Paul Collier provides a common sense explanation on the current African resurgence - we have been learning from our mistakes:
But the growth we are seeing today is not just a result of commodity booms. I don’t think that is the key to Kenya’s pre-election economic success. There is a process at work that does not depend on democracy and is so simple that analysts generally miss it: learning from mistakes. Since 1970 African societies have accumulated a huge stock of experience in how not to manage an economy. For example, from the mid-1970s until the mid-1980s Tanzania adopted regulatory policies that proved to be ruinous. The knowledge they gained through failure is valuable. Tanzania is now one of the best-managed of all Africa’s economies. The European society with the best record of containing inflation over the past sixty years is Germany. It has the best record because it used to have the worst: the experience of hyperinflation immunized Germans from macroeconomic folly.I would add that this has come after many failures by the World Bank and IMF. I hope we are not so much learning from history, but slowly developing the capacity to provide our own answers. That ultimately is what will see Africa advance going forward.
Learning from failure is an unglamorous and sometimes unpopular explanation for Africa’s improvement. But if it is right it has one hugely important and attractive implication: the improvement is robust. I am hopeful that the present commodity booms will be better handled than those of the 1970s, primarily because many Africans are fully aware of past mistakes and are determined not to repeat them.
View Collier's recent TED Talk to learn more about his thoughts on third world development.