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Governance and the Supply of Public Services (GSPS)

Advancing Developmental Governance and Inclusive Growth

Richard Joseph


At the dawn of the 21st century, a leading scholar of Africa’s political economy wrote: “the failure to accelerate economic growth, despite two decades of ‘unprecedented aid flows’, is largely attributable to governance and institutional deficiencies. Key institutions in every sector – health, transportation, education, public utilities – continue to be eroded from within.”[1] On the eve of the third decade of the century, despite the renewal of economic growth, poverty has persisted and social distress risen. The main reason for this discordance? The same underlying factor: erosion of key institutions in many sectors.


Bill and Melinda Gates, in an opinion piece published in September 2018, discussed this global pattern: persistent poverty despite economic growth. Among the reasons for this pattern they suggest, echoing Van de Walle, are “weak governance and broken health and education systems”. To emphasize the seriousness of the problem, they write: “By 2050, more than 40 percent of the extremely poor people on the planet are projected to live in just two countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria”.[2] It can be pondered: When the 52 other African countries are added, what percentage of global poverty at mid-century would be accounted for by the continent?


The subtitle of the Gates’ article was: “What’s about to change?” A year later, we know the answer. Societies are fracturing between, on the one hand, individuals and families whose financial situation is precarious and, on the other, those who are secure and have benefited from renewed economic growth.[3] The African Development Bank is uniquely placed to help design, and implement, new approaches to these profound challenges. Most aid, finance, and development organizations now include a governance strategy in their mission statements. In the case of the AfDB, its Strategy on Economic Governance in Africa draws on lessons learned from two prior strategies and input from many researchers and practitioners.


Advancing developmental governance should feature prominently in government reform efforts. Without it, inclusive growth will remain elusive. We know what bad governance, or misgovernance, looks like, and are aware of its deleterious consequences. The alternative is developmental governance, understood as the management of public and private institutions to increase sustainably the supply of desired goods and services. Inclusive growth, on the other hand, is economic expansion that allows for wider societal participation, and the equitable sharing of output in the form of jobs, income, and other benefits. The two phenomena are sides of the same coin.


Many basic goods and services - water, electricity, sanitation, health care, education, and transport - are often inadequately supplied in most African countries. There is a sense of urgency regarding these inequities. Anger is expressed in sharp criticism of governments, political parties, and political elites for corruption and self-enrichment while they fail to meet the basic needs of citizens.


In my keynote address to the African Economic Conference in Addis Ababa in November 2017, “Governance for Structural Transformation: Challenges and Opportunities”, I proposed the creation of a Network for the Study of Governance and Development (NSGD).[4]Such a Network exists informally among scholars of Africa. It can now be given a suitable institutional form, and provided the requisite financial and other support. The proposed name for this project is Governance and the Supply of Public Services (GSPS).[5]


I. Environment


Concerns about the environment are mounting globally as a consequence of global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change identified the third decade of the 21st century as the last opportunity for the global community to avoid irreversible damage to the earth’s ecology. Africa, in view of its large geographical size, and a highly varied topography from tropical forest to savannah to desert, has much to contribute to, and benefit from, effective environmental strategies. Collaborative policy action across regional, national, ethnic and other boundaries is essential. Such policy action is highly dependent, however, on the strengthening of appropriate institutions in Africa and the mobilization of a wide array of civil society and corporate actors.


In Africa, extreme weather events are increasing in frequency, from droughts to heavy rains and flooding.[6]Herders are obliged by climate change to forage wider to feed their herds. Meanwhile, the production of food crops is adversely impacted. As a consequence, violent conflicts erupt between farmers and herders often heightening ethnic and religious tensions. Rapid urbanization is another phenomenon observed across the continent. Appropriate land and housing policies are needed to strengthen resiliency and minimize the risks posed by warming oceans and other hazards.


In Africa, proper stewardship of the environment requires developmental governance. It is a sphere in which partnerships can be established with authorities worldwide who are also struggling to get ahead of “climate havoc”.[7]Accelerated deforestation in the Amazon Basin is a cautionary tale for Africa where substantial but precarious forest reserves exist.


