Development Strategies in Africa: Current Economic, Socio-Political, and Institutional Trends and Issues

By Aguibou Y. Yansane | Go to book overview

4

Afrostroika and Planned Governance:
Economic Adjustment and Political
Engineering

ALI A. MAZRUI

A number of African civil wars appear to be coming to a close, or at least the conflicts are taking a new form. Fundamental political and constitutional changes are under way. The war in Eritrea lasted thirty years; the war in Angola over fifteen years. Fragmented Ethiopia, as a whole, is looking for a new constitutional order. So are Mozambique, Ghana, Liberia, and others. Are the 1990s also to be a decade of fundamental economic reform?

It was in his 1975 Tom Mboya Memorial Lecture in Kenya that Adebayo Adedeji described the idea of a national plan as one of the three symbols of postcolonial sovereignty in Africa. Almost every African country had adopted a national economic plan alongside a national flag and a national anthem. 1

Fifteen years later national economic plans in Africa had become an endangered species, partly in response to the declining role of the state in the 1980s. On the other hand, a new strategy of planning in Africa was emerging in countries such as Nigeria, national political planning. Although economic development almost everywhere was abandoning centrally controlled goals and targets, political reform in parts of Africa was now increasingly susceptible to central planning.

In Nigeria, economic planning has always been honored more in the breach than the observance. But in recent years, belief among some Nigerians in centrally planned political reform has reached new levels of earnestness. The year 1992 could have become at least as important for Nigeria politically as the same year is to Western Europe economically. Would there also have been any fundamental constitutional experiments in Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Angola, and elsewhere in 1992?

Let us look more closely at the dual process in Africa; the decline of central economic planning and the emergence of more serious political planning. What

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