It is widely believed that, by comparison with other developing regions, Africa's post-Independence development record has been one of failure. Part 1 below examines the evidence on this and the remainder of the paper is taken up with examining explanations of this record. Part II is centred around an econometric 'sources of growth' study, while Part III seeks to go beyond the econometrics to introduce a wider range of economic explanations, including the influence of incentive systems and state interventionism; the quality of macroeconomic management; and the effects of market failures. Parts IV and V enquire beyond the boundaries of economics into the influence of historical, political and institutional features, and Part VI offers a summary and conclusion. The coverage is confined to sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), excluding South Africa.