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Agriculture and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

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Title:
Agriculture and economic development in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia
Series Title:
Working paper ; no. 106
Creator:
Karshenas, Massoud ( Author, Primary )
SOAS University of London. Department of Economics
University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies. Department of Economics
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London
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SOAS University of London
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English
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Subjects / Keywords:
Agriculture -- Economic aspects -- Africa, Sub-Saharan ( LCSH )
Agriculture -- Economic aspects ( LCSH )
Africa, Sub-Saharan -- Economic conditions ( lcsh )
Asia -- Economic conditions ( lcsh )
Temporal Coverage:
- 2000
Spatial Coverage:
Africa -- Sub-Saharan Africa
Asia

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VIAF (name authority) : Karshenas, Massoud : URI https://viaf.org/viaf/2571838
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Working paper (University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies. Department of Economics) ; no. 106

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Department of Economics

Working Paper Series

AGRICULTURE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AND ASIA’

by

Massoud Karshenas

WORKING PAPER SERIES NO. 106

SOAS

School of Oriental and African Studies

University of London




Department of Economics
School of Oriental and African Studies
University of London

This working paper series is intended to disseminate research in progress by staff members and
associates of the Department of Economics at SOAS. If you would like to receive copies of future
papers in the series, or obtain extra copies of a particular Working Paper please write, giving full
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Russell Square

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Previous Papers in the Series (most recent titles):

65. 'Social Time Preference'

Giancarlo Marini and Pasquale Scaramozzino, February 1997

66. 'A Note on Market Liberalisation and Agricultural Performance in Central
America'

John Weeks, April 1997

67. 'Re-appraising China’s State-owned Industrial Enterprises'

Die Lo, April 1997

68. 'Rural Poverty & Poverty Alleviation in Mozambique: What’s Missing from the
Debate? ' Christopher Cramer and Nicola Pontara, May 1997

69. 'On the Theory of Decentralisation: A Critique of Mainstream Economics and Towards
an Alternative Political-Economy Approach'

Rathin Roy, July 1997

70. ‘Latin America and the ‘High Performing Asian Economies’: How great were the
differences and how do we account for them?’, Weeks, July 1997

71. ‘Market Liberalistion and Agricultural Performance in Central America’

John Weeks, August 1997

72. ‘Initial Conditions and Miraculous Growth: Why is South-East Asia Different from
Taiwan and South Korea?, Anne Booth, October 1997

73. “‘Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing”: exploring growth, distribution and conflict linkages’

Christopher Cramer, October 1997

74. ‘Intergenerational Transfers and Growth’

Giancarlo Marini and Pasquale Scaramozzino

75. ‘Social Exclusion and Japanese Capitalism: the case of white-collar workers’

Costas Lapavistas. October 1997

76. ‘State and Finance in Economic Development: Some Analytical Issues Relevant to the
East Asian ‘Miracle’

('oslas Lupavitsus. October 1997

77. ‘Central Bank Independence: a critical perspective

Costas Lapaviisas. October 1997

78. ‘Labour Markets and the Diversity of Adjustment, Masood Karshenas


79. ‘Economic Liberalisation, Competitiveness and Women’s Employment in the Middle
East and North Africa’

Masood Karshenas

80. Endogenous Growth Theory: A Critical Assessment

Ben Fine, February 1998

81. Noisy Implementation Cycles and the Informational Role of Policy

Pasquale Scaramozzino and Nir Vulkan, February 1998

82. From East to West Asia: Lessons of Globalisation, Crisis and Economic Reform

Hassan Hakimian & Ann Arbor, August 1998

83. North’s institutionalism as a bridge between neo-classical and alternative schools.

Paul Vandenberg, August 1998

84. ’Risk, Ethnicity and Property Rights: Towards a Political Economy of Africa’s
Institutions’

Paul Vandenberg, March 1999

85. ’Stuck in Low Gear? Macroeconomic Policy in South Africa, 1995-1998’

John Weeks, March 1999

86. 'Dilemmas and Prospects for Economic Reform and Reconstruction in Iran'

Hassan Hakimian and Massoud Karshenas, March 1999

87. ’North's Institutionsalism and the Problem of Combining Theoretical Approaches'

Paul Vandenberg, March 1999

88. Structural Obstacles to Economic Adjustment in the MENA Region:

The International Trade Aspects

Massoud Karshenas, April 1999

89. Purchasing Power Parities and the International Comparison of Real Agricultural
Output and Productivity

Massoud Karshenas, June 1999

90. ‘Should the Informal Sector be considered in LDC Economic Policy?’

Claude Sumata, February 2000

91. 'Consumption for Historians: An Economist's Gaze'

Professor Ben Fine, February 2000

92. 'Whither the Welfare State: Public versus Private Consumption?'

Professor Ben Fine, February 2000

93. 'New and Improved: Economics' Contribution to Business History’

Professor Ben Fine, February 2000

94. African Stock Markets: Multiple Variance Ratio Tests of Random Walks

Graham Smith, Keith Jefferis, Hyun-Jung Ryoo, February 2000

95. The Impact of Stock Index Futures on the Korean Stock Market

Hyun-Jung Ryoo, Graham Smith, February 2000

96. Variance Ratio Tests of the Random Walk Hypothesis for European Emerging Stock
Markets

Graham Smith and Hyun-Jung Ryoo, February 2000

97. Korean Stock Prices under Price Limits: Variance Ratio Tests of Random Walks

Hyun-Jung Ryoo, Graham Smith, February 2000

98. The Political Economy of Industrial Policy in Pakistan 1947-1971

Mushtaq H Khan, February 2000

99. 'Redistribution Matters: Growth for Poverty Reduction'

Hulya Dagdeviran, Rolph van der Hoeven, John Weeks, October 2000

100. Growth and the Poor: A Comment on Dollar and Kraay

Malte Lubker, Graham Smith, John Weeks, October 2000


101. Output per Acre and Size of Holding: A critique of Berry and Cline on the inverse
relationship. Graham Dyer, November 2000

102. New Trade Theory Versus Old Trade Policy: A Continuing Enigma

Sonali Deraniyagala and Ben Fine, November 2000

103. The Impact of Technology Accumulation on Technical Efficiency: an Analysis of the
Sri Lankan Clothing and Agricultural Machinery Industries

Sonali Deraniyagala, November 2000

104. Adaptive Technology Strategies and Technical Efficiency: Evidence from the Sri Lankan
Agricultural Machinery Industry

Sonali Deraniyagala, November 2000

105. Inequality, Development and Economic Correctness

Christopher Cramer, November 2000

106. Agriculture and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

Massoud Karshenas, November 2000


Agriculture and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

By

Massoud Karshenas
Department of Economics
SOAS, University of London
Russell Square
Thomhaugh Streed
London WC1H OXG

September 2000

Abstract:

This paper is a comparative study of the role of agriculture in economic
development in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Popular notions of economic duality
and agricultural squeeze in sub-Saharan Africa are re-examined, and new
explanations in terms of agrarian structures and resource availabilities are put
forward to account for the apparent economic duality in that continent.
Comparison with surplus labour economies of Asia highlights the constraints posed
by the prevailing agrarian structures for capital accumulation and industrialization
in post colonial sub-Saharan Africa. Policy conclusions from this new perspective
are contrasted to the conventional policies focussing on price reform and market
liberalization.

JEL Classification: O, P, 0. \


1. Introduction

The literature on the role of agriculture in economic development in post-colonial sub-
Saharan Africa has been dominated by two central themes. The first theme is the extreme
economic duality between a ‘modem’ urban sector and a marginalized agricultural sector
employing the main part of the labour force and being the main source of sustenance for

: the larger part of the population. The second theme is the high rates of agricultural
• taxation, resulting by and large from price distortions introduced by ‘urban biased’
government interventions, which is said to have perpetuated the economic duality in the
post-colonial period. The heavy drainage of agricultural surplus, mainly taking the form of
forced indirect taxation, is argued to have led to the poor performance of the agricultural
sector and declining overall economic conditions (see, Lipton 1991, Cleaver 1985, Bates

1984, and World Bank 1994). These two themes, which we may refer to as the urban bias
or the agricultural squeeze hypothesis, have also played a key role in the policy debate on
sub-Saharan Africa and have set the main thrust of adjustment policies introduced in the
region since the early 1980s (see, e.g., World Bank 1994).

In this paper we re-examine the agricultural squeeze hypothesis by a comparative study of
the role of agriculture in capital accumulation and economic development in sub-Saharan
Africa and Asia. In the next section we examine the nature of the duality between
agriculture and the non-agricultural sectors in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, by a
decomposition of value added per head in the two sectors into its real and price
components. We argue that the observed trends in the post-colonial period in sub-Saharan
Africa do not appear to lend support to the agricultural squeeze hypothesis. Instead, we try
to explain the apparent duality in sub-Saharan African economies in terms of the
fundamental agrarian structures in that region as compared to Asia. The differences in
agrarian structures between the two regions, emanating from the much lower population
densities in sub-Saharan African agriculture, play an important part in explaining the cross-
country differences in sectoral per capita income shares. In Section 3 we examine the
constraints posed by the prevailing agrarian structures for capital accumulation in sub-
Saharan African type economies in contrast to surplus labour economies in Asia. Section 4
discusses the problems of financing of accumulation in labour constrained agrarian
economies and the role of foreign aid in sub-Saharan Africa. In Section 5 we discusses
some of the policy conclusions of the paper.

2. Initial Conditions and the Agricultural Squeeze hypothesis

There are significant differences among sub-Saharan African economies in terms of size,
resource endowments, systems of economic management, nature of economic

1


specialization and the degree of economic diversification. The agricultural systems of
production within each country also have specificities of their own. Generalizations about
‘sub-Saharan African agriculture’ and general policy prescriptions derived therefrom are
therefore likely to be misleading. However, the specificities of individual cases are
sometimes better understood when viewed in a more general and comparative context.
Specially, if there are any lessons for sub-Saharan Africa to be learnt from the historical
experience of Asian countries, it is important to start with such a panoramic view of the
characteristics of the economies in the two regions. We shall therefore start by addressing
the question of whether the post-colonial sub-Saharan African economies, despite their
differences, have any common characteristics which could distinguish them from the Asian
economies. We particularly focus on the role of agriculture and the nature of economic
duality in the two regions.

