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LETTER OF THE DAY - Hold leaders accountable

Published:Tuesday | January 5, 2010 | 12:00 AM


Generally speaking, economic growth in most of sub-Saharan Africa has been relatively slow for decades. Below is a list of the average annual growth rates of the six most populated sub-Saharan countries. I have also included Jamaica for the purpose of comparison.

Average annual growth rate of real GDP per capita (1962-2007):

Dem Rep of the Congo - 2.63 per cent

Kenya - 0.40 per cent

Jamaica - 0.74 per cent

Ethiopia - 0.97 per cent

South Africa - 1.36 per cent

Nigeria - 1.57 per cent

Tanzania - 1.64 per cent

Botswana - 5.47 per cent

(Source: Alan Heston, Robert Summers and Bettina Aten, Penn World Table Version 6.3, Center for International Comparisons of Production, Income and Prices at the University of Pennsylvania, August 2009)

Standing out

However, the growth rate of one country stands out from the rest. Botswana's average annual growth rate is over three times greater than that of Tanzania, which is the second-fastest-growing country in the group. What is the reason for Botswana having such a rapid rate of growth?

Economist Shantayanan Devarajan of the World Bank, William Easterly of New York University and Howard Pack of the University of Pennsylvania have collectively attributed the growth rate to the following summarised policies.

Favourable location

"The relative political stability and the relatively low corruption made Botswana a favourable location for investment. Botswana's relatively high level of press freedom and democracy (continuing a pre-colonial tradition that held chiefs responsible to tribal members) held the government responsible for any economic policy mistakes." (Source: Shantayanan Devarajan, William Easterly and Howard Pack, Low Investment is Not the Constraint on African Development, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol 51, No 3 (April 2003), pp 547-571)

In order for Jamaica to efficiently manage its limited resources and encourage investment, we must also hold our chiefs accountable. For this reason, it is imperative that independent enquiries and investigations be carried out. In the instances where persons are found to have engaged in corrupt acts, the punishment must be swift, impartial and exemplary.

I am, etc.,



Kingston 6