PUBlic Professor Series | Dr. Alexander Darku

The Building Blocks of Africa's Development: Resources, Politics, and Economics

Dr. Alexander Darku, Department of Economics

The African development efforts have gone through sharp turns and twists since the dawn of independence in the late 1950s. In this presentation, I critically analyze the factors that have driven Africa’s growth and development through its resources, political, and economic building blocks in three different periods.

The first period (1957-1965) marks the early sweep of independence and the ascendency to political leadership of nationalistic figures (the great enthusiasm and foundation era). This period witnessed the call for the formation of the “United States of Africa” and the experimentation of “Scientific Socialism” for nation building.

The second period (1966-early 1980s) witnessed the second wave of independence and the emergence of military coup d’état to depose the nationalistic leaders who supposedly had become power drunk and destructive to nation building efforts (the transition and derailment of nation building era). More socialism styled nation building policies and programs were implemented. Corruption as we know of today in Africa emerged from this era, as politics became the shortest and better way of amassing personal wealth. There was also explosive growth in external debt of many African countries due to the OPEC oil price hikes.

The third period (early 1980s-present) is the policy and program realignment era, where the IMF and the World Bank took center stage of economic policy formulation and implementation through the Stabilization and Structural Adjustment Programs. These programs later morphed into External Debts and Poverty Reduction Programs that engendered more corruption without any significant nation building efforts (the schizophrenic era).

Lessons from these analyses point to the reorientation of the incentive structures for politicians, business elites and the electorates, as the critical pillars for the building blocks of Africa’s development.

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