Some of the similarities and differences in the initial conditions in the two regions are
highlighted in Table 1, which compares certain structural features of the post-colonial sub-
Saharan African economies with Asia.1 As the table shows, in 1965 on average well over
80 per cent of the population in sub-Saharan Africa were rural and a similar proportion of
the labour force worked in agriculture. Though in terms of rural concentration of
population there does not seem to be a significant difference between the post-colonial
sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, employment shares indicate a higher degree of
diversification of Asian economies. In terms of primary commodity export orientation also
there does not seem to be a significant difference between the two regions, though the sub-
Saharan African economies on average seem to have been more dependent on agricultural
exports than Asian countries. These are of course average patterns, which hide important
individual country exceptions within both the regions. Throughout this paper we shall
concentrate on this type of average regional data that show overall regional tendencies, but
will point out individual country exceptions which have a significant bearing on the
argument being made.2

What really stands out in Table 1, as a glaring difference between the two regions, is the
apparent economic duality between agriculture and non-agriculture, as reflected in the
value added shares in agriculture in the two regions relative to the share of agricultural
labour force. This is shown in column 4 of the table under the heading of ‘ V-Ratio’, which
measures the value added per agricultural worker as a percentage of value added per
worker in the non-agricultural sector at current prices. The median for this ratio in sub-

1 The averages shown in the Table 1 refer to twenty eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa and ten Asian countries as
listed in the footnote to the table. The twenty eight countries have been chosen so that they contain the various economy
types distinguished amongst post colonial sub-Saharan countries in the literature (see, e.g., Szentes, 1969, 1978 for one
such typology). The ten Asian countries contain most of the population in developing countries in Asia.

For data and more detailed discussion at the individual country level see, Karshenas (1998).

2


Saharan Africa is below 10 per cent, while in Asia it is over 28 per cent. In sub-Saharan
Africa only South Africa, Nigeria, and Ghana, had relative value added shares close to
Asia (over 20 per cent) in the mid-1960s. The trends in V-ratio shown in Table 2 also
indicate the average for sub-Saharan Africa remains well below Asia for the entire period,
though there is a steady increase in this variable in the case of Africa, particularly
noticeable since the early 1980s.

What are the reasons for the low V-ratios in sub-Saharan African economies relative to
Asia? This question was first raised by Lipton (1977) in the context of developing
countries in general, while he also pointed out the extremely low ratios for African
countries relative to other developing countries. In a more recent paper Lipton has
reiterated the point in the specific context of Africa (Lipton, 1987). In the absence of any
other explanations Michael Lipton puts this down to the effect of over-taxation of
agriculture and the ‘urban bias’ of government policies in these economies.3 The low V-
ratios may also appear in conformity with the more popular notions of economic duality in
sub-Saharan Africa and the ‘plundering of agriculture’ a la Schiff and Valdes (1992). It is
however difficult to believe that during the 1960s, some of the sparsely populated countries
in sub-Saharan Africa, with rich mineral exports (e.g., Zaire or Zambia), taxed their
agriculture more than some of the densely populated, resource poor, countries in Asia (e.g.,
Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka). Furthermore, the behaviour of V-ratio in sub-Saharan
Africa during the post-colonial period does not also seem to be in conformity with the
urban bias or the agricultural squeeze hypothesis. To see this, it would be helpful to write
the relative productivity ratio, or the V-ratio, as:

V - ratio -

VJL P„ QjL L
VJL P..QJL, P„

en

where Vj, Lj, Qj, and Pj respectively refer to value added, employment, real value added
and prices in the relevant sectors (agriculture and non-agriculture), and ej refers to real
labour productivity. Denoting the rates of change by a dot above the variables, we can
decompose the rate of change in the V-ratio as:

V - Ratio = +J1

Alter a search lor ditlerent possible explanations, Lipton (1977. p. 1&3) concluded, ‘Neither historical compulsions,
then, nor the speetlk features o| groups oi I DCs. can account tor todax s huge and on balance growing disparities [in V-
i.iliosj lie then goe. on to ,i« ert that I ihan biases in prixate and public power, and hence in pricing and resource
allocation, are needed to explain high disparities

3


where T is the agricultural terms of trade or the Pa/Pn ratio. The change in the V-ratio is
therefore equal to the change in agricultural labour productivity, minus labour productivity
growth in the non-agricultural sector, plus the improvement in agricultural terms of trade.

The average estimates of these variables for sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for 1965-80 and
1980-95 are shown in Table 3. A number of important contrasting tendencies in Africa
and Asia stand out. Firstly, during the 1965-80 period, which is believed to the period in
which African agriculture was being increasingly taxed through the terms of trade effect,
the V-ratios in most sub-Saharan African economies showed positive trends. In fact, a
declining V-ratio in this period was more a common trait of Asian countries than the sub-
Saharan African ones. Furthermore, in a few countries in sub-Saharan Africa where the V-
ratios showed significant declines during the 1965-80 period (namely, Burkina Faso,
Congo, Lesotho, Mali, Niger and Nigeria), only in one country, namely Niger, there was a
significant deterioration in agricultural terms of trade as hypothesized by the agricultural
squeeze hypothesis (see, Karshenas, 1998).

Another result shown in Table 3, with regard to the 1980-95 period, is that a significant
part of the increase in the V-ratio for most sub-Saharan African economies during this
latter period seems to be explained by the collapse of labour productivity in the non-
agricultural sector. The median for the non-agricultural productivity growth for the sample
countries in sub-Saharan Africa was -2.2, in contrast to a 2.5 per cent growth for Asia. Of
the 28 sub-Saharan countries in the sample only 5 achieved positive non-agricultural
productivity growth rates during the 1980-95 period, and only four of them showed non-
agricultural productivity growth rates which were higher than productivity growth in
agriculture. This meant that despite the negative terms of trade effect for agriculture in at
least half of the sample countries in Africa, most countries achieved increasing V-ratios
during the 1980-95 period (Table 3). It would be difficult to reconcile these observations
with the popular notions of agricultural squeeze hypothesis in post-colonial sub-Saharan
Africa. In this paper we argue that the relatively low V-ratios in Africa are predominantly
explained by the structural characteristics of the agrarian economies in sub-Saharan Africa
in contrast to Asia. In order to investigate such structural explanations of the V-ratio gap
between Africa and Asia, we need a more detailed investigation of the initial conditions of
the agrarian economies of the two regions.

Agrarian Relations and Regional Wage Differentials

Some of the basic differences between the Asian and the sub-Saharan African agricultural
systems arise from the much higher population pressure on land in Asia as compared to
Africa. This is reflected in the data in the first two columns of Table 4, which show
labour/land ratios in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for 1965 and 1994. As can be seen, the

4


number of labourers per hectare of agricultural land was on average five times higher in
Asia than in sub-Saharan Africa in 1965. The agricultural population in Africa are not of
course uniformly spread across wide tracts of agricultural land. As can be seen in the third
column of the table, on average only about 24 per cent of the agricultural land in the
sample countries in sub-Saharan Africa in the mid-1960s is cultivated land. The rest is
composed of pastures which is partly used for herding and hunting gathering, and partly
unutilized. This does not mean that all or even most of the remaining pastures are readily
cultivable, or suitable for cultivation at all.4 The figures nevertheless help to delineate the
difference in the predominant systems of farming in the two regions; namely, extensive
farming in post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa, where smallholder agriculture was based on
shifting cultivation and where the main constraint to output expansion was labour and
labour augmenting technological possibilities, and intensive farming in Asia where land,
and land augmenting technological possibilities, formed the main constraints to growth.
This is further reflected in the patterns of investment and input use in the agricultural
sectors in the two continents.

In Asia, where most countries had already reached the limits of agricultural land frontiers
in the 1960s, and with enormous population pressure on land, agricultural growth has been
based on land augmenting but labour intensive seed/fertilizer technology of the green
revolution and multiple cropping methods. This is reflected in high rates of fertilizer use
and irrigation in Asia in contrast to sub-Saharan Africa, as shown in Table 5. As can be
seen, in 1965 the median irrigation rate in Asia was fifty times higher, and fertilizer use
was more than ten times higher than in sub-Saharan Africa. Tractor use, which is a
relatively more labour saving than land augmenting device, was on the other hand more or
less at par between the two regions in 1965. These input-use ratios, of course, should not
be viewed as fixed technological coefficients appropriate to given systems of farming.
There is for example no reason why extensive farming cannot benefit from higher fertilizer
use, or irrigation, which can increase productivity of both land and labour. The example of
extensive farming in the highly capitalized South African agriculture with much higher
fertilizer use than African average is a case in point (Table 5). The low input use ratios for
sub-Saharan Africa are therefore also indications of low investment and
undercapitalization of agriculture in the region. This is highlighted by the rapidly
widening gap in input use (whether of the seed/fertilizer type or tractors and machinery)
between Asia and Africa during the 1965-94 period (Table 5), which also explains the
significant differences in agricultural labour productivity growth rates between the two
regions observed in the previous section. Of course, investment growth in agriculture itself

For a detailed discussion of the various degrees of suitability of agricultural land for cultivation in different sub-Saharan
African countries see, FAO, 1986.

5


depends, amongst other things, on the availability of new productive technologies that can
help maintain the profitability of investment in the sector.

