Institutions, Governance and Economic Development in Africa: An Overview

Posted: 29 Feb 2008

See all articles by Anke Hoeffler

Anke Hoeffler

University of Oxford - Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE)

Augustin Fosu

United Nations - Economic Commission for Africa

Robert Bates

Harvard University - Department of Government

Abstract

As poor policies are blamed for dismal economic outcomes in many African countries and institutions and governance have assumed greater importance in explaining policy making, this article overviews a set of papers appearing in the current volume on `institutions, governance and economic development in Africa`. The following results emerge. First, while politically accountable governments can lead to improved economic outcomes, they are unlikely to adopt economically desirable policies that are unpopular with the populace. Unfortunately, such governments also tend to increase the risk of political disorder in Africa, which may in turn be growth-inhibiting. Thus, recent attempts by African countries to adopt more democratic governments may not lead to the expected improved growth and development outcomes unless successful attempts at minimising political disorder can be achieved. Second, the existence of ethnically based interest groups is likely to result in sub-optimal provision of public goods, which can be critical to the development process. Hence, the challenge of attenuating ethnic polarisation is a salient one. Third, as the Botswana case indicates, the ability to appropriately accommodate minority interests, coupled with the existence of external threats and natural resource endowments that foster the delineation of property rights, augers well for state building required for good governance, notwithstanding the existence of low population density.

Suggested Citation

Hoeffler, Anke and Fosu, Augustin and Bates, Robert, Institutions, Governance and Economic Development in Africa: An Overview. Journal of African Economies, Vol. 15, Issue 1, pp. 1-9, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=915487

Anke Hoeffler

University of Oxford - Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) ( email )

Oxford OX1 3UL
United Kingdom
+44 1865 274 554 (Phone)
+44 1865 274 558 (Fax)

Augustin Fosu (Contact Author)

United Nations - Economic Commission for Africa ( email )

Central Africa Office
Yaounde
Addis Ababa
Ethiopia

Robert Bates

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-496-0919 (Phone)
617-496-6849 (Fax)

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