I have just returned from a conference in Italy that looked at lessons from Asia that might be applicable to Africa’s economic turnaround. Given the vastly different trajectories experienced by countries like Malaysia and Singapore to that of most African nations in recent decades, it would be short-sighted of us not to borrow from their playbook.

I know the ANC loves to cite the growth of our GDP since 1994 — just under double in real terms — as proof that they’re doing something right. But this is a poor marker, first because the apartheid government should not be our benchmark, but more importantly because our growth pales in comparison to our peers, particularly the Asian nations. The truth is we are in decline, while they have streaked ahead. We need to understand why if we want to change our trajectory.

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