The above picture is in conformity with the basic stylized facts about the technological
level of sub-Saharan African agriculture discussed in the literature, namely that with a few
exceptions it predominantly consists of small farmers using simple technologies and with
little use of modem inputs. It would be, however, wrong to conclude on this basis that the
level of labour productivity in sub-Saharan African agriculture in the early years of the
post-colonial period was much lower than in Asia. It would be certainly plausible to
assume that land productivity in extensive agriculture of sub-Saharan African type would
be lower than intensive farming in Asia, but the same does not hold for labour productivity
because lower yields can be compensated by higher land/labour ratios. This was indeed
the case, as can be seen from Table 6 which shows land and labour productivity in the the
two regions in comparable (wheat equivalent) units. As shown in the table, in 1965
average land productivity in Asia was eight times higher than the average for sub-Saharan
Africa, but labour productivity levels in the two regions were not significantly different. In
fact labour productivity levels in most African countries in 1965 were higher than the least
developed countries in Asia such as Bangladesh, China, India, and Indonesia (Karshenas,
1998). Of course in the subsequent period, with the much higher rates of productivity
growth in Asia, the labour productivity gap between the two regions widens rapidly (Table
6). Thus any explanation of the lower V-ratios in Africa in the 1960s has to start from the
premises that the average productivity of labour in agriculture in the two regions in the
immediate post-colonial period were similar. We therefore need to further investigate the
initial conditions in the agrarian structures of the two regions that may help to explain the
differences in V-ratios.

Some of the fundamental differences between the Asian and sub-Saharan African
agricultural systems pertain to the prevailing relations of production, namely, the patterns
of ownership and control of land and other productive assets, and organization of labour, in
the two regions. Asian agriculture, given its high population density, by and large consists
of highly differentiated peasant ownership structures, with a large part of the agricultural
labour force taking the form of landless labourers or poor peasant farmers with the major
part of their livelihood taking the form of wage income. Rural wages in these economies
are well below the average product of labour. It was in fact in relation to these economies
that the dual economy models, or the surplus labour economy models, of the 1950s and the
1960s were formulated (e.g., Lewis, 1954, Fei and Ranis, 1964). The post-colonial land
abundant sub-Saharan economies on the other hand have more limited development of
wage labour in agricultural production. Possession of agricultural land by individual
farmers has been predominantly through some kind of communal arrangement or
traditional customary rights, with family labour being the predominant form of agricultural ,
labour. The low level of development of wage labour has been due to the ease of access to >

6


the main productive asset in agriculture, namely land. This of course should not be
regarded as simply a result of prevailing factor proportions or land/labour ratios, but
essentially as the reflection of the existing agrarian relations. The case of South Africa is a
good example of this point. Despite low levels of labour/land ratios, South Africa, through
forced eviction of its indigenous agricultural population and colonization of new lands
managed to establish a highly mechanized and commecialized farming sector with a
predominant use of wage labour and extremely high levels of labour productivity (Table
6). This also generated a surplus labour, mainly residing in labour camps and labour
reserve towns, which solved the labour shortage problem of the non-agricultural sector.
The transformation of production conditions in agriculture in South Africa was not simply
a matter of availability of capital to be substituted for labour either. It was first and
foremost a forced transformation of agrarian relations and generation of a surplus labour.

The lack of development of a landless wage labouring class can be of fundamental
importance in explaining the behaviour of V-ratios.5 In Asia, the non-agricultural sectors
have had access to an abundant supply of wage labour at wage rates that are a fraction of
the average product of labour in agriculture, and with relatively elastic supply. In sub-
Saharan Africa on the other hand, the opportunity cost of labour or the reservation wage
for the non-agricultural sector is close to the average product of labour in agriculture. This
is because under the institutional arrangements of sub-Saharan African agriculture the
individual farmer appropriates the total product and the rental market for agricultural land
is undeveloped. This can imply a substantial differential in the two regions in non-
agricultural wages relative to average productivity in agriculture.

Before proceeding to investigate the implications of this for the relative V-ratios in the two
regions, it would be helpful to form some approximate idea about the orders of magnitude
involved. According to estimates by Mellor and Ranade quoted in Delgado and Ranade
(1987), the share of labour in agriculture in Maharashtra (India) was 15 per cent. Of
course there are variations in factor shares across different regions in India, as there are
across different countries in Asia.6 But even if we assume a labour share as high as 50 per
cent on average in Asian agriculture, and also considering that average labour
productivities in the agricultural sectors in the two regions in 1965 were more or less equal,
the above argument implies a non-agricultural reservation wage rate in sub-Saharan Africa
which is at least 100 per cent higher than Asia. With a less conservative, but perhaps more

5 The above characterization of predominant agrarian relations in sub-Saharan Africa is based on Binswanger and
McIntire, 1987, and Hayami and Platteau 1997. This is of course an oversimplified stylized picture which does not apply
to all parts of Sub-Sahara or even to all parts of any individual country in the region. The picture has been also changing
very rapidly with fast rates of population growth. However, as a stylized characterization of sub-Saharan smallholder
agriculture in the immediate post-colonial period, and in contrast to Asian agriculture, this is a permissible generalization.

6 Maharashtra in fact has one of the lowest population land ratios amongst Indian states. India’s labour/land ratio is close
to the median in Asia.

7


realistic, assumption of wage rates in Asian surplus labour agriculture being 30 per cent of
the average product of labour, and in Africa 90 per cent, the reservation wages for African
non-agricultural sector would be 3 times higher than Asia in 1965. These are of course
very inexact estimates, but they nevertheless provide an idea of the plausible ranges of the
orders of magnitude involved. It would be instructive to compare these with some of the
available evidence on wage differentials between Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Table 7 shows average wages in manufacturing sector in our sample countries in Asia and
Africa. Wage rates are calculated as total compensation of labour divided by the number
of workers. The first broad column in the table shows wage rates in US dollars converted
at official exchange rates. As can be seen, during the latter half of the 1960s, wages in
sub-Saharan countries for which data are available, were on average more than 90 per cent
higher than in Asia. Despite the considerable variations within regions, the average for
Africa is significantly more than Asia. During the 1970s the wage gap between the two
regions widens considerably before it narrows down sharply in the 1980s. These figures,
evaluated at official exchange rates, are not of course appropriate indicators of the
variations of wages in real purchasing power terms across countries, or over time. The
second broad column of the table shows consumption wages in purchasing power parity
terms in different countries. When valued in purchasing power parity terms the median
wage gap between the two regions during the 1970s considerably narrows down to the
same order of magnitude as in the 1965-70 period, and by the late 1980s the wage gap
almost vanishes. While comparable across the countries, these figures are not appropriate
indicators of real wage changes over time. The third broad column of Table 7 shows the
real wage indices (deflated by domestic consumer price index), which indicate the
movement of real wages in different sample countries over time. As can be seen, wage
increases in Africa during the 1970s were not on average different from those of Asia, and
during the 1980s recession real wages in Africa witnessed a precipitous decline.

These wage differentials, which are in line with other evidence on wages in sub-Saharan
Africa (see, e.g., Teranishi, 1987), highlight a number of important points. Firstly, the
average wage differentials in the 1960s were not higher than the expected ranges derived
from a priori reasoning above, based on the agrarian structures and agricultural
productivities in the two regions. Secondly, the 1960s wage differentials and the
movement of wages in the subsequent period do not support the commonly held view that
the power of labour unions or urban interest groups were the main reasons for wage
differential between the two regions. In fact real wages in the recessionary period of the
1980s is sub-Saharan Africa have shown remarkable flexibility.7 Once we take into

7 For a more detailed discussion of this point, using a larger sample of developing countries, see, Karshenas (1997). The
behaviour of wages in Africa shows considerable flexibility compared to, for example, the behaviour of wages in Latin
America during the 1980s recession.

8


account the differences in agrarian conditions in the two regions, it appears that in order to
explain the wage differentials between Asia and Africa one does not need to invoke
arguments about urban bias, government wage legislation or union power in the post-
colonial sub-Saharan Africa.

The implications for the relative magnitudes of the V-ratios in Asia and Africa are
straightforward. Starting with a closed economy situation, on average wages in the non-
agricultural sector in the post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa would be much higher than Asia
relative to agricultural prices. Assuming the same non-agricultural technologies in the two
regions, non-agricultural prices relative to agricultural prices in Africa would be also
proportionately higher. Technologies in the non-agricultural sectors of the two regions,
however, would not be the same. In Africa higher wages would induce the use of labour
saving technologies with a much higher capital intensity as compared to Asia. This would
increase labour productivity in non-agriculture relative to agriculture in Africa and hence
push down V-ratios further. Depending on the degree of protection of the non-agricultural
economy and the prevailing market structures, this effect may be somewhat alleviated if
higher labour productivity in the non-agricultural sector somewhat reduces the relative
price differentials between agriculture and non-agriculture in favour of agricultural
products.

This is of course a simple account of matters in a closed economy context. There are
further technical aspects of agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa which would
help explain lower observed V-ratios relative to Asia. These arise from climatic conditions
which introduce a high degree of seasonality of agricultural labour in sub-Saharan Africa
compared to Asia (see, Delgado and Ranade, 1987). This would not have affected the V-
ratios if productivity measurements were done in terms of hours of work. However, since
the observed V-ratios are measured in terms of relative value added per labourer, the
shorter agricultural season would ceteris paribus reduce the observed ratios in Africa
relative to Asia. V-ratios measured in value added per man year would increase with the
growth of irrigation, multiple cropping, and the development of intensive farming which
would spread agricultural labour more uniformly over the year, that is, as the regularity of
agricultural work approaches that of non-agriculture.

