Will Sub-Saharan Africa Meet the Millennium Development Goals and Does it Matter?
In 2000 the largest gathering of world leaders in history met at the United Nations to endorse the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and these goals have received wide-spread attention since then. This paper examines these goals and also considers the larger issue of economic growth and development. For sub-Saharan Africa’s economies to grow, we need to recognize the role and functions of the informal ruling sector and also acknowledge the incentives involved. Equally important perhaps, we need to rethink the development agenda: today that agenda is dictated by and large by the Western donors. In the future that agenda must be driven by the realities of the combination of the mix of informal and formal governing structures. If rulers continue to commit to meeting the objectives at the formal level while at the same time prioritize the demands of the informal sector then they will not be able to escape the poverty trap and underdevelopment nor move toward true, sustained economic and social development for all of their people. At the end of the day, what really matters is not if Africa reaches the Millennium Development Goals, since goals, while important in measuring welfare success, do not really address the more urgent need for stimulating productive and sustained economic growth that in the long term will translate into higher welfare.
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