II. Participation and Accountability


The AfDB advocates a people-oriented and participatory approach to governance, which implies the enhancement of citizenship. All citizens and institutions, it contends, should be encouraged to participate in their own governance, make legitimate demands, and monitor government actions. Such steps would ensure that governments provide, in a sustainable way, adequate public goods and services.[8]The global social protests of 2019, as mentioned above, were triggered by angry reactions to electricity shortages, increased fees for transport (although services may be deficient), fuel, and other policy changes often caused by government budget deficits.


Peter Achar suggests that developmental governance is linked to “the realization of socio-economic rights”.[9] Citizens worldwide are asserting what they regard as fundamental socio-economic rights. Their active participation in public life, according to Achar, is essential for ensuring accountability in budget matters. In Kenya, he reports, an innovative Citizen Accountability Audit Framework can make the auditing of budget expenditures more user-friendly and also improve the management of public resources. Another colleague, Brahima Coulibaly, emphasizes the strengthening of civil society to hold governments accountable. An informed and active citizenry is essential, he contends, for combating corruption and illicit financial flows. The reassertion of citizenship, and collective action to hold governments accountable for ensuring basic goods and services, should be a priority of the AfDB’s New Governance Strategy.


III. States and Communities


The state can be a central agent of growth and development (“developmental state”). It can also be a “facilitative state”, focusing on specific policy areas for direct involvement while promoting agency by other actors.[10]Or it can settle for being a “night-watchman” state, ensuring physical security but not much else. In many poor countries, the state can even be largely “absent” as concerns the provision of public services.[11] A more effective, responsive, and legitimate state was a cross-cutting theme of the popular upheavals of 2019.[12]


Sober reconsiderations are underway regarding state and community in Africa. Rotimi Suberu, one of Africa’s leading political analysts, comments: “the more I reflect on hjjNigeria's current predicament (a relapse into electoral chicanery, pervasive violent insecurity, failures of anti-corruption reform, growing inter-group polarization, and generally abysmal governance), the more I am inclined to pinpoint the centrality of the national/ethnic question (or the "ethnic trap," to use a concept in one of your essays).[13]In other words, at the heart of the Nigerian developmental tragedy is the absence of anything close to a national, cross-ethnic, consensus on a governance framework and constitutional architecture for development.” [14]


To sidestep this dilemma, according to William Miles, a shift is occurring in some policy circles to “emphasizing local governance as the pathway to development. Conventional reliance on central, national governance as the repository for developmentally-directed aid is giving way to the realization that a trickle-down approach has not proven effective. How to strengthen governance in municipalities, not ministries, is a compelling challenge that citizens outside of African capitals can more easily relate to.” This comment echoes the AfDB regarding the “insufficient prioritization of subnational governments in economic management and governance.” However, as appealing as this policy shift might sounds, it has proven difficult to implement in practice.


Moses Khisa, Ugandan scholar, is skeptical about shifting emphasis to local solutions in what are globalizing contexts. The world increasingly functions, according to Khisa, on scales beyond a single town, a single city, and a single region. Moreover, financial transactions on behalf of nations are often conducted by individuals who are themselves enmeshed in a “political marketplace” of monetized patronage. Drawing on the writings of Alex de Waal, Khisa identifies three components of this “marketplace”: inter-personal political bargaining, pervasive rent-seeking, and integration into a global patronage system. How can governance that serves the wider public interest be exercised in such contexts? This is a key issue for researchers and policy practitioners seeking to advance developmental governance and inclusive growth. Khisa asks, pertinently: “How do citizens of African countries ensure that agreements signed for China’s Belt & Road Initiative, and commodity-backed loans, will generate long-term public benefits? How do local communities weigh in on these transactions [given the rent-seeking priorities of political elites], and how can public interests be balanced across entire countries?” These are pressing, and perplexing questions, to be discussed. One forum in which they will be explored is the proposed GSPS project.