Relaxing the assumption of closed economy would not change the picture dramatically. In
economies where the non-agricultural sector is protected, as was the case in most countries
under study here, the availability of more capital intensive imported technology would help
compensate for high non-agricultural wages in sub-Saharan type economies by increasing
labour productivity, and would hence push the V-ratio even further down. Even under free
trade, as long as the prevailing agrarian institutions remain intact, the differentials in V-
ratios between Asian and African type economies would remain high, because most of the
non-agricultural output in fact consists of non-tradable services. However, in sub-Saharan

9


African type economies which over the years have built up a sizeable non-agricultural
sector under protection, a sudden liberalization of trade would have a dramatic effect, as
these countries will soon find out that none of their non-agricultural industries, even if they
are technically efficient by international standards, could survive international competition
from lower wage Asian type economies. The opening up of such economies to
international competition would have a strong deflationary effect on the non-agricultural
economy in the short and medium run. The resulting recession in the non-agricultural
economy would lead to an increase in the V-ratio by both depressing non-agricultural real
wages and reducing non-agricultural output and productivity. With the resumption of
growth, however, the V-ratios would once again tend to their ‘normal’ levels. Such
‘normal’ levels would of course be changing in the long run with population growth,
agrarian change and particularly with the introduction of labour saving investments in
agriculture.

Once the surplus labour effect or the effect of the differential agrarian structures across the
countries is taken into account, the relatively low V-ratios in sub-Saharan Africa do not
appear puzzling any longer. What indeed requires explanation in this new context is why
the V-ratios in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa amongst the African
countries were so high. The case of South Africa should be clear by now. As noted above
it has a totally different agrarian structure as compared to other countries in Africa, or Asia
for that matter. Other outliers such as Ghana and Nigeria need specific country analysis. It
would be, however, absurd to conclude on the basis of the high V-ratios in Ghana and
Nigeria that in these countries the non-agricultural sectors are ‘plundered’ by agriculture,
in the same way as it is absurd to maintain that low V-ratios are indicative of the
agricultural sector being ‘plundered’.

3. Agriculture and Economic Development with Limited Supply of Labour

With high rates of unemployment and underemployment of labour currently visible in
urban centers in most sub-Saharan African economies, and the fast rates of population
growth which are putting increasing pressure on fragile soils in African agriculture, to refer
to these economies as labour constrained economies may appear paradoxical. Labour
constraints, however, are best highlighted in the context of resource requirements for
sustained growth rather than the current state of employment in the crisis ridden African
urban economies. This could be best seen in relation to the historical experience of growth
in post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa in comparison to surplus labour economies in Asia.
One instructive comparison is the episode of rapid growth during the 1970s in Nigeria, the
most populous country in sub-Saharan Africa, with that of Indonesia in the Far East. The
two countries are oil exporting economies of similar sizes, but with the difference that

10


Indonesian agriculture has labour/land ratios which are three times that of Nigeria. The
prevalence of shifting cultivation which has been a common form of smallholder
agricultural production in Nigeria, and the fact that according to available estimates
cultivated land in Nigeria can be doubled with the prevailing techniques pending the
availability of labour, signify the labour constrained nature of Nigerian agriculture
(Oyejide, 1986). It is not surprising that the oil boom of the 1970s, which led to a rapid
growth of investment in Nigerian economy, induced a substantial increase in real wages
and an inflow of millions of immigrant labourers from neighbouring countries. On the
other hand, the surplus labour economy of Indonesia, throughout a long period of rapid and
sustained economic growth during the 1970s and the 1980s, has shown moderate increases
in real wages and has remained a net labour exporting country.8

This phenomenon can also be seen at a more general regional level, by examining the
trends in real wages and GDP per worker in the two regions shown in Figure 1. The two
variables are measured as simple averages of the indices of real GDP per worker and real
manufacturing wages (deflated by consumer price index) for the countries in the two
regions, as listed in Table 1. There are of course considerable variations in individual
country experiences within each region which necessitate extra care in making
generalizations on the basis of simple regional averages shown in the figure. The
contrasting regional trends shown by the graphs are nevertheless representative of the
experience of many, if not all, the countries in the two respective regions.

As can be seen from the top graph, in sub-Saharan Africa during the growth period of
1965-80 real wages grow more or less in line with the growth of labour productivity, and it
is only during the slowdown of the 1980s and the deep recession in the non-agricultural
urban economy that wages fall behind GDP per worker trends. In Asia on the other hand
productivity growth surges ahead of real wage growth throughout a long period of rapid
and sustained economic growth. The behaviour of real wage/productivity trends in Asia
has a remarkable similarity to the trends envisioned by the surplus labour, dual economy
models of the 1950s and the 1960s.9 The existence of surplus labour in Asian agriculture
has been part of the reason for the possibility of generation of the wage/productivity trends

On labour migration in Indonesia and other Pacific Asian countries see, Fong (1993). The difference in economic
performance between the two countries in the post oil boom era, which inevitably involved a revaluation of the Nigerian
currency relative to the Indonesia one, has in some of the literature been mistakenly attributed to the difference in
exchange rate policies in the two countries.

9 It should be of course remembered that the trends shown in these graphs relate to real wages in manufacturing while
productivity figures are for the economy as a whole. To the extent that manufacturing productivity has increased more
than the other sectors in Asia, the divergence between real wages and productivity growth paths would be even more
pronounced. The same probably holds for Africa during its growth period, where manufacturing productivity growth is
likely to have been above the other sectors. During the 1980s recession in Africa, however, it is more likely that output
and productivity decline in manufacturing has been more pronounced than the other sectors and hence the widening gap
between real wages and manufacturing productivity would not be as pronounced as in the figures.

11


seen in Figure 1. The other part has been the ability of agriculture, through investment and
a constant introduction of new technologies, to provide cheap food and raw materials
necessary for the growth of employment in other sectors and for the feeding of a growing
population in general. Without this latter condition being met, the growth of employment,
output, and productivity in the economy would be choked in early stages by increasing
food prices and erosion of investable surpluses in the rest of the economy. The African
wage/productivity path during its growth period of 1965-80, shown in the graph, is due to
the fact that one or the other, and in the majority of cases both, of these conditions failed to
be met in a large part of that continent.

The fact that the reservation wage in non-agricultural sector in post-colonial sub-Saharan
Africa was close to the average product of labour in agriculture, at the same time meant
that the transfer of labour from agriculture would lead to a decline in agricultural output
more or less equivalent to the reservation wage of the transferred labourer. This is of
course due to the institutional and technological characteristics of sub-Saharan agriculture,
which, to begin with, we may assume as given. A large scale investment effort, as was
certainly needed and also envisaged in the post-colonial euphoria in sub-Saharan Africa,
would under such conditions lead to large increases in demand for food outside agriculture
while, at least in the short-run, the supply of food would be constrained because of the shift
of labour out of agriculture. Under these circumstances, whether by government design or
under the operation of market forces, the rising demand for agricultural output for domestic
use would undermine the profitability of cash crop exports and would shift the composition
of agricultural output towards domestically consumed goods. Wages and prices of
domestically consumed agricultural products would increase relative to the prices of export
cash crops and non-agricultural products. This is not of course a sustainable process. But
to the extent that the country can rely on external loans to cover the balance of payments
gap, the government may be able to maintain the investment process by bolstering profit
margins in non-agricultural activities through cheapening the labour cost by food subsidies.
To the extent that such policies lead to further increase in demand for labour outside
agriculture, it could further lead to a contraction of agriculture (or a slow down in its
growth in an economy with population growth), particularly of the agricultural export
sector. In this type of labour constrained growth process, real wage increases relative to
labour productivity growth would be inevitably much higher than in the Asian type surplus
labour economies. The build-up of foreign debt would, however, bring this type of growth
process sooner or later to an end.

This scenario of growth process in labour constrained economies, however, is by no means
inevitable. The above chain of reasoning started with the key assumption that the
technology of production in the agricultural sector was given. However, with the
possibility of introducing labour saving technologies which can continuously increase the
productivity of labour in agriculture as labour increasingly moves to the non-agricultural

12


sectors, there is no reason why the sub-Saharan type economies could not follow similar
growth processes as the surplus labour Asian economies. Apart from the nature of their
resource availabilities and factor proportions, therefore, the possibilities of introducing
labour saving technological change in agriculture should be considered an important part
of the definition of, and growth prospects in, labour constrained economies.

The economists who consider price distortions as the main cause of African agricultural
underdevelopment, seem to assume that endogenous technological change under the
pressure of market forces and given the right price signals would have automatically taken
care of the necessary technological transformations. They would argue that for example in
the above discussed scenario of growth, rising non-agricultural product wages and relative
prices of domestically consumed agricultural products would induce greater investment in
agriculture and greater utilization of labour saving technologies in the sector. The fact that
this did not take place in sub-Saharan Africa is argued to be because of the price distortions
introduced by government food subsidies and protection of non-agricultural sectors. This
argument, however, ignores some of the important structural features of sub-Saharan
African agriculture, which could either weaken the transmission of price signals or may
limit the ability of the producers to respond to the price signals in the desired manner.
Predominant amongst such structural impediments, as emphasized by most specialists of
African agriculture, are the backward state of infrastructure which introduce prohibitive
transaction costs for a large segment of small peasant food producers in the region, and the
lack of ready availability of new technologies of production suitable to the soil and
climatic conditions in sub-Saharan Africa and at the same time adaptable to the conditions
of small food producers in the region.

The poor state of sub-Saharan African infrastructure relative to Asia has been extensively
discussed in the literature (see, e.g., Ahmed and Rustagi, 1984, Riverson, et al., 1991,
Ahmed and Donovan, 1992, Spencer, 1994, World Bank, 1996, Hayami and Platteau,
1997, and Terranishi, 1997). The low population densities in most sub-Saharan African
countries and the dispersion of rural population over vast expanses of land are argued to
have led to a low density of road networks and other communication links (Hayami and
Platteau, 1997). Once one takes into account the quality of the roads and means of
transport, the gap between sub-Saharan Africa and Asia will be further widened. This
picture is repeated with perhaps even more intensity with respect to other infrastructural
facilities such as electricity, telecommunications, health and sanitation etc. (See, Ahmed
and Donovan, 1992). The backward state of infrastructure in sub-Saharan Africa has
resulted in much higher transaction costs in agricultural trade as compared to Asia (Ahmed
and Rustagi, 1984).

