Academic journal article African Studies Review

Sustainable Development in Africa: A Multifaceted Challenge

Academic journal article African Studies Review

Sustainable Development in Africa: A Multifaceted Challenge

Article excerpt

ECONOMICS AND DEVELOPMENT Okechukwu Ukaga and Osita G. Afoaku, eds. Sustainable Development in Africa: A Multifaceted Challenge. Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 2005. 254 pp. List of Contributors. References. Index. $29.95. Paper.

By now it is pretty clear that hopes have been dashed for a continent in which economic growth, respect for human dignity, and sustainable development will take root. Instead of seeing prosperity rising from the ashes of its colonial past, Africa, unfortunately, remains a continent in which inhabitants are becoming poorer and sicker, and where mineral wealth has become a curse rather than a blessing. Since independence, many African nations have experimented with diverse approaches to economic development; they have failed because the experiments were mostly designed by experts who have never lived in or been to Africa and whose plans did not fit the circumstances in Africa.

Sustainable Development in Africa seeks not only to expose this sort of discrepancy, but also to argue that the key to improving the standard of living in Africa is sustainable development. Ukaga and Afoaku and their colleagues set out to demonstrate that sustainable development requires an appropriate system of evaluation that enables citizens to understand the situation in which they are operating, to figure out how to change the situation, to devise appropriate questions, and to find answers: "sustainable development is generally homegrown and not something that is readily or easily exported from one place to another" (1).

The book opens with Ukaga's introduction which oudines the argument and presents the structure of the volume. In the second chapter, Kwesi Kwa Prah explores the concept of indigenous development and identifies gaps in the current debate on sustainable development literature. He then offers a more holistic approach to underdevelopment problematics in Africa. In chapter 3, Afoaku argues that democracy is a prerequisite to sustainable development. He reviews current efforts at political reform on the continent and suggests ways to overcome the "fallacy of electoralism" in order to consolidate Africa's fledging democracies. John Mbaku's chapter 4 dissects public choice theory as a normative framework for sustainable development in Africa by uncovering the reasons behind the failure of the African state and calling for a state reconstruction through democracy in order to address Africa's political, economic, and social ills. …

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