Local Governance in Africa: The Challenges of Democratic Decentralization

Local Governance in Africa: The Challenges of Democratic Decentralization

Local Governance in Africa: The Challenges of Democratic Decentralization

Local Governance in Africa: The Challenges of Democratic Decentralization

Excerpt

In 1990 we published The Failure of the Centralized State: Institutions and Self-Governance in Africa. That book explored the centralizing patterns and dynamics of African states since independence. It argued that these led to ineffective, corrupt, and sometimes abusive governance. It also argued that decentralization in a number of forms was required to move beyond these ineffective and at times collapsed states. This would include decentralizing political power to the grassroots through democratic reform at the center, through the privatization of state-owned enterprises, through reestablishment (or establishment) of effective local governance, and through the empowerment of the people and local civic organizations.

Many African countries, under prodding from their own people and international organizations, have initiated new programs and policies of decentralization since the publication of that earlier book. These efforts have coincided with the wave of liberal political and economic governance reforms that have swept through the continent since the late 1980s. Much has been written on democracy and privatization in Africa in the last fifteen years, but little has been published taking an overview of the evolution of local governance during this time. This book is an attempt to fill that gap. It offers information regarding several important and theoretically provocative country cases, as well as two frameworks to try to make sense of what has happened. One framework explores what seems necessary for self-governance to emerge at localities (locallevel prerequisites for local governance). The second explores the contextual and prior factors (intervening variables) that affect the presence of the prerequisite variables. While these are preliminary models, we believe they are helpful in integrating and interpreting what is occurring in Africa regarding local governance.

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