It has been argued that the high transaction costs, resulting in the first place from the lack
of development of infrastructure, have substantially reduced the tradability of agricultural

13


products for the larger part of the small producers in sub-Saharan Africa, and as far as
international trade is concerned transaction costs for the majority of small producers not in
the vicinity of major ports have been prohibitive. According to Delgado (1997, p. 156), this
‘semi-open’ character of sub-Saharan African agriculture is because ‘transport and other
marketing costs for the bulky items in which they trade — including food staples and major
exportables -- end up doubling and tripling the price of exportables at the African dockside
(f.o.b. price) relative to their price at the farm gate...’. This view which is shared by many
other analysts of African agriculture (e.g., Koester, 1986, Jaeger, 1992, Jayne and Jones,
1997), partly explains the lack of response of agricultural prices and output to trade flows
and to the movements of real exchange rate (see, e.g., Teranishi, 1997).

The second and related structural problem facing the post-colonial sub-Saharan African
agriculture pertained to the technological conditions of production and the possibilities of
technological change. The emulation of the Asian type intensive farming, in addition to
investment requirements for the development of economic infrastructure such as transport,
power, and irrigation, as well as new inputs such as fertilizers, seeds, and pesticides, also
required substantial new investments in research and extension services. The agro-climatic
conditions in sub-Saharan African agriculture, which are different from Asia and at the
same time highly varied across different sub-regions in Africa, have meant that a simple
transplantation of the seed/fertilizer technology of the Asian green revolution without basic
new research and development was impractical.10 Without the development of appropriate
new technological packages which could ensure adequate returns as well as stability of
income for small farmers, other public investments in agricultural infrastructure would
have remained by and large ineffective.

As in the case of Asia, therefore, the development of small producer, intensive farming in
sub-Saharan Africa required a substantial gross inflow of new inputs in the form of both
fixed investment and producer goods from outside agriculture. A major difference
between the two regions, however, was the much higher investment requirements in sub-
Saharan African agriculture relative to the availability of resources. This constituted an
important aspect of the structural problems of agriculture in Africa. The central
institutions through which the post-colonial sub-Saharan African countries attempted to
overcome some of these structural problems were the marketing boards. Marketing boards

0 Thus according to Delgado and Mellor (1984, p.666) ‘the adaptive model of technology transfer will not be sufficient
to deal with African problems’. According to Matlon and Spencer (1984, p.672), ‘Such differences [between Asian and
African agriculture] help explain the lack of success to date in the direct introduction of exotic high-yielding cultivars,
except for irrigated rice where the environment can be modified to suit the crop. For example, ICRISAT has had little
success with direct introductions of Indian sorghum and millet varieties to West Africa. And after seven years of variety
trials in which over 2000 varieties were imported for trials in the mangrove swamps of West Africa, the West African
Rice Development Association found only two varieties that perform as well as the best local varieties’. On the
technological conditions of production under different agroclimatic zones in sub-Saharan Africa see, Thomas and
Whittington, 1969. Malton, 1987, Collinson, 1987, and Kuile, 1987.

14


which were inherited from the colonial times, were strengthened in the post-colonial period
and used, in addition to revenue raising devices, as a mechanism for provision of
subsidized inputs, and transportation and marketing outlets for the small producers which
were hitherto cut off from such provisions. As pointed out by Jayne and Jones (1997,
p. 1521) in the context of East and Southern Africa, this ‘became the cornerstone of an
often explicit social contract made by the majority governments at independence in an
attempt to redress the imbalances of the former colonial regimes’. The establishment of
marketing board stations in remote regions and the policy of pan-territorial pricing, for
example constituted a substantial subsidy to small producers, and of course a tax on
producers with better infrastructure and market access. The grant of subsidized inputs and
credits to producers in remote areas constituted a similar tax/subsidy mechanism. A large
part of what in recent years has been referred to as taxation of agriculture, thus took the
form of a redistribution of income within agriculture through these implicit internal
tax/subsidy mechanisms, rather than the ‘plundering’ of agriculture by the other sectors.
This is particularly manifest in the rapid buildup of financial deficits of marketing boards
from the mid-1970s in most countries, which meant that agriculture was becoming a
growing burden on the rest of the economy.

This strategy seems to have been successful in smallholding areas where other
complementary conditions, particularly improved technology and other supporting
services, existed; e.g., the smallholder response to new varieties of maize in the so-called
maize belt in Southern and Eastern Africa, tea in Kenya and cotton in southern Mali
(Mellor, et al., 1987).11 The problem with this strategy in many countries, however, was
that in most cases these other complementary conditions were not met, and hence the
subsidies to smallholders, to the extent that they actually did receive them, did not lead to
noticeable productivity gains in agriculture. This can be seen from the poor performance
in terms of growth and variability in yields for cereals and coarse grains in most sub-
Saharan African countries, and in particular in relation to Asia, as shown in Table 8. As
can be seen, the average cereal yields in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole which were about
50 per cent of those in Asia in the early 1960s, fell to 30 per cent of the latter in the early
1990s. An even more disappointing picture is exhibited by the yields of coarse grains,
which starting from a more or less equal average value as in Asia in the early 1960s, fell to
less than half of the latter in the early 1990s.

The main source of the problem was that this strategy very thinly spread the scarce
investible resources across vast areas of smallholder agriculture which, as noted above, did

According to Jayne and Jones (1997, p. 1522), ‘Where smallholder grain production and uptake of hybrid seed and
fertilizer have expanded significantly since independence [in South and East Africa], this growth has been associated
with major investments in state marketing infrastructure and credit disbursement, and state coordination of credit, input
delivery, and assured outlets for crop sale’.

15


not have the basic pre-requisites for modem intensive farming. An important implication
of the lack of adequate infrastructure, particularly the meager irrigation facilities, is the
high degree of year to year variation in agricultural output and yields. As shown in Table
8, the standard deviation of the annual growth rates of average cereal yields was rapidly
increasing in Africa, and was between 3 to 4 times higher than Asia during the 1961-95
period. A similar, though more moderate, difference in the variability of yields with
respect to coarse grains is evident in the table. With such high degrees of variability of
yields, indicating the high risks involved for farmers investing in new technologies in
African agriculture, the low response of farmers to subsidies is not surprising. A more
appropriate strategy for the development of smallholder, intensive farming under the
prevailing conditions in most sub-Saharan African countries would have been to
concentrate the scarce investible resources within a more limited area, in areas with the
highest growth potential, and to encourage the populations of the remoter, less hospitable
regions to migrate for work to such growth poles. It is only under such concentrations of
population and infrastructural pre-requisites that the conditions appropriate for Asian type
intensive farming could be met.12

The difference between the more successful Asian agriculture and that of sub-Saharan
Africa, therefore, was not necessarily that one was taxed more heavily than the other. In
the case of Asia, agricultural taxes were combined with a more adequate provision of
public infrastructural investment and productivity enhancing technologies, so that the
benefit to the farmers outweighed the effect of taxes. In the case of Africa, on the other
hand, taxes were paid by a faction of agricultural producers — those closer to and with
better means of access to major domestic markets, and export cash crop producers — but
the benefits, to the extent that they did not dissipate in the inefficient practices of
marketing boards, were spread over vast areas and spent on subsidies to farmers with much
less effectiveness than in Asia. The root cause of the problem was of course the extreme
limitations of the resource base relative to the size of the required investments. It is to
these issues, namely the financing of accumulation that we shall next turn.

4. Financing Accumulation and Foreign Aid

A large share of the required investment for the development of smallholder intensive
agriculture in post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa took the form of public goods which had to
be produced by the government -- e.g., roads and communications, electricity, large scale
irrigation and land improvement, research and extension services etc. It may not be
therefore inappropriate to begin with the financial constraints facing the governments in

12 This strategy is also suggested by Ahmed and Rustagi (1984) and Hayami and Plalteau (1997).

16


the region. The problem of financing public investments of this type has been extensively
discussed in the economic development literature in relation to surplus labour economies.
Given the possibility of using labour intensive techniques with minimum requirements of
foreign exchange or other scarce resources for this type of investment, it has been argued
that in surplus labour economies at early stages of their development financial constraints
should not pose any serious problems for such investments. The problem of financing
investments of this type in a labour surplus economy is what the classical economists
referred to as the procurement of a wage fund. As long as agricultural productivity grows
at a rate sufficient to provide food for the newly employed labour in the investment sector
without inflationary food price effects, there would be no financial constraints as such to
the amount of investment that can be undertaken. Once the existence of surplus labour
ensures the availability of labour at given real wages, the investment by government or
other non-agricultural sectors would be to a large extent self financing, in the sense that the
surpluses generated in the economy as a result of the new investments, and the taxes
generated thereby, would finance the original investment (see, e.g., Lewis, 1954, Kalecki
1970, Kahn, 1972).

This classical model which is highly relevant to the experience of Asian economies,
however, breaks down in the case of labour constrained sub-Saharan African type
economies. In the case of labour constrained economies, major investment attempts by the
government without prior procreation of the required savings through taxation would
dissipate in inflationary spirals, as the movement of labour from the food producing sector
to the new investment sector would reduce the supply of food while increasing the demand
for food outside agriculture. The resulting rise in food prices and in the incomes of the
smallholder food producing sector, under the prevailing conditions in sub-Saharan African
agriculture, would be also unlikely to generate the necessary finance through voluntary
savings of small farmers. The extreme backwardness of rural financial markets in Africa,
and the lack of opportunities for profitable investment in their own production activities,
because of the lack of appropriate production technologies and the necessary infrastructure,
would mean that higher incomes are likely to be by and large translated into higher
consumption by farmers (see, e.g., Delgado and Ranade, 1987). This is an additional
reason for the significance of taxation for capital accumulation in sub-Saharan African
labour constrained type economies.

