The Political Economy of Africa

The Political Economy of Africa

The Political Economy of Africa

The Political Economy of Africa

Synopsis

The Political Economy of Africa addresses the real possibilities for African development in the coming decades when seen in the light of the continent's economic performance over the last half-century. This involves an effort to emancipate our thinking from the grip of western economic models that have often ignored Africa's diversity in their rush to peddle simple nostrums of dubious merit.

The book addresses the seemingly intractable economic problems of the African continent, and traces their origins. It also brings out the instances of successful economic change, and the possibilities for economic revival and renewal. As well as surveying the variety of contemporary situations, the text will provide readers with a firm grasp of the historical background to the topic. It explores issues such as:

  • employment and poverty
  • social policy and security
  • structural adjustment programs and neo-liberal globalization
  • majority rule and democratization
  • taxation and resource mobilization.

It contains a selection of country specific case studies from a range of international contributors, many of whom have lived and worked in Africa. The book will be of particular interest to higher level students in political economy, development studies, area studies (Africa) and economics in general.

Excerpt

The strategy of this book

Since the millennium, some observers have seen evidence of economic recovery in parts of Africa. This was fuelled partly by a rise in world prices for the continent’s minerals exports (see Freund below), partly by hot international money in the last years of the credit boom, partly by various endogenous developments. Thus in 2008 Angola had the highest annual growth rate in the world at 23 per cent, as a result of high oil prices, infrastructure reconstruction after three decades of civil war and the renewal of local enterprise. Some countries like Ghana seem to have embarked on a path of political democracy and economic growth, a factor in President Obama’s choice of that country to launch a new model of international partnership with Africa. East Africa is a world leader in low-cost computing and the use of mobile telephony for banking, commercial and administrative purposes. As we write, the global economic crisis is said to have snuffed out this precarious revival, with foreign investments drying up and commodity prices collapsed. But this judgment is premature.

This book stands back from such ephemeral journalistic perspectives to address the real possibilities for African development in the coming decades when seen in the light of the continent’s economic performance over the last half-century. This involves an effort to emancipate our thinking from the grip of western economic models that have often ignored Africa’s diversity in their rush to peddle simple nostrums of dubious merit. We look forward to a time when much of Africa recovers strongly from the setbacks of the immediate post-colonial period and when analysis of its economies will be more securely grounded in local conditions. Neither of these developments has yet occurred. So we introduce here a collection produced by scholars who mostly live and work in Africa, one which keeps an eye open for constructive developments, while surveying the variety of contemporary situations and giving readers a firm grasp of the historical background to our topic.

For two decades, the 1980s and 1990s, Africa seemed to many to have resumed its traditional place as a backward, poor and violent region with only weak connections to the rest of world society, ‘the dark continent’.

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