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The global financial and economic crises exposed one of the major weaknesses of a number of African economies: their dependence on too few export commodities and one or two sectors. Such dependence makes many countries vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices, demand and extreme weather events such as droughts and floods. This study looks at how African governments can diversify their economies and analyses five countries' economic diversification profiles in particular. It begins by examining some of the major determinants of diversification and also looks at how the private sector plays a key role by being at the forefront of innovation, research and development and production. Good governance is needed to create an enabling environment for investment and trade; to manage natural resources; and to set policies to develop strategic sectors. A regional approach to economic diversification is particularly important, especially given the small size of African economies and the benefits of economies of scale from regional initiatives. New economic partnerships, including South‐South co‐operation and relations, offer Africa the opportunity to expand its economic options. Lastly, infrastructure and human resources help to facilitate trade, productivity and innovation and are key drivers of diversification.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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