In sub-Saharan African countries that were not large mineral exporters, the major source of
government tax revenue in the immediate post-colonial period inevitably had to be the
agricultural sector. The majority of agricultural producers, namely the smallholder food
producing sector, however, were not taxed and as noted above appear to have been the
recipients of relatively large subsidies. This was only partly due to the post-colonial
‘social contract’ that underpinned the politics of the newly independent states as discussed
above. Direct taxes are very difficult to administer with respect to millions of small

17


subsistence producers, specially under the conditions prevailing in African agriculture.
Even indirect taxes, e.g., through the purchase prices of marketing boards, would be
difficult to implement under these circumstances; as, when official prices are below market
prices it would be extremely costly to ensure delivery to the marketing boards by millions
of dispersed small producers. The main burden of taxation therefore in economies which
did not have major mineral exports had to fall on the export cash crop producers, because
they were more amenable to government boarder controls.

Taxation of the smallholder food producing sector in sub-Saharan African type economies,
could have played a dual role in financing investment. Apart from procuring the necessary
revenue for government investment, it could also help keep wages in the non-agricultural
sectors low, by lowering the post tax average product of labour in agriculture, or the
reservation wage for workers in non-agriculture. In the absence of such taxes, therefore,
the export cash crop producing sector would be doubly squeezed; once to raise revenues to
finance government investment, and once as a result of the rise in real wages resulting
from the transfer of labour from the food sector to the investment sector. This latter type
effect, which amounts to a revaluation of the real exchange rate facing cash crop producers
(a rise in the price of non-traded goods relative to export cash crops), also takes place when
government investment is financed by revenues from mineral exports or by foreign aid.
However to the extent that these other types of financing also provide the foreign exchange
for the import of cheaper foodstuff and other wage goods, they can shift part of the burden
off the export cash crop sector to the food producing sector.

The available evidence does not allow exact estimates of the burden of taxation in sub-
Saharan African economies, which in any case would require a detailed country-by-
country study. Under the prevailing conditions in most post-colonial sub-Saharan African
economies, however, it is clear that the main burden of taxation had to fall on the foreign
trade sector, either export cash crops or mineral exports and in some cases on food
producers with better access to markets and with high substitution possibilities for cash
crop production. The rest of the economy was either too small (e.g., manufacturing sector
profits) or too costly to tax (e.g., small food producing sector in the outlying regions or
informal services). To the extent that high non-agricultural wages were a reflection of the
high supply price of labour under the prevailing agrarian conditions, without taxing the
small food producers the taxation of non-agricultural wages also could not be very
effective in raising government savings. The extent to which agriculture as a whole was
taxed depended on specific country conditions, e.g., whether there existed a relatively large
mineral exporting sector and the nature of the ‘social contract’ underpinning the politics of
the newly independent states. As noted above, through the pan-territorial pricing system
and direct input subsidies, at least a part of the agricultural producers appear to have
received considerable subsidies during the period of operations of marketing boards. In
particular, the growing net deficits of the marketing boards indicates that in most countries

18


the outlying food producing sectors were increasingly becoming a net burden on the rest of
the economy.

Similar considerations also underpin the low saving capacity of the private sector in sub-
Saharan Africa relative to Asia. As the experience of various Asian countries has shown,
when the appropriate technological conditions for profitable investment in agriculture
exist, small peasant proprietors do show a high propensity to save and invest in agriculture
and related rural activities. For most smallholder producers in sub-Saharan African
agriculture, however, as noted above, the appropriate conditions did not exist, and in the
case of cash crop producers and more prosperous food producers with better access to
markets and with adequate infrastructure, a good part of their surpluses were likely to have
been taxed through the pan-territorial pricing system and export taxes. What however is
likely to have contributed most to the different savings performances of the private sector
in the two regions over time, is the rapid growth of an industrial capitalist sector in Asia,
and the resulting increase in the share of profits in national income, and the weakness of
this development in post-colonial Africa. As pointed out by Arthur Lewis (1954, p.157),
‘the major source of savings are profits, and if we find that savings are increasing as a
proportion of national income, we may take it for granted that this is because the share of
profits in the national income is increasing’. This seems to have been indeed the case in
relation to the Asian countries where accroding to recent studies the so called ‘investment-
profitability-savings nexus’ has been at the center of rapid increase in saving ratios (see,
e.g., Akyuz and Gore, 1996 and Singh, 1996). The existence of surplus labour is again
critical for the Asian economies to have outperformed African economies in this respect.
Surplus agricultural labour allowed the rapid expansion of the capitalist sector which
increased the share of profits in national income in Asia. In addition, as discussed in the
previous section, the slow increase in real wages, relative to labour productivity growth in
the modem sector in Asia, implied a growing share of profits within the sector itself. In
contrast, rising real wages in sub-Saharan African labour constrained economies has meant
both a slower growth of the capitalist sector and a lower rate of appropriation of the fruits
of productivity growth by profits. To some extent most sub-Saharan African economies
seem to have tried to get round this handicap by relying on more capital intensive imported
technology. This strategy which would initially appear to be effective in relieving labour
constraints and attaining a higher share of surplus in the modem sector, is however
unlikely to be sustainable in the long run. Given that sub-Saharan African countries could
not compete with more industrialized countries using similar capital intensive techniques,
combined with the mounting import requirements of this strategy, it would sooner or later
lead to a balance of payments crisis.

It should not be therefore surprising to observe that one of the most striking comparative
features of the development process in Asia and post-colonial sub-Saharan Africa has been
the difference between their savings performances. This can be seen from Table 9, which

19


shows average national savings and national resource gaps as a percentage of GDP for
Asia and sub-Saharan Africa over the 1965-94 period. National resource gap is defined as
national savings minus gross domestic investment. Despite the possibly very serious
measurement errors in savings ratios at individual country level, the figures shown in the
table can give an overall picture of broad regional averages and trends in savings ratios
which may not be far off the mark. As can be seen, during the 1965-74 period, the first
post-colonial decade for which data is available, the average savings ratio for sub-Saharan
Africa was less than Asia average, but the gap between the two regions in this period was
closing rapidly. From the mid-1970s, however, while the average Asian savings ratios
continue their upward trend, the average saving ratios in Africa follow a declining trend.
While during the 1970-74 period the average savings ratio in Africa was only about 5
percentage points below Asia, which was not statistically significant, by 1990-94 the gap
between the two had widened by a staggering 17.5 percentage points (Table 9).

A detailed quantitative study of savings ratios in the two regions falls beyond the confines
of the present study. However, a number of observations on the behaviour of average
savings ratios in the two regions in the light of our previous analysis can be made. The
first point is that during the 1965-75 period the savings effort in Africa, as indicated by
savings ratio relative to the level of per capita GDP, was relatively better than in Asia and
was improving over time. For example, comparing the data on savings ratio in Table 9
with per capita GDP figures in Table 10, it can be seen that during the 1970-74 period,
average savings ratio in Africa was 14.2 %, which was equal to the average for Asia during
1965-69, while average per capita GDP level in Africa in 1970-74 was only 80 per cent of
the 1965-69 per capita GDP level in Asia. The reason for the relatively high savings ratios
during the early years of the post-colonial period in Africa was the high share of exports in
GDP in these countries and the vigorous investment efforts by the governments in the
region using the proceeds from the taxation of the export sector. As shown in Table 10,
during 1965-69 period average export ratio for Africa was 24.1 per cent, which was about
9 percentage point above Asia average. The proceeds from the export sector combined
with foreign aid allowed relatively high investment rates in sub-Saharan Africa during the
first post-colonial decade. As can be seen from Table 9, average investment ratio
(combined savings ratio and national resource gap) during 1965-74 in sub-Saharan Africa
was only 2-3 percentage points below Asia average. The fact that both these sources of
financing (i.e., export revenues and foreign aid) were in foreign exchange allowed the
investment process to continue in the face of the labour constraints in Africa, by
increasingly relying on more capital intensive imported technologies.

In the subsequent period, however, other structural elements discussed above came to their
own and led to a rapid divergence in the trends in savings ratios in the two regions. From
the mid-1970s, growing instability in commodity export prices and a persistent
deterioration in primary commodity terms of trade undermined the main sources of foreign

20


exchange, savings, and government revenue in most sub-Saharan African economies. As
can be seen from Table 11, sub-Saharan African countries during the 1975-93 period have
been subject to sever negative terms of trade shocks. Though on average the impact of the
adverse terms of trade movements on Asia and Africa does not seem to be significantly
different, the much more diversified export base of the Asian countries has meant that they
could cope with the resulting income losses much more easily. As shown in Table 11, the
average share of manufacturing exports for Asia in 1970-75 was about 36 per cent, and by
the early 1990s these countries were able to increase this share to over 70 per cent. The
flexibility with which the Asian surplus labour economies could respond to adverse terms
of trade shocks by increasing the volume of their manufactured exports, could not be
emulated by the African labour constrained economies under any conceivable policy
regime. In this respect it is important to note that a few countries in Africa, such as Ghana,
who have managed, by dint of exchange rate devaluations and wage compression, to
increase their share of manufactured exports since the mid-1980s, have suffered
phenomenal terms of trade losses.13 From the mid-1970s, therefore, with the declining
export revenues, partly due to the terms of trade effect, partly due to supply constraints at
home, and partly due to demand constraints facing primary exporters, the growth process
in most sub-Saharan African economies came to a standstill. Initially, during the second
half of the 1970s, some African countries managed to increase their pace of investment by
a substantial increase in foreign borrowing. The average external resource gap for Africa,
which was not significantly different from Asia in the earlier periods, jumped to more than
half of the national savings ratio in 1975-79 (Table 9). From the early 1980s, however, a
declining savings ratio has meant that the pace of investment could be only maintained
with a rapid build up of foreign debt. The national resource gap in sub-Saharan Africa on
average has increased by more than four folds between the early 1970s and the early
1990s, while the savings ratio has declined by nearly 50 per cent, with the investment ratio
remaining on average more or less stable at around 18-19 per cent, about 10 percentage
points below Asia average (Table 9).