Elite bargains and monetary transactions can, to sum up, undermine viable state-building. This is a paradox that has perplexed African countries throughout the post-colonial era. How can governance be developmental if the prime motivation of political actors is the capture and exchange of rents? For Khisa, South Sudan exemplifies today the inability of “a weak state system to rein in rentier actors and violent entrepreneurs”.[15]His comments echo Hafsat Abiola’s insightful remark about her country, Nigeria: “politics crowd out good governance”.


IV. Access to Knowledge


In an address to celebrate Ghana’s 50th anniversary in 2007, sponsored by the Center for Democratic Development (CDD) in Accra, the question of developmental learning was raised.[16]Africans who migrate to western countries, are often high performers. They imbibe new skills and uphold the organizational norms of their host countries. Simultaneously, they draw on social and cultural resources that have been kept vibrant in their diaspora communities.


Waves of new thinking on knowledge-building and transmission are emerging among African scholars and analysts. Renewed attention is being paid to closing the gap between abundant archives and library holdings abroad and their paucity, and even erosion, in the continent. Knowledge-building and sharing depend on, and also contribute to, developmental governance. Mathew Page has succinctly described the relevant challenges and opportunities. There should be, he says, a greater commitment to “deepening ties between African and non-African institutions and making them more seamless and routine.” Such an effort involves investing resources in digitizing and providing “open access to archival holdings, creating relationships with African institutions, prioritizing partnerships and academic exchanges”. Page concludes: “harnessing academic institutions own resources and pushing for a conceptual change in change in how they operate could yield huge long-term dividends." He has fluently expressed the essence of Access to Knowledge.[17]


A number of African scholars are challenging what Khisa calls “the geopolitics of knowledge production and the Euro-American epistemological hegemony. Researching and writing about Africa have largely proceeded through Eurocentric lenses”. There are important strands of thinking to be brought together in pursuing such a strategy. The goal of “building knowledge in Africa about Africa”, for example, using Samuel Oloruntoba’s formulation, involves tapping into knowledge systems that are compartmentalized (often linguistically) in Africa.[18] Networks of African thought leaders, inspired by leading scholars such as Achille Mbembe and Souleymane Bachir Diagne, are seeking ways to address policy concerns without first filtering their ideas through external circuits.


V. Nigeria’s Governance and Development Impasse


Nigeria has been the site of sustained, and often intense, debates on governance and development. With a population now estimated to be over 200 million, it is not only the most populous country in the continent – having almost twice the population of the next largest, Ethiopia – it also has the largest economy and the most extensive range of state and private institutions. Yet the gap between its economic potential and the actual welfare and security of its people grows ever wider. The unremitting rise in poverty, crime, and violent conflict has provoked disillusionment. A sense of despair and even foreboding is now manifested in commentaries and actions by prominent Nigerians.[19]


It is not unusual to read commentaries such as the following:


Security issues have intensified in Nigeria, from periodic insurgents’ onslaughts and farmers-herders lethal clashes to unending inter-communal conflicts. As seen in the recent surge in kidnapping for ransom, human trafficking, cultism, violent robberies, Nigeria’s security woes seem endless. The 2019 report of the Global Terrorism Index ranks Nigeria third among 163 countries…It reveals that Nigeria accounted for 13 percent of all terrorism-related deaths globally in 2018…Banditry has plagued most parts of the northwest and extensively in the north-central region…With about 330 attacks, bandits killed over 1400 people in the first seven months of 2019…interstate highways have become havens for kidnapping gangs.[20]


The distinguished historian Professor Toyin Falola took up these concerns in the second annual governance lecture at Nigeria’s Olabisi Onabanjo University on July 8, 2019. Falola began by citing excerpts from the widely-read newspaper column of Professor Ayo Olukotun who holds the Oba (Dr) Sikiru Adetona Chair of Governance at the same university: [21]


…the need for clear governance ideas that will jumpstart sustainable development and reset the political arena;

…the declining quality of lives…erratic and poor service delivery in virtually every department of social and economic endeavor;

… the deplorable state of the healthcare system, political inefficiency, and the degrading standard of education and level of security;

... the sad disconnect between policy discourse and problem-solving policy actions.


