Others lament the de-industrialisation of
Finally, some warn that youth unemployment could lead to an 'Arab Spring' in sub-Saharan Africa. Taken together, one could conclude that recent success will be short lived. But these observations fail to account for a quiet revolution taking place in
This phenomenon includes a substantial decline in the share of the labour force engaged in agriculture, an unprecedented increase in the numbers of rural children in secondary education, significant improvements in governance and improvements in agricultural productivity. For now, the revolution remains quiet, because the synergies between these various developments are only just starting to be realised.
A decline in the agricultural labour force may seem like an odd harbinger of a green revolution, but it is an important trend. Agriculture in
Even more striking are the changes taking place among
It is no accident that these structural changes have coincided with an overall increase in the quality of governance in
As education and living standards in rural areas improves, however, it will become increasingly difficult for incumbents to buy these votes.
This is of critical importance because, paradoxically, the hope for the 'modernisation' of
Consider some of the recent investments in labour intensive manufacturing. Chinese, Indian and European investment is pouring into
The US and
A recent survey of foreign investors in leather processing and manufacturing found that the single most important reason for investment in
The lesson is clear: additional investments in the livestock sector have the potential to create more formal jobs in the leather industry, while at the same time providing opportunities for poor, rural populations. Such investments could happen relatively quickly, leading to much needed structural economic change on the continent.
African governments have come together to form a compact - the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) - which commits them to spending more of their budgets on agriculture. And, crucially, African governments are investing more into rural infrastructure.
But there is a lot more that could be done to transform the agricultural sector more quickly. With luck and more pressure from an increasingly educated population, policies that promote faster productivity growth in agriculture could be the key to the modernisation of
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