The Technological Dilemma of Poor Countries by Dani Rodrik
Recent patterns of technological change in the rich world have made it more difficult for low-income countries to develop and converge with the income levels of the developed world. These changes have helped deepen economic and technological dualism even within the most advanced segments of developing country economies.
CAMBRIDGE – Economic development is based on creating more productive jobs for an ever-increasing portion of the workforce. Traditionally, it is industrialization that has enabled poor countries to embark on this transformation. Factory work might not have been glorious, but it empowered farmers to become blue collar workers, transforming the economy and society.
Many low-income countries in Africa and elsewhere hope to take a similar path in the future. While no one necessarily expects China-wide success and the East Asian Tigers before it, industrialization and integration into global value chains are seen as key to achieving success. to rapid economic growth – or restore it after the COVID-19 pandemic – and create large numbers of jobs for Africa’s young population.
Before the pandemic, African countries had already achieved some success in industrialization. Ethiopia has established an export-oriented clothing and footwear sector, with the help of Chinese and European investors. Tanzania has built a more resource-intensive manufacturing sector focused on serving national and regional markets. Recent research suggests that the premature deindustrialisation to which the continent was subjected may have been halted or even reversed after the early 2000s.
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