Release Date: 27 July, 2020

What drove Asia's economic success stories, and what should Africa emulate?

African policymakers have not been immune to the worldwide fascination with the “Asian miracle”. African leaders and officials have these past few years undertaken a constant stream of study visits to countries such as China, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam.

What lessons can African countries glean from Asia’s successes and failures? And how can they emulate those successes and avoid the mistakes made by their Asian peers? These are the two key questions the book The Asian Aspiration – Why and How Africa Should Emulate Asia seeks to answer. Co-authored by Greg Mills, Olusegun Obasanjo, Hailemariam Desalegn and Emily van der Merwe, the book is divided into two parts.

The first part showcases the “growth stories” of 10 East Asian and South-East Asian countries. They are Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, China and Vietnam. It analyses the developmental paths of these countries, pointing out what they did well to power their rise as well as their policy missteps. The second section discusses five lessons for success from Asia and illuminates these with comparative examples from both Asia and Africa.

The book notes the differences between Asia and Africa, and the importance of differentiation. But it concludes by asking what Lee Kuan Yew might have done had he found himself at the helm of Africa. Lee was the formidable statesman who presided over the change in Singapore’s fortunes from 1959 to 1990.

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Article by Prof Mills Soko