Chapter 16Democracy and Development in Africa since 1960s

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Joan Ricart-Huguet


The relationship between democracy and economic development is central to political economy. Countries usually democratize as they develop. Likewise, countries develop as they democratize. While Africa has historically lagged behind in both dimensions, this chapter shows that the continent has made great strides towards democratization in spite of modest economic growth. Since 1990, the continent is quickly democratizing, yet bad governance hinders further democratization and development. This chapter focuses on “the three C’s of bad governance”- corruption, clientelism, and conflict - and their counterparts - accountability, programmatic policies, and political stability. After explaining the three C’s, we zoom into four countries that have experienced different political and economic trajectories. Benin and Uganda are poorer than the average country but the former democratized in the 1990s while the latter did not. Botswana and Mauritius are two very different countries, yet both are often praised as African success stories because of their rapid democratization and development since independence. In both cases, good governance helps explain their spectacular economic development.


Ricart-Huguet, Joan (2019). “Democracy and Development in Africa since 1960s”, In Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Felix Meier zu Selhausen (eds.), The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers. African Economic History Network.