Measuring African development: Past and present. Introduction to the Special Issue

Morten Jerven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The chief economist for the World Bank's Africa region, Shanta Devarajan, delivered a devastating assessment of the capacity of African states to measure development in his 2013 article “Africa's Statistical Tragedy”. Is there a “statistical tragedy” unfolding in Africa now? If so then examining the roots of the problem of provision of statistics in poor economies is certainly of great importance. This Special Issue on measuring African development in the past and in the present draws on the historical experience of colonial French West Africa, Ghana, Sudan, Mauritania and Tanzania and the more contemporary experiences of Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The authors each reflect on the changing ways statistics represent African economies and how they are used to govern them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Development Studies
Issue number1
Early online date1 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Africa
  • statistics
  • economic growth
  • development
  • state capacity

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