Africa’s economic history since independence is characterised by wide fluctuations, as can be seen in Figure 1. The continent has experienced two periods of growth: one between 1961 and 1975 and a second from 1995 to the present, with stagnation in between. Given the protracted economic stagnation, and the continent’s low economic output in comparison with other regions of the world, Africa seemed doomed to persistent under-development. Hypotheses as to the cause often clustered around three factors – geographical conditions, the slave trade legacy, and colonisation. The assumption is that one of these initial factors led African countries on an institutional path that was not propitious to development.
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