In recent years it has become increasingly popular amongst economists to regard low
savings ratios in developing countries as a consequence of high rates of foreign aid. In
view of the declining per capita incomes (particularly noticeable in the non-agricultural
economy), and the structural problems which have undermined the savings capability of
most sub-Saharan African economies since the late 1970s, this seems to be a misguided
view, at least as far as Africa is concerned. Another popular belief, which in the light of
the above analysis proves to be misguided, is that high wages in sub-Saharan African
economies have the result of high rates of inflow of foreign aid. As noted above, the

13 In Ghana for example the real exchange rate in 1990 was twenty time lower the 1983 level. The terms of trade effect
in Ghana during 1980-85 was -76.4 % of the value of exports and during 1985-93 it was -32.1%.

21


availability of foreign exchange which makes it possible to use capital intensive
technologies, if anything, would reduce wage pressures at any given rate of investment.
sub-Saharan African economies could not have maintained the same rates of investment,
which clearly have not been very high, while using more labour intensive technologies, as
long as they were not prepared or were not able to tax the smallholder agricultural
producers.

5. Concluding Remarks

An important aspect of the production conditions in post-colonial sub-Saharan African
countries, which distinguishes them from Asian economies, has been the relative
abundance of land in relation to labour and the meager stock of man-made capital in
African agriculture. This has profoundly affected the nature and the development path of
agrarian institutions and production relations, as well as the conditions of production in the
non-agricultural sectors and the intersectoral relations in the two regions. The post-
independence governments in both regions followed broadly similar strategies of
development, centered around the construction of national economies and industrialization.
In the case of Asian countries the existence of an abundant supply of labour in agriculture
allowed fast rates of industrial growth to take place at low and competitive wages. This
also meant that after a short period of learning and skill acquisition, the new industries in
Asia could become competitive enough to export and hence further benefit from
economies of scale and learning by exporting. The abundant supply of labour in the
countryside in densely populated Asian economies also contributed to the creation of an
adequate infrastructure and the ease of integration of the agricultural sector in the national
market. Under these circumstances the growth of agricultural and non-agricultural sectors
assumed a complementary and mutually reinforcing character. The extent to which
agriculture made a net finance contribution to other sectors varied across the countries
depending on productivity growth and the efficiency of resource use within agriculture
(see, Karshenas 1995).

In the case of sub-Saharan African economies, however, with limited supply of labour and
relative abundance of cultivable land, the non-agricultural sectors faced relatively high and
steep wage curves. This meant that unlike Asia, most of the import substituting industries
which were developed in the post independence period could be only sustained under
increasing protection. The lack of basic infrastructure in most African countries prevented
the integration of a large part of the agrarian economies into the national and international
market. The low degree of market integration of African agriculture meant that the post-
colonial states had to play a more direct role in creating a national economy and in
intersectoral resource flows than in Asia. The financial requirements for the setting up of

22


the basic infrastructural pre-requisites of a modem economy were however beyond the
reach of many sparsely populated agrarian economies in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly
those countries without rich mineral exports. A prominent aspect of this financing problem
was the lack of surplus agricultural labour, which in the case of densely populated
countries in Asia had played a critical role in labour intensive infrastructural investment in
agriculture. Under these circumstances, and given the lack of capital and appropriate
technologies to alleviate the agricultural labour constraint, the substitution aspect of
sectoral growth rates became more prominent than the complementarities as was the case
in surplus labour Asian economies.

Policy lessons from the Asian experience which do not take into account the structural
differences between the agrarian economies in the two regions sketched above, are likely
to be misleading. In addition, any relevant policy lessons need to take into account
specific country characteristics, particularly those pertaining to agrarian institutions which
are likely to be different in individual countries both within and between the regions. Lack
of attention to such regional and country specific factors is likely to lead to undue
overgeneralizations. One such overgeneralization common to a large part of the existing
literature, is the view that low investment and growth in sub-Saharan African agriculture
has been due to the disincentive effects of overtaxation of agriculture by the governments
through the price or the terms of trade mechanism. As we have argued above, once the
structural specificities of sub-Saharan African agriculture are taken into account, the low
relative value added ratios compared to Asia do not necessarily support the overtaxation or
the agricultural squeeze hypothesis. Furthermore, for the vast majority of the subsistence
farmers facing prohibitively high transport costs, lack of market integration reduces the
significance of the price incentive argument. In fact, the attempt by the governments to
integrate such producers into the national economy through the operations of the marketing
boards could be interpreted as a subsidization of the low productivity subsistence sub-
sector of agriculture by the more productive commercial sub-sector, or a redistribution
within agriculture. While the price incentive effect could be said to have had an adverse
effect on export cash crop producers, the main reason for the failure of this policy to
stimulate agricultural output for the vast majority of subsistence producers was that limited
resources were spread thinly across vast areas and spent on subsidies without noticeably
altering the infrastructural and technological conditions of production for the subsistence
farmers. The root cause of this phenomenon, as discussed above, was the extreme
limitations of the resource base relative to the size of the required investments.

The dismantling of the marketing boards and the introduction of market liberalization
measures in most sub-Saharan African economies in recent years is likely to stimulate the
growth of output in areas with better access to markets and favorable infrastructural
conditions and particularly for export cash crop producers. These policies, however, are
unlikely to solve the main problem that the post-independence African governments aimed

23


to tackle, namely the lack of integration of the vast majority of subsistence farmers in the
national economy and the adverse infrastructural and technological conditions of
production in the outlying regions. Under the current conditions of transportation as well
as the prevailing technological conditions of production in the subsistence sector, it would
be a mistake to assume that agricultural output would be stimulated under the trickle down
effect of the growth of the export cash crop sector. With greater urban populations and the
slump in primary commodity prices in the international markets, most sub-Saharan African
countries at present face much more stringent financial limitations than they faced in the
immediate post colonial period for the provision of an adequate infrastructure for the vast
outlying agricultural lands. Under these circumstances, in order to emulate the success of
Asian type intensive peasant farming it may be necessary to create similar rural population
concentrations as in Asia, through possible movement of populations towards agricultural
growth poles in areas with favorable market access and suitable agro-climatic conditions.
This of course should be done through economic incentive mechanisms rather than forced
resettlement schemes. For example, the decentralization of the fiscal system can go a long
way in generating this effect by concentrating infrastructural expenditures by local
governments in high productivity, high income areas. Nevertheless, this means that the
role of governments in intersectoral resource flows is likely to remain much more
prominent in sub-Saharan Africa as compared to Asia, even under a more liberalized price
regime. With the current financial constraints, an agricultural led growth strategy in most
sub-Saharan African countries would also require a high degree of reliance on foreign aid.
As we have argued in this paper, contrary to what seems to be a fashionable idea in current
economics literature, foreign aid rather than being a substitute for domestic savings is
likely to be an important complement to savings generation and investment under the
prevailing structural conditions in most sub-Saharan African economies.

24


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27


Figure I: Real Wage and Real GDP per Worker Indices for

Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1966-1992

- - Real Wage â– 

-GDP per Worker

Real Wage Index in Asia and Africa

130

j“ • " Africa---------Asia

Notes: Indices refer to simple averages for sample countries
List of countries as in Table 1.

Source: Karshenas, 1998.


Table 1: Selected Agricultural Indicators in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia

/ II III IV V
Rural Employment (%) Share of Agriculture V-Ratio(2) * Share of Exports %
Population (%) Agriculture Industry in GNP (%)(l) Primary Agriculture
1965 1965 1965 1965 1965 1970 1970

Sub-Saharan Africa (3)

1st Quartile 76.8 80.3 3.1 28.9 6.9 87.5 50.7
Median 87.2 86.2 4.7 42.2 9.8 93.6 81.0
3rd Quartile 93.3 89.5 7.9 46.9 14.7 98.6 91.0
Asia(4)
1st Quartile 71.7 58.1 8.4 29.1 22.6 70.3 38.1
Median 80.7 65.2 12.5 37.7 28.3 92.1 54.4
2nd Quartile 83.6 78.8 14.8 43.1 41.6 98.5 66.2
Africa (Mean) 84.5 82.5 6.3 38.1 13.2 87.3 68.3
Asia (Mean) 79.1 67.7 11.5 38.2 30.6 78.8 53.9
t-test for the difference between the Means 1.61 3.38 -2.92 -0.04 -3.53 0.90 1.40

Notes: 1- Share of agricultural value added in total GDP. 2- Value added per agricultural worker as a percentage of value added

per head in the non-agricultural sector. 3- Refers to the following 28 African countries: Benin, Boswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon,
Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d'lvoir, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania,

Mozambique. Niger. Nigeria. Senegal, SierTa Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

4- Refers to the following 10 Asian Countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines,
Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators. 1997.


Table 2: Trends in Value Added Ratio in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1965-95

V-Ratio (%)(1)

1965-66 1970-71 1975-76 1980-81 1985-86 1990-91 1994-95
Median
sub-Saharan Africa 8.8 9.8 10.3 11.3 11.7 13.5 16.6
Asia 27.1 30.7 31.4 26.5 28.2 28.2 27.0
Mean
sub-Saharan Africa 12.4 13.6 16.2 16.5 17.6 19.0 21.3
Asia 31.1 30.5 32.4 27.4 29.9 30.7 29.8
t-test for the difference between the Means -4.2 -4.3 -3.7 -2.7 -2.6 -2.1 -1.5

Notes: 1 - Value added per agricultural worker as a percentage of value added per head in the

non-agricultural sector at current prices. Averages refer to countries listed in Table 1.

Source: As Table 1.