Falola agrees with Olukotun that emphasis should be placed on “the general welfare of the masses… those who bear the brunt of weak and inefficient governance in the affairs of the nation.” He ended his lecture with proposals for remedial action. Four themes, germane to this exercise, can be extracted from his presentation: the poverty trap, privilege and power, the cycle of corruption, and environment and sanitation.


The Poverty Trap


In June 2018, the World Poverty Clock reported that Nigeria is the most poverty-ridden country in the world with an estimated 87 million people living in poverty. This means that almost a half of the country’s citizens are impoverished. This figure surpasses India which has a population seven times greater. Moreover, according to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, the percentage of the population classified as “extremely poor” has steadily increased: 6.2% in 1980, 12.1% in1985, 22.0% in 2004, and 38.7% in 2010.


Privilege and Power


Elite behavior is similar in the public and private spheres: money is to be made as fast as possible and used to support aristocratic life styles. Power, once acquired, is not utilized to advance the public good but to elevate the fortunes of power holders. The reality is that oil revenue is given directly to a select few – the elites in the government – who will do anything to retain their power. The assumption in democracy is that politics will deliver public goods. The people, however, are not deceived as they expect politicians to break their promises.


The Cycle of Corruption


Societies contribute to corruption as well as people in government. There will always be corruption in Nigeria, not just because of corrupt elites or western donors, but also because of the Nigerian people themselves. They view corruption as an unfortunate means to a moral [distributional] end. There has been a rapid growth in the number of NGOs, fueled by external support, and which purport to serve the public interest. This support grew significantly to combat the spread of HIV and AIDS. A number of NGOs, however, are fraudulent and rampant with corruption.


Environment & Sanitation


Nigeria is confronted by major environmental challenges. Government responses have tended to compound the problem. Under the guise of serving the common good, “public service” projects are launched. These often turn out to be “useless” and “really nothing more than chances for those in power to bribe contractors.”


Even though there are state and federal ministries of environment, the government has established an additional entity: the Federal Disaster Relief and Protection Agency. This agency was supposedly created to respond to natural disasters. However, yet another entity was set up - the Ecological Fund – all to no avail.


A vicious cycle is created in which poor persons seek to extract more from the environment – for example, through bush burning, illicit logging, and mining – but their economic welfare is harmed by further environmental decay. The Niger Delta has been the site of multiple and compounding environmental disasters.


Inadequate access to clean water contributes to health epidemics. The management of waste in municipal areas is virtually nonexistent. In the rapidly growing capital of Abuja, for instance, there is no official recycling system. In much of the country, people either burn or dump their waste. Falola argues that environmental pollution and inadequate sanitation reflect profound deficiencies in governance. These failures undermine the quality of life of all Nigerians, and especially low-income earners and the poor.


Developmental Governance in Africa: Overcoming Discordant Development


As mentioned above, Prof. Ayo Olukotun called attention to “the sad disconnect between policy discourse and problem-solving policy actions”. He recently urged: “We must build a policy community with scholars, academics and strategic thinkers, interfacing with policy makers and security officialdom.” I made a similar suggestion in a prominently-published article sixteen years ago: “Facing Africa’s Predicament: Academe Needs to Play a Stronger Role”.[22] How, I asked at that time, can a revolutionary transformation in African governance be effected that would build complexes of institutions, from local to national levels, that operate efficiently and synergistically? In the coming decade, effective answer must be found or the consequences for life and security in much of the continent will be increasingly hazardous.


