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Edited by Geoffrey Wood and Mehmet Demirbag
Chapter 23: Firms, Markets and the Social Regulation of Capitalism in Sub-Saharan Africa
Gilton Klerck 23.1 INTRODUCTION This chapter explores the relevance of regulation theory to an understanding of the operation of firms and markets in sub-Saharan Africa. The challenges confronting the region are numerous, complex and daunting. A majority of the people in sub-Saharan Africa face a future in which ‘not even bare survival is assured’ (Leys 1994, 34). Out of a total population of about 800 million, nearly 400 million are living in abject poverty. Per capita incomes have been falling at over 2 per cent a year since 1980, world demand for what sub-Saharan Africa produces is growing slowly or even declining, while world supplies are constantly expanding and are produced much more efficiently elsewhere (Rankin et al. 2006). The decline in world trade in the early 1980s created systemic instability at the level of the global economy and a much less favourable international climate for the industrialization of developing countries. Attracting and retaining foreign investment became increasingly difficult at exactly the time when it was punted as a central pillar of economic growth. In general, there is little prospect of industrial development solving the problems in most African countries. For a start, social and political conditions in much of Africa have reached a point where manufacturing investment no longer appears profitable. Many African countries have seen significant disinvestment by foreign companies since the 1990s. The level and share of manufacturing in the region remains extremely low compared with other parts of the developing world. There has also been minimal...
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