ABSTRACT: Africa is fully regaining its traditional role as a supplier of natural resources in the global production chain, with a growing role as a demand market for manufactured products produced elsewhere. South-South economic and political relationships, where China has a predominant role, represent a key distinctive feature to understand these recent changes. Against this background, the aim of the paper is twofold. First, the authors are interested in understanding the impact on Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) of the contemporary wave of the gobalization process, in terms of economic growth and in particular of human development. Second, they want to advance some policy suggestions that could allow African economies to translate these "new" opportunities into full improvements of human development. The paper is based on the one side on the analysis of the economic structure and the institutions that characterize SSA countries, and on the other on the human development and capability approach. According to our theoretical grounds and some tentative economic estimations, economic and human development in SSA cannot occur only through a sustained growth of GDP. Economic growth is definitely relevant, since it is one of the prongs meant to increase human development, but it also has to be shared by the sectors from which the poor draw most of their incomes. Public policies and investment in basic social services and in up-grading the informal and agricultural sectors are proposed in order to enhance the impact of current economic growth on social outcomes.