There’s good news coming out of Africa as we’ve noted many a time here before. Mired as the continent was in the pit of madcap and counter-productive policies the various economies are now, finally, growing again:

AFRICA has made a phenomenal leap in the last decade. Its economy is growing faster than that of any other continent. Foreign investment is at an all-time high; Senegal has lower borrowing costs than Ireland……Africa’s mood is more optimistic than at any time since the independence era of the 1960s. This appears to be a real turning point for the continent………Africans are taking a greater interest in each other. Regional economic cooperation has improved markedly—borders are easier to cross now, especially in the east…….Bad governance is still holding back many countries, but markets are becoming more open thanks to privatisation. Examples of the old Africa (destitute, violent and isolated) are becoming more rare.

Now, to pin all of this on just one thing would be a tad brash. It’s not just commodity prices, not just new technology and it’s not just what I’m about to suggest has been important. However, I would suggest that the Washington Consensus has been important in laying the ground work for what is happening in Africa. An appallingly large number of the development NGOs, right on opinion makers and the like hate said Consensus with a passion. But all it really is is a list of stupid things that you shouldn’t do for these stupid things will wreck your economy.

Since the late 80s/early 90s this list of stupid things you shouldn’t do has been urged upon African governments as a checklist, see, don’t do these stupid things. I really don’t think that it’s a coincidence that a few years after said governments stop doing stupid things that the economy improves.

Please note that I don’t claim at all that everything is just peachy, only that it’s getting better. Nor do I claim that the Washington Consensus is solely responsible for things getting better. Only that not doing stupid things that will wreck your economy is rather likely to leave room for the economy to improve. Which is what, I think, enrages some of those NGOs and right on opinion formers. For the list of stupid things not to do reads suspiciously like their list of things that should be done. And even where it doesn’t, how appalling that an economy might grow without important white people planning it, it just happening as Adam Smith said it would, peace, easy taxes and a tolerable administration of justice being all that is required.

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