Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective

By John Mukum Mbaku; Gordon Tullock | Go to book overview

government does not interfere with rights of individuals to freely engage in exchange and contract, economic freedoms should be constitutionally guaranteed.


CONCLUSION

In this chapter we have provided guidelines for the construction of effective and viable laws and institutions to lead the African countries into the new century. In the 1960s, African countries had an opportunity to reconstruct the states they had inherited from the Europeans through a contractual change of rules. Unfortunately, Africans never used this opportunity effectively to select new political and economic institutions to promote growth and development and allow for peaceful coexistence. As a consequence, after more than thirty years of independence, most of the African peoples remain poor and severely deprived. In fact, Africa is today the poorest region of the world and the only one whose prospects for development look relatively bleak.

The end of the Cold War and the subsequent cessation of superpower rivalry, in addition to the demise of apartheid in South Africa, have provided the continent with another opportunity for institutional reform and state reconstruction. Africans can learn from the mistakes of the past and engage in the type of constitution making that will allow them to choose appropriate laws and institutions for their societies. This chapter has presented guidelines, based on public choice and constitutional economics, that can be used to design appropriate constitutional rules for the African countries. Basically, each country in the continent has to choose efficient and self-enforcing social contracts or constitutions and establish economic systems that maximize the participation of all citizens in national development. Unless this is accomplished the quality of life for Africans will continue to deteriorate.


NOTES
1.
This chapter draws significantly from Mbaku John M. 1995. "Preparing Africa for the twenty-first century: Lessons from constitutional economics". Constitutional Political Economy 6: 139-160. Material is used with permission from the publisher, Kluwer Academic Publishers.
2.
The opposition parties had called upon the government of Paul Biya to convene a national sovereign conference to establish political principles for the writing of the constitution. The president rejected the convening of such a conference on grounds that it was unconstitutional. Instead, he organized a "national" conference whose agenda would be controlled by him and his party and then invited members of opposition groups to participate. Since the president was unwilling to broaden the scope of the discussions and include issues important to the opposition, members of the latter boycotted the final phase of the conference. However, the conference appointed a committee to produce a draft constitution and present it to the nation for debate and eventual approval. The committee met only twice, with the last meeting taking place on January 11, 1992. However, on May 17, the committee's chairman presented to the nation's prime minister a draft constitution that he claimed had been written by the committee. Surprised and feeling betrayed, three members of the committee resigned and later told reporters that the document presented was the personal

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Institutions and Reform in Africa: The Public Choice Perspective
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Notes xv
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1 - General Introduction 1
  • 2 - The African Economies 19
  • Introduction 19
  • 3 - Changing Global Trade Patterns and Economic Dependence in Africa 33
  • Introduction 33
  • Conclusion 59
  • 4 - Public Choice and African Institutions 61
  • 5 - Origin of Inefficient Constitutional Rules 73
  • Introduction 73
  • 6 - Political Instability in Africa 91
  • Introduction 91
  • APPENDIX: REGRESSION ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL INSTABILITY AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN AFRICA 105
  • 7 - Bureaucratic and Political Corruption 111
  • 8 - Post-Constitutional Opportunism in Africa 139
  • Introduction 165
  • 9 167
  • 10 - Public Choice and Institutional Reform 177
  • 11 - Democratization Strategies for Africa 189
  • Introduction 189
  • 12 - Preparing Africa for the Twenty- First Century: Lessons from Public Choice 209
  • Introduction 209
  • Conclusion 230
  • Notes 230
  • 13 - Conclusions: Looking Forward to the Twenty-First Century 233
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 259
  • About the Author 283
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