This essay investigates the determinants of the growth performance of Africa. I start 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, I analyze the role of Africa’s peculiar history, which has been marked by its colonization experience. Next I discuss the potential growth impact of state fragility, a concept which reflects multiple facets of the dysfunctions that plague the continent. The last topic I address is the influence, in and out of Africa, of the slave trades. The essay ends with critical conclusions and suggestions for further research.