Goran Hyden’s book, No Shortcuts to Progress: African Development Management in Perspective, was published in 1983.[23]It included bold and provocative ideas regarding the developmental impasse in Africa. That same year, my article, “State, Class, and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria”, appeared.[24]My experiences in Africa, as Hyden’s, forced me to rethink basic notions about Africa’s political economy and political sociology. The arguments in these and similar works have been carried forward by other scholars.[25]Developmental governance and inclusive growth must now be brought to the forefront of thought, analysis, policy deliberations and action. What commitments should be included in new governance strategies?


i. Common Ground

Rotimi Suberu’s remark quoted earlier applies beyond Nigeria in Africa. The fundamental challenge is achieving “a national, cross-ethnic, consensus on a governance framework and constitutional architecture for development”. In the midst of the severe electoral crisis in Ghana in December 1992, as the Coordinator of a joint Electoral Observation Team, I wrote an essay calling for the pursuit of “Common Ground” among the contesting political parties. This common ground was the unity, security, and democratic progress of the Ghanaian nation and people.

Participants in the 2019 global social protests are noticeably calling for “a national, cross-ethnic consensus.” This vision has been reflected in the declarations of Mr. Abiy Ahmed since he became Prime Minister of Ethiopia in April 2018. He advocates medemer- translated as “being added to one another” - the gains from acting across ethnic, language, religious, and sub-national boundaries. Such an approach he described as necessary to avoid further fragmentation of the Ethiopian nation.[26]


ii. Lessons Learned

In the three decades that have elapsed since the inauguration of the African Governance Program of The Carter Center in 1988-89, much as been attempted, and much learned, regarding developmental and non-developmental governance. This learning must be aggregated and distilled. Efforts have been started to begin doing so, notably on the websites AfricaPlus and Arch Library. This exercise should be conducted more systematically and with greater resources.[27]


iii. Institutional Linkages

As quoted above, Matthew Page made a strong case for accelerating institutional linkages with and within Africa. The continent is replete with organizations - such as NexTier in Nigeria whose commentary was cited above - that straddle the academic and policy divide. The universe of such centers includes the AfDB, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) of The Brookings Institution, Kellogg Institute for International Studies at Notre Dame University, Institute for Successful Societies (ISS) at Princeton University, the Pearson Institute of the University of Chicago, National Resources Governance Institute (NRGI), Ostrom Workshop of Indiana University, the Design School of Stanford University, Pardee School of Global Studies of Boston University, Shehu Yar’Adua Foundation in Abuja, Nigeria, Quality of Government Institute (QOG) of the University of Gothenburg. Sweden, and several units of my university, Northwestern.[28]These centers possess an abundance of intellectual resources that can be tapped to advance developmental governance. To these can be added several other research and policy centers, notably in Europe and Asia.


iv. Popular Empowerment[29]

Toyin Falola describes how power and privilege have congealed in Africa, and how the poor become ensnared in practices that undermine their welfare and security. In my keynote address at the inauguration of the Institute for the Study of Government and Public Policy (ISGPP) in Ibadan, Nigeria, I discussed the building of Social Wealth. Elites can usually find ways to acquire and protect family wealth. The growth of extreme poverty, however, will not be reversed without substantial attention paid to building public institutions and services. Scholars, such as Lauren MacLean of Indiana University and Erin McDonnell of the University of Notre Dame, are conducting pioneering research on how these concerns are reflected in the political process. In the proposed GSPS,such research will be further encouraged and the insights acquired made available in academic and policy papers.[30]


v. Collaborative Learning

A Collaborative Learning Initiative on Governance and Development (CLI) has been explored with student-researchers at Northwestern University.[31]This embryonic project can be expanded. An approach to policy-relevant and immersive learning through the use of archival documents, online consultations with country experts, and recorded interviews on peace and democracy initiatives, has complemented classroom instruction. Such innovations can be incorporated in the institutional linkages recommended by Mathew Page.[32]According to Richard DeMillo, as innovations in communication accelerates, “higher education won’t look the same.”[33]What really matters, he says, will increasingly take place outside formal instruction “in the learning community”.[34]African countries can leapfrog many educational constraints via the creation of transnational learning communities.


