On each continent he traverses, Mills interrogates the how and why. How did Botswana go from being one of the least-developed and poorest nations at independence to enjoying the highest rate of per capita growth of any country in the world? Why has South Africa failed to attain similar heights? How did the Baltic states achieve reforms that have positioned them among the best-performing economies in Europe? How did Vietnam overcome a traumatic past in favour of a rapid and positive development transformation? Why is Mexico – despite what Donald Trump and Narcos may have you believe – the only large developing economy that competes with China in manufacturing?
Based on extensive interviews with current and former presidents, prime ministers and key government officials across the globe, as well as research from leading institutions like the World Bank, Freedom House, the Heritage Foundation, the IMF and the Brenthurst Foundation, Mills concludes that, while some states unlock reform, creating an environment where agility, dynamic change and a relentless desire for progress overwhelm political obstacles, others are stymied by vested interests and the inability to look beyond short-term gains for an elite. In the African context, a failure to reform, and to make better choices, explains the persistent continental default to economic, social and political crisis.
Yet the upside of getting things right is encouragingly positive. The examples of change in Rich State, Poor State contrast success and failure, and in so doing, determine a path for Africa’s next generation of reformers.