Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective

Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective

Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective

Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective

Synopsis

The end of the Cold War, the cessation of superpower rivalry, and the demise of apartheid in South Africa have offered Africans another opportunity to engage in effective institutional reform and state reconstruction. This book emphasizes the importance of institutions to economic growth and development and, using public choice theory, provides guidelines that can be used to initiate and implement an effective people-driven institutional reform program on the continent.

Excerpt

Gordon Tullock

It seems a little odd today, but as late as 1850 there was practically no significant European presence in Sub-Saharan Africa. There were a few settlements, mostly fortresses along the western coast of Africa. These had been set up primarily to service the slave trade. With the suppression of the slave trade around this time, many of these settlements lost most of their populations and became relatively insignificant. The Portuguese, the oldest colonial power in the region, had ownership and control of most of the strategic harbors along both the East and West coasts of Africa. In addition, Portuguese explorers had at this time, successfully managed to travel inland and away from the coast.

On the East coast, there were several Arab settlements, most of them based on the slave trade. Arabs, coming across the southern savanna, below the driest part of the Sahara, also had a few settlements which were mainly devoted to servicing the slave trade. There, however, was some marginal trade in gold in the area. The strongest permanent European presence in Africa at this time was in the southern part of the continent. In 1652 Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company (Vereenighde Oostindische Compagnie-VOC) established the first white settlement in what would become Cape Town. The VOC station provided supplies to ships sailing around the Cape on their way to the Far East.

Many European ships seemed to be more interested in sailing around Africa to the Far East than stopping in the continent for trade. Why did so few Europeans choose at this time to settle in the continent? I believe that the answer is fairly clear: Europeans found the health conditions, especially in the interior of the continent, quite difficult. Remember this quote:

Watch and Beware of the Bight of Benin
Where Few Come Out Though Many Go In.

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