Table 3: Decomposition of the Trends in Value Added Ratio in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1965-95

Trend Growth Rates in: Trend Growth Rates in:

Labour Productivity Relative Labour Productivity Relative
V-Ratio(l> Agricult. Non-Agr. Price(2) V-Ratio(l) Agricult. Non-Agr. Price(2)
1965-80 1965-80 1965-80 1965-80 1980-95 1980-95 1980-95 1980-95

Median sub-Saharan Africa 1.4 0.2 -0.5 0.6 2.9 0.4 -2.2 0.1
Asia -0.6 1.3 2.4 1.3 0.0 2.1 2.5 0.8
Mean sub-Saharan Africa 1.9 0.2 -0.3 1.3 1.9 0.4 -2.1 -0.6
Asia -0.5 1.6 3.0 0.8 -0.2 2.4 2.8 0.2
t-test for the difference between the Means 2.30 -1.91 -3.69 0.60 2.22 -2.85 -4.48 -1.14
Percentage of countries with negative growth rate sub-Saharan Africa 27 48 52 24 25 46 82 50
Asia 50 10 0 30 50 0 20 30

Notes: 1 - Value added per agricultural worker as a percentage of value added per worker in the non-agricultural sector.

2- terms of trade is calculated as the residual of trend growth rates in other variables at individual country level.

3- Averages refer to the countries listed in Table 1.

Source: As Table 1.


Table 4: Labour Land Ratio and Population Growth in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1965-94

Labour / Land Ratio*l) % Land(2) Under Crops Population Growth Rates(j)
Rural Total
1965 1994 1965 1965-94 1965-94
sub-Saharan Africa
1st Quartile 46 110 8 1.7 2.6
Median 158 236 16 2.3 2.8
3rd Quartile 295 396 33 2.6 3.1
Asia
1 st Quartile 776 980 81 1.2 1.7
Median 900 1113 90 1.4 2.1
2nd Quartile 1012 1409 95 1.9 2.4
Africa (Mean) 198 319 24 2.1 2.9
Asia (Mean) 1024 1358 83 1.2 2.1
t-test for the difference
between the Means -4.47 -3.32 -7.58 2.00 4.20

Notes: 1. Labour land retio is defined as persons per hectare of agricultural land (Arable land plus pastures).

2. Percentage agricultural land under annual and permanent crops (including fallow).

3. Growth rates refer to annual trend growth rates. Averages refer to the countries listed in Table 1.
Source: FAOSTAT, FAO


Table 5: Irrigation Ratio, Fertilizer and Tractor Use in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1965-94

Fertilizer Consumption Irrigation Ratio Tractors in Use
1965 1980 1994 1965 1980 1994 1965 1980 1994
Median sub-Saharan Africa 1.9 6.4 7.5 0.5 0.9 1.3 3.1 8.4 10.3
Asia 25.0 65.2 141.1 27.1 32.0 38.9 3.9 23.2 77.1
Mean sub-Saharan Africa 4.8 12.9 12.7 2.2 3.8 4.6 14.5 19.9 22.3
Asia 46.3 147.1 237.3 29.5 38.3 43.8 15.4 55.6 146.4
t-test for the difference between the Means -2.21 -2.73 -3.48 -4.75 -5.10 -5.51 -0.09 -1.33 -2.49
South Africa 29.8 85.6 51.3 7.3 9.1 8.7 113.5 138.8 85.9

Notes: 1. Figures refer to kg per ha of fertilizer use, percentage of irrigated land, and tractors per 10000 ha (per arable land).
2. Regional Averages refer to the countries listed in Table 1.

Source: FAOSTAT, FAO


Table 6: Output, Land and Labour Productivity in Sub-Saharan African and Asian Agriculture, 1965-94

Output labour/land Land Ratio Output Land Ratio Output Labour Ratio
1965 1965 1965 1980 1994 1965 1980 1994

Median

sub-Saharan Africa 4 153 307 406 516 2265 2343 2541
Asia 37 900 2777 3744 5281 2887 4070 4032
Mean
sub-Saharan Africa 8 198 484 555 794 2905 3337 3690
Asia 192 1024 3112 4730 6629 3234 4597 7608
t-test for the difference
between the Means -4.54 -3.94 -3.51 -0.40 -0.79 -1.24
South Africa 23.6 24 307 471 495 11725 23549 25639

Notes: Output is measured in wheat equivalent units in mn tons in 1980 world relative prices. Land and labour

productivity are in kg per hectare and per economically active population in wheat equivalent units.
Medians and means refer to the countries in Table 1. Means are simple averages.

Source: Karshenas (1998), and FAOSTAT, FAO.


Table 7: Manufacturing Wages in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1965-94

In U.S. Dollars at Official Exchange Rates Consumption Wages at PPP Exchange Rates0} Real Wage Index(2)
1965-70 1975-80 1985-90 1965-70 1975-80 1985-90 1965-70 1975-80 1985-90

Median

Africa 700 2593 1692 180 330 508 98 100 88
Asia 402 741 1215 100 197 454 82 100 133
Mean Africa 861 2459 2506 162 349 494 109 100 85
Asia 433 901 2037 107 206 509 87 100 145
t-Test for difference between the Means 3.95 4.48 0.53 2.43 3.21 -0.13 1.60 -4.15

Notes: 1. Consumption wages are indices whith Asia median=100, evaluated at PPP consumption exchange rate.

2. Wages deflated by domestic consumer price index. Indeces refer to period averages.

Source: UNIDO, INDSTAT 1996, World Penn Tables Mark 5.6, and World Economic Indicators, World Bank.


Table 8: Growth and Variability in Cereal & Coarse Grain Yields in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1961-1995

Yield (kg/ha) Trend Growth Rates Annual Variation
average 1961-65 average 1990-95 1961-75 1975-95 1961-71 1971-81 1981-95
Cereal?
Africa (median) 8.0 10.0 0.7 0.8 12.0 14.5 16.7
Asia (median) 15.3 28.1 2.2 2.0 7.1 5.6 4.5
Afeica (mean) 8.1 10.2 0.5 0.7 15.5 19.0 22.5
Asia (mean) 16.3 30.9 2.2 2.1 6.9 6.9 5.8
t-Test for difference between the Means -3.89 -5.08 -3.03 -3.39 2.84 3.53 5.47
Coarse Grains
Africa (median) 7.9 9.2 0.6 0.7 12.9 15.4 18.1
Asia (median) 7.6 14.1 1.4 2.2 10.4 7.5 6.9
Afeica (mean) 7.6 9.2 0.2 0.5 16.4 20.6 24.1
Asia (mean) 10.5 19.4 1.9 2.2 1,1.4 11.4 7.6
t-Test for difference between the Means -1.68 -2.62 -2.50 -3.58 1.36 2.05 5.08

Notes: 1. Annual variation in yields is measured as the standard deviation of annual growth rates.
2. Regional averages refer to countries listed in Table 1. Means are simple averages.

Source: FAOSTAT, FAO.


Table 9: Savings Ratio and Resource Gap in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1965-94

Saving Ratio Resource Gap
1965-70 1970-74 1975-79 1980-84 1990-94 1965-69 1970-74 1975-79 1980-84 1990-94
Median sub-Saharan Africa 8.0 12.9 12.4 8.3 5.9 -5.7 -3.4 -5.9 -6.9 -8.6
Asia 14.5 18.8 24.8 23.2 23.9 -3.1 -1.7 -2.4 -3.9 -2.1
Mean sub-Saharan Africa 10.0 14.2 13.0 8.2 8.8 -6.1 -2.5 -7.5 -8.4 -10.3
Asia 14.8 18.6 21.7 23.2 26.3 -2.9 -1.7 -2.1 -3.5 -2.2
t-Test for difference between the Means -1.94 -1.75 -3.10 -5.84 -5.31 -1.81 -0.31 -3.50 -2.52 -3.50

Notes: 1. Savings ratio is national savings as a ratio of GDP. 2- Resource gap is savings ratio minus gross investment ratio.
3. Regional averages are based on countries listed in Table 1. Means are simple averages.

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators.


Table 10: Per Capita GDP and Share of Exports in GDP in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, 1965-94

Per Capita GDP Exports as % of GDP
1965-69 1970-74 1975-79 1980-84 1990-92 1965-69 1970-74 1975-79 1980-84 1990-94
Median sub-Saharan Africa 58.2 67.1 76.6 69.3 66.1 23.9 23.6 23.9 23.4 23.4
Asia 100.0 109.5 127.3 137.6 149.1 10.4 19.5 21.2 22.9 26.8
Mean sub-Saharan Africa 69.1 77.8 80.6 82.0 76.9 24.1 24.2 25.7 25.0 26.7
Asia 93.7 110.9 136.5 160.5 218.5 15.7 17.2 21.0 22.5 29.4
t-Test for difference between the Means -2.11 -2.03 -2.54 -2.78 -2.78 1.88 1.67 0.93 0.48 -0.41

Notes: 1. Per Capita GDP is measured in 1985 world prices in US dollar, Asian median 1965-69=100.
3. Regional averages are based on countries listed in Table 1. Means are simple averages.

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators.


Table 11: Terms of Trade Effect, Manufacturing Exports and Debt Ratios in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, J965-93

Terms of Trade Effect as Percentage of Exports Manufacturing Export Shares Debt/GNP Ratio Debt Service Export Ratio 1990
1965-70 1970-75 1975-80 1980-85 1985-93 1970-75 1980-85 1990-93 1990
Median sub-Saharan Africa 3.5 -5.1 -2.1 -6.7 -13.6 7.7 7.9 19.0 89.0 20.4
Asia -4.1 -2.4 1.0 -5.0 -9.1 43.1 48.1 72.7 49.3 23.2
Mean sub-Saharan Africa 6.8 -5.3 -1.4 -9.4 -19.0 11.3 10.9 17.6 120.9 21.9
Asia -3.8 0.8 -4.6 -8.4 -11.3 35.6 44.8 70.1 44.1 20.4
t-Test for difference between the Means 2.28 -1.08 0.54 -0.22 -0.87 -2.44 -4.26 -9.87 4.28 0.41

Notes: 1. Terms of Trade Effect is measured as X(l/pm - 1/px) where X is the value of terminal year exports and
Pm and Px are import and export price indexes. The values shown are % of terminal year exports.

2. Regional averages are based on countries listed in Table 1. Means are simple averages.

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators.










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