Growth Lab


Africa is poised for economic growth. According to a McKinsey Report, the number of African households with discretionary income will increase to 128 million by 2020, making Africa one of the fastest-growing consumer markets of this decade. 60% of the world’s uncultivated arable land is in Africa and with growing demand for food, all roads seem to point to Africa as the bread-basket of the world.

Even though Africa presents a story of great promise and potential, the challenge of growth and development is still as relevant and as urgent as it was four decades ago. Sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP per capita today stands at a miserly $700 compared to $28,000 in advanced economies. In other words, the average American is 40 times richer than the average African. This economic underperformance has real consequences on the lives of many on the continent. Half of Sub-Saharan Africa survives on less than $1 a day, 33% of the population suffers from malnutrition, and the average life expectancy is 54 years. Several African countries are still encumbered by conflicts, ailing institutions and stagnant or erratic growth.

The Africa Growth Lab seeks to identify the most important constraints on African growth and to recommend interventions that can relax these constraints. We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of Standard Bank whose gift has been instrumental in seeding the next phase of growth research to accelerate the pace of discovery – and application – of emerging theories of growth for African economies.

We achieve our goals through the following activities:


"In 2030 Africa will be an economic power like China and India. If you think this is far-fetched, think of India 20 years ago or China just after the Cultural Revolution. Our task is about that outcome."

- President Donald Kaberuka, African Development Bank, 2008 Keynote Address at Harvard Kennedy School