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Journal of Economic Surveys

FINANCIAL LIBERALIZATION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA: WHAT DO WE KNOW?

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Abstract

Abstract Beginning from the early 1980s countries in Sub-Saharan Africa embarked on financial liberalization policies with a view to reversing the ill-effects of financial repression. This paper provides a survey of financial liberalization in Sub-Saharan African countries over the period 1980 to 2004. Our review of empirical studies showed that financial liberalization has had diverse and contrasting effects on savings, investment and economic growth. Most studies found a significant positive effect of financial liberalization on investment whereas its effect on savings has been largely insignificant. The evidence on the effect on economic growth is inconclusive as different studies find contrasting results. It is found that financial liberalization policies have not had the desired and expected results as both financial and macroeconomic variables have not improved following financial liberalization in these countries. This calls for a rethinking of financial liberalization in Sub-Saharan African countries. It is important that financial liberalization is carried out in a stable macroeconomic environment. In addition to this, there should be a building and reform of institutions and the strengthening of prudential regulation. Following this, financial liberalization can be embarked upon but it must be properly sequenced and not rushed.

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