vi. Facilitating Open Access

There has been a movement, strongly endorsed by President Emmanuel Macron of France, advocating the return to Africa of works of art held in overseas museums and private collections. Equally significant, but the subject of much less attention, is the great disparity in archival and library collections regarding Africa. Universities and philanthropic foundations are designing initiatives to address this challenge. It is axiomatic that Access to Knowledge is critical for development.[35]This is an area in which the AfDB can further demonstrate its commitment to be “a knowledge broker and resource for thought leadership, while also supporting communities of practices for peer learning and sharing experiences across Africa”.


vii. Incentivizing Developmental Governance

How, in the context of what Bo Rothstein calls “severely corrupt environments”, can developmental governance be fostered? Corrupt practices, as Toyin Falola observes, can become so embedded in societies that structural transformations in productive sectors are impeded. This challenge is particularly pertinent to the AfDB’s Strategy on Economic Governance in Africa, 2019-2023. Reward systems, including but not limited to financial emoluments, can have a significant impact. Much can be contributed by the arts and other forms of communication which influence awareness and behavior in culturally appropriate ways.


viii. Promoting Integrity

It is widely acknowledged how difficult it is to reduce corruption and illegal financial flows. The search for innovative strategies to tackle these issues must be sustained.[36]It can be conceptualized under the rubric, “Integrity”. “Corruption pushing Nigeria towards destruction” blared the headline of an article summarizing the gist of Prof. Falola’s July 8 governance lecture.[37]An investigation of political corruption in South Africa is referred to as the commission on “state capture”, a term commonly used to refer to systemic political corruption. At the highest levels in Africa and globally, greater frankness and urgency are being shown. Both the African Union and the UN General Assembly conducted special sessions on corruption in 2018.


Building on these developments, a broad societal movement can be envisaged. Transnational financial institutions, such as the AfDB, would be constrained by their statutes from assuming a lead role. However, civic, professional, academic, religious, and other associational entities are not so hindered. An African Integrity Movement could mobilize cultural, political, religious and other forces seeking to reduce “authority stealing” in African public life.[38]


ix. Prioritizing Environment

The environment is a dimension in which African countries can move to the forefront of global attention and rally citizens across social and ethnic divisions. “Nowhere to Run”, a film produced by the Shehu Yar’Adua Center in Abuja with the support of the MacArthur Foundation, demonstrates the immense challenges posed by environmental degradation. A sequel, to be available in 2020, will focus on food and climate change.[39]Similar documentaries can be made on other countries and regions. Global warming and rising sea temperatures are threats that render more arduous the struggle to reduce extreme poverty. “Social environmentalism” is an approach worth exploring to engage diverse African communities and stimulate innovative governance strategies.[40]


x. Building Enterprise Societies

A decade or more ago, as the Global Economy and Development program of The Brookings Institution sought to increase its work on Africa, I proposed a project entitled “Accelerating the Creation of Enterprise Societies” or ACCESS. The Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) was subsequently established and has been ably led by three successive directors and their associates.[41]The ACCESS proposal can be resurrected. It was based on the realization that, following major policy swings in the aid donor community, the moment had arrived to foster African versions of the dynamic “enterprise societies” evident in such counties as Vietnam.


These ideas can be revisited and updated. Much has been learned in the ensuing period about economic growth, market-promoting strategies, and discordant development. In the third decade of the 21st century, it is essential to connect African entrepreneurship (broadly understood), burgeoning opportunities in the global economy, and developmental governance. The 2019 global social protest have highlighted the failure of neo-liberal economic strategies, unbalanced by increased social protection, to generate inclusive development.



Developmental Governance was an explicit commitment of the struggle to end colonialism, and also apartheid and other monopolizing forms of power. It was assumed that political freedom and autonomy would be accompanied by the improved management of public resources for the benefit of African societies. Although this commitment has subsequently been affirmed in many official documents, it has often not been realized in practice. The AfDB should make closing this gap a major priority.

