Week 4:

The Cheetah generation comes from the Ghanian scholar George Ayittey, describing a new generation of leaders and entrepreneurs, throughout Africa, rising to the top of government bureaucracies, civil society organizations, and businesses.

“Big Man” or the hippo generation is the era of Africa, at its height in the mid-1980, in which almost every sub-Saharan African country was rules by a dictator.

In the hippo generation, democracy was very rare; few countries met minimum standards for democracies measured by sources such as, Freedom House’s Freedom in the World index and George Mason University/ University of Maryland Polity IV Index of Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions. In the absence of competitive and accountable political systems, authoritarian governments had little need to implement policies that would be benefit the majority of citizens.  The cheetah generation does not relate to the old, slow-moving hippo generation; they are an emerging class of entrepreneurs and leaders focused on transparency, accountability, good governance, respect for human rights, and private sector economic opportunities.  The cheetah generation also have an improved relationship with NGOs, donors, and other supporters.

Women, in the cheetah generation, have been moving up into higher-profile private and public positions.  As Radelet explains:

Shifting gender paradigms have played a crucial role in defining the cheetah generation; an increased focus on women and girls has created the opportunity for women to enter into traditionally “masculine” roles and jobs.  The education and professionalization of women adds a whole new dimension to the available skilled workforce, doubling Africa’s human capital potential.

One problem plaguing development in emerging countries is the growth of household income in the poorest places.  The family’s income per capita can increase by four ways: saving, trade, technology, and resource boom.  The problem as Sachs explains, in general economics, most or all four of the listed ways need to happen simultaneously.

Geography also plays a major issue plaguing many countries including physical geography and geopolitics.  Many of the world’s poorest countries are land-locked, suffering from high transportation cost or in arid conditions with low agricultural output.  Trade barriers, as a result of geopolitics can plague developing countries as well.

The diagnostic checklist that Sach proposes is a seven-part diagnostic checklist that should be part of the “physical exam” of any country.  The seven part checklist includes:

  • Poverty Trap
  • Economic Policy Framework,
  • Fiscal Framework and Fiscal Trap,
  • Physical Geography,
  • Governance Patterns and Failures,
  • Cultural Barriers, and
  • Geopolitics

Lesotho Case Study

Poverty Mapping

Lesotho is a small, mountainous, and completely landlocked by South Africa.  The labor force by occupation:

  • Agriculture – 86%*
  • Industry and Services – 14%
    • Most the population engages in subsistence agriculture

Lesotho also has 27.6% of the total population living in urban areas with 93.2% of the population having improved access to a drinking water source, as compared to 76.7% of the rural population. Zambia has 39.2% of the total population living in an urban area, with 84 % of the urban population having an improve drinking water source compared to just 49.2% of the rural population.  85% of the workforce is in agriculture.

Physical Geography

Lesotho has about 30,355 sq km of total area, with 0 km of coastline.  It is roughly the size of Maryland; 10.14% of the land is arable.  Zambia has 752,618 sq km of total land and is comparable to the size of Texas.  It has 0 km of coastline, same as Lesotho, making it a landlocked country. 4.52% of the land is arable.


South Africa has placed military units to assist in police operations along the border of Lesotho.  This is in effort to control trafficking in persons, in which Lesotho is on the Tier 2 Watch list according to the CIA World Fact Book.  Zambia has, as of 2013, 16,684 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  It is also a transshipment point for moderate amount drugs bound for South Africa or Europe from intelligence gathered by the CIA World Fact Book.


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