The Moral Economy and the Problem of Accumulation in Africa: How the Ifi's Can Help

West Africa Review, Issue 7, 2005

Posted: 23 Feb 2006

See all articles by A.B. C. Adi

A.B. C. Adi

Lagos Business School; University of Tsukuba


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., The Moral Economy and the Problem of Accumulation in Africa: How the Ifi's Can Help. West Africa Review, Issue 7, 2005, Available at SSRN:

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

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics