This essay investigates the determinants of the growth performance of Africa. It starts by illustrating a broader research agenda which accounts not only for basic economic and demographic factors, but also for the role of history and institutional development. After reporting results from standard growth regressions, the author analyzes the role of Africa’s peculiar history, which has been marked by its colonization experience. Next the author discusses the potential growth impact of state fragility, a concept which reflects multiple facets of the dysfunctions that plague the continent. The last topic addressed in this essay is the influence, in and out of Africa, of the slave trades. The essay ends with critical conclusions and suggestions for further research.