Is Market Capitalism Possible Under the Moral Economy of Africa: How the Ifis Can Help

12 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2004

See all articles by A.B. C. Adi

A.B. C. Adi

Lagos Business School; University of Tsukuba

Date Written: April 2004


The question has been asked severally: Can Africa's moral economy, that is, Africa's present economic situation, support large scale capital accumulation that can create wealth and economic prosperity? The answer to this question has never been simple, nor direct, nor without ambiguity. In the past, the established position is that African development within its own cultural and historical antecedents is a mission impossible. Africa can develop so far as it is willing to adopt "modernization" which is inherently self - alienating. But the new thesis advanced by Mkandawire and Soludo (1999) challenges this pessimism and argues that market capitalism is possible in Africa despite its moral economy. This paper exposes this debate to new light by taking an insightful look at the present realities of the moral economy in Africa, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. This offers the basis for re-considering the prospects of capitalist accumulation within the moral economy. Given the interest the moral economy is recently generating, we deem it necessary to question whether it is possible for this economy to support capital accumulation, which of course, is the sine qua non for economic development or is the moral economy just the refuge of the poor? In the light of these, we will attempt to reconsider the role of International Financial Institutions, such as the World Bank and IMF, in providing assistance to this economy to overcome the obstacles to development.

Keywords: Moral Economy, Africa, Capitalist Accumulation, Institutions, Role of IFIs

Suggested Citation

Adi, Bongo C., Is Market Capitalism Possible Under the Moral Economy of Africa: How the Ifis Can Help (April 2004). Available at SSRN: or

Bongo C. Adi (Contact Author)

Lagos Business School ( email )

Pan-Atlantic University
KM 22, Lekki-Epe Expressway
Lagos, Lagos State


University of Tsukuba ( email )

Tsukuba University , Ibaraki Ken
Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8573, Ibaraki 3050006

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