A document entitled, “Smart Aid for Africa”, issued following a conference a Northwestern University on May 12-14, 2005, listed as the first concern: “Improving Governance and Building Strong Institutions”.[42]A concluding sentence of the statement reads: “The majority of conference participants encourage the pursuit of innovative ways to stimulate virtuous cycles of improved governance and institution building that can steadily replace the vicious cycles of misrule and institutional decay.

During the subsequent decade and a half, “improved governance and institution building” have not replaced “misrule and institutional decay”. The GSPS, with the support of the AfDB and other partners, can help reverse this record. It would involve harnessing the resources mentioned above to incentivize a new generation of scholars and policy practitioners, and tap the knowledge lodged in archives, publications, and in the minds of many analysts. It would seek to build a learning community on developmental governance.

Moreover, there is a need to prioritize, as both Professors Olukotun and Falola have emphasized, “the general welfare of the masses… those who bear the brunt of weak and inefficient governance.” This determination moved in 2019 from academic and policy circles to the streets of major cities worldwide. Advancing the public welfare will require strong, efficient, responsive, and sustainable institutions. The AfDB, in its Strategy on Economic Governance in Africa, 2019-2023, has a unique opportunity to help mobilize the intellectual and material resources to meet this urgent challenge of our era.







[1] Nicholas van de Walle, African Economies and the Politics of Permanent Crisis, 1979-1999 (Cambridge University Press, 2001).

[2] “We were making headway on global poverty: What’s about to change?”

[3] I discussed this trend several years ago in “Discordant Development and Insecurity in Africa,”

[4] file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/raj172/My%20Documents/Downloads/Governance_for_Structural_Transformation_in_Africa__Leadership_and_Parnership_Opportunities.pdf

[5]Following a workshop on “Multidisciplinary Approaches to Corruption”, at the Kellogg Institute of the University of Notre Dame, October 16-17, an exchange ensued with participants who shared an interest in governance, institutions, and public services. This conversation will continue with other colleagues. A roundtable to discuss this incipient project will be convened in 2020.

[6] Most recently in East Africa and particularly Kenya and the DRC

[7] Anne Barnard, “Flooding Offers a Preview of Future Climate Havoc”, The New York Times, July 23, 2019.

[8] Drawn from the concept note for the Strategy on Economic Governance in Africa (SEGA).

[9] Personal correspondence.

[10]Writings on the developmental state, usually associated with East Asian countries such as Singapore, Taiwan, and South Korea during earlier periods, are widely available. For this exercise, Salih Noor submitted reflections on the problematic implementation of developmental state precepts in Africa. On the facilitative state, see Justin Yifu Lin, The Quest for Prosperity: How Developing Economies Can Take Off (Princeton University Press, 2012).

[11] This term, familiar to students of Africa, was used to describe a drug- and gang- riddled Argentinian slum, Puerta de Hierro. See The Financial Times, 27 June 2019, p. 7. This phenomenon was poignantly evoked by Biodun Jeyifo in Against the Predators’ Republic: Political and Cultural Journalism (Carolina Academic Press, 2018.)

[12] The state as a “complex of institutions”, in the words of Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol, helps us move away from the abstract notions. It also facilitate the importance, following the opening quote from Van de Walle, to tackle institutional deficiencies in key sectors of governmental

[13] “The Ethnic Trap: Notes on the Nigerian Campaign and Elections, 1978-79”, Issue: Quarterly Journal of Opinion(African Studies Association), spring/summer, 1981, pp.17-23. Available at

[14] Italics added.

[15] For probing reports on South Sudan by the Enoughproject led by John Prendergast and actor George Clooney, see

[16] “Ghana and Democratic Development in Africa: Back to the Future?” Kronti ne Akwamu lecture series no. 3, Center for Democratic Development, Accra, January 25, 2007.

[17] Also to be explored is a distance learning component.k

[18] This latter point has been cogently made by Fallou Ngom, Director of the African Studies Program, Boston University.

