Covid-19 has exacerbated economic and social vulnerabilities across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). There is a risk that growth could be lower for longer, with a setback to development. Post-pandemic reforms thus become even more important, especially with constrained scope for fiscal and monetary stimuli. Reforms could boost per capita growth by an additional 0.3-1.3 percentage points, relative to the 1.9 percent average since 2010. Such growth would reduce per capita income doubling time from 37 years to about 22 years. Low-income countries stand to gain the most from reforms. The largest gains come from governance, products markets, and factor accumulation. Importantly, these reforms can be implemented in the post-pandemic environment characterized by weaker social and distributional outcomes.
This paper analyzes the institutional conditions affecting the establishment and effectiveness of independent central banks and of budgetary institutions. It draws on the recent theory developed by North, Wallis and Weingast on the transition from a closed and fragile state to an open economic and political environment. The paper presents a composite indicator allowing for the identification of a country’s position along this transition path. The findings suggest that (i) while the establishment of autonomous central banks seems to be relatively independent from the broader institutional framework, sound budgetary institutions tend to be established in countries with higher levels of rule of law for the elites, and (ii) while central bank independence is effective in reducing inflation irrespective of a country’s position along the transition path, budget institutions seem to be most effective as a disciplining device in weak institutional environments.