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How To Leapfrog Economic Renaissance In Africa

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Images coverIMAGES: Prologue to Africa’s Development and Economic Renaissance is an analysis of the prospects for development and economic resurgence in Africa.

The book, written by Adedoyin Soyibo, a professor of Economics at the University of Ibadan was a product of Soyibo’s sojourn in Duke University, Durham, USA while he was a visiting professor in African American Studies between 2010 and February 2011. Published by the University Press Ibadan in 2014, the book appears to have come at a time transition from authoritarian to democratic values in Nigeria in particular and Africa in general is taking root. The volume is all the more appropriate now that Africa is ready to leapfrog into sustained growth and inclusive development.

The belief that the image of self-interest colours development policy permeates this work. The text is an incisive and lucid analysis of African development in the new millennium.

Encapsulated in the book are the history and economics of post-colonial Africa within the framework of the pursuit of enlightened self-interest in a plural democracy. In Images…, Soyibo displayed such a logical and mathematical precision befitting his discipline as an analytical economist. He also used the experience-based approach of case studies to recommend suitable strategies for overcoming Africa’s current development problems.

It is delightful that the author spared readers academic jargons by his simple literary style and language in the delivery of the work. Thus, he made the book and knowledge available to a broad spectrum of readers beyond professional academics, thereby enabling us to understand the world we now live in.

The segmentation is also enticing. Its acknowledgments, foreword, preface and lists of boxes, figures and abbreviations are chapters in themselves since they made interesting reading. Moreover, the introduction is an informed and enlarged review of the entire work. This text of six chapters can be categorised into four segments: the Image driving economic policy and development; paradigms of economic thought and conflicts in development strategy; goal of development and the concept of quality of life; as well as images of development in Africa and its future.

Indeed, the highpoint of the book is the sophistication by which development challenges in Africa is analysed. Soyibo examined the literature of development policy and Africa’s political history. He recommended suitable strategies for overcoming development drawbacks in our continent. Though not formally expressed, Soyibo agreed with Walter Rodney’s How Europe underdeveloped Africa.

The book reminds us that pre-colonial Africa was not perfect but worse still, post colonial African leaders did little to ameliorate conditions.

Indeed, a corollary to Images, is Paul Collier’s The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are failing And What can be Done About It. The difference between Collier and Soyibo is that the latter takes us through African history showing that the rain started beating us long before now and that the clouds have not stopped forming everywhere. Soyibo’s conclusion is that what Africa needs is not aid but trade and empowerment.


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