[19] The detention of Omoleye Sowore since August 2019 for calling on Nigerians to conduct “Days of Rage” against government policies on electricity charges, electoral misconduct, and other issues, touches on the concerns discussed here. Sowore, founder of Sahara Reporters, was a student activist at the University of Lagos in the early 1990s. He attempted a race for Nigerian president in the 2019 elections.

[20]“Endless Woes,” NexTier, November 25, 2019.

[21] These are published in The Punch, the newspaper with the widest circulation in Nigeria. They are also available online.


[23] By the University of California Press.

[24] In the Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics. This special issue of the journal, edited by Nelson M. Kasfir, was also published as a book, State and Class in Africa (Routledge, 1984).

[25] For example, see Wale Adebanwi and Ebenezer Obadare, Democracy and Prebendalism in Nigeria: Critical Interpretations(Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

[26] There are parallels with the Aspen Institute’s “Weave: The Social Fabric Project”. Also pertinent are my remarks at a Dialogue on Nation-Building in Ethiopia, January 2018: Violent protests against Mr. Ahmed’s government and leadership erupted from within his own ethno-national group, the Oromo, in October 2019. His hope of transcending Ethiopia’s “ethnic federation”, and the country moving to open and competitive political system, has been made more difficult to realize in the near term.

[27] A proposal has been submitted to a major research institute in the United States to conduct such a comprehensive exercise during the academic year, 2020-2021.

[28] There are several other European centers, such as in Maastricht, that are devoting particular attention to governance and development.

[29] The bulletin, Africa Demos, produced by the African Governance Program of The Carter Center, 1990-1994, was given its name to emphasize that the overriding purpose of democratization was enhancing the power of the greater majority of the people. The entire set is now available online at

[30] Wealth in “Social Wealth” was described as W (water), E (education, electricity, environment), A (agriculture – food), L (law-based governance), T (transportation), and H (health). Publications on the pioneering research by Lauren MacLean and her collaborators on citizenship, energy, climate change, and public services include “Expectations of Power: The Politics of State-Building and Access to Electricity Provision in Ghana and Uganda,” Journal of African Political Economy and Development, Vol. 1 (December 2016); “The construction of citizenship and the public provision of electricity during the 2014 World Cup in Ghana”, Journal of Modern African Studies, vol. 54, issue 4 (2016), and “Rethinking power and institutions in the shadow of neoliberalism”, World Development, vol. 120 (August 2019). Other pertinent publications are forthcoming.

[31] Several documents on the CLI are available at Arch Library of Northwestern University. They include:;;

[32] These are currently being explored by historian, Sean Hanretta, my Northwestern colleagues, for his own teaching and research, in association with Ghanaian colleagues.

[33] Abelard to Apple: The Fate of American Colleges and Universities (Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2011.

[34] Such a leaning community was established in 2005-2011 with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A Research Alliance to Combat HIV/AIDS(REACH), involving the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, Northwestern University, and other international partners, conducted pioneering research on prevention strategies. Teams of student researchers were trained under its auspices while Nigerian faculty were provided unique opportunities to pursue their own research and publications.

[35] This topic was the subject of a keynote address at a conference on Open Access at Northwestern University, October 24, 2017:

[36] The Open Society Foundation is currently supporting a cohort of fellows who address this topic.


[38] An association, Integrity, was established in Jamaica under the leadership of Dr. Trevor Munroe to conduct a range of activities designed to pursue the aims mentioned here. Authority Stealing is the apt title of a book on anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria by Wale Adebanwi. The sub-title and publishing details are Anti-Corruption War and Democratic Politics in Post-Military Nigeria (Carolina Academic Press, 2012).

[39] “Swallow: Food Security in Nigeria’s Changing Climate” is the anticipated sequel.

[40] For its advocacy in a French town experiencing industrial decline, see

[41] I have been a non-resident senior fellow of the Brookings Institution Global Economy and Development program, and an affiliate of its Africa Growth Initiative since its creation.

[42] The complete document is available at A book, co-edited by Richard Joseph and Alexandra Gillies, followed: Smart Aid for Africa (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2008).

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