Patterns of Manufacturing Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Colonization to the Present

G. Austin, E.H.P. Frankema, M. Jerven

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter reviews the ‘long twentieth-century’ development of ‘modern’ manufacturing in Sub-Saharan Africa from colonization to the present. It argues that classifying Africa generically as a ‘late industrializer’ is inaccurate. To understand the distinctively African pattern of manufacturing growth, the discussion focuses on the dynamic interplay between the region’s specific endowment structures, global economic relationships, and government policies. It concludes that Sub-Saharan Africa is best characterized as a case of interrupted industrial growth instead of sustained convergence on world industrial leaders. This is partly because, until very recently, factor endowments made it very costly for states to pursue industrialization; and partly because successive rulers, colonial and post-colonial, have rarely had both the capacity to adopt and the dedication to sustain policies that modified the region’s existing comparative advantage in primary production, by using their fiscal and regulatory powers effectively to promote industrialization.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Spread of Modern Industry to the Periphery since 1871
EditorsKevin Hjortshoj O'Rourke, Jeffrey Gale Williamson
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198753643
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


  • Africa
  • manufacturing
  • factor endowments
  • economic policy
  • primary production
  • economic history


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