Technological capabilities are at the center of the new theories of economic growth which focus on technology and human capital as engines of growth. Recent developments in this literature suggest that long-run economic growth, as seen most recently in East Asia, reflects sustained increases in firm productivity stemming from the continuous accumulation of technological capabilities. The study, technological capabilities and learning in African enterprises, reports on one of the first systematic attempts to assess technological capabilities and firm productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The study utilizes primary data from two surveys of manufacturing firms in each of three representative countries, Ghana, Kenya and Zimbabwe, all countries currently undergoing extensive structural reforms. As a group, these countries span the diversity of per capita incomes and industrial development patterns of the Africa region. The study undertakes a comprehensive analysis of technological capabilities and manufacturing productivity in these countries, focusing on a number of broad issues related to the patterns and determinants of manufacturing productivity, the levels of endowment of technological capabilities, the specific nature of technological efforts being undertaken by manufacturing firms, and the constraints they face in enhancing such endeavors. The objective of the investigation is to gain a better understanding of the technological problems facing African enterprises, large and small, and to help the World Bank and other development agencies design more effective assistance programs to accelerate the supply response to policy reforms.
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