This 2001 book explains why African countries have remained mired in a disastrous economic crisis since the late 1970s. It shows that dynamics internal to African state structures largely explain this failure to overcome economic difficulties rather than external pressures on these same structures as is often argued. Far from being prevented from undertaking reforms by societal interest and pressure groups, clientelism within the state elite, ideological factors and low state capacity have resulted in some limited reform, but much prevarication and manipulation of the reform process, by governments which do not really believe that reform will be effective, which often oppose reforms because they would undercut the patronage and rent-seeking practices which undergird political authority, and which lack the administrative and technical capacity to implement much reform. Over time, state decay has increased.
• A comprehensive analysis of Africa's political economy of the last quarter century • Highly topical, given the current debates about the role of the World bank and IMF in Africa • Cuts across the political science field of international relations and comparative politics
Introduction; 1. Approaches to Africa's permanent crisis; 2. Patterns in economic reform implementation, 1979–99; 3. Decision making in post-colonial Africa; 4. Understanding state responses to the crisis; 5. The crisis and foreign aid; 6. Democratization and the prospects for change; 7. Conclusion.
'This landmark work presents a searching and persuasive political explanation of Africa's failure to achieve development despite two decades of externally imposed economic reform … A major contribution to our understanding of Africa's political economy.' Foreign Affairs
'This is economics by someone who understands African politics. No Africanists can afford not to read it.' Commonwealth & Comparative Politics
'A well-written book is usually a persuasive book, and this book is well written. Its reasoning is more than persuasive, however: it is compelling in its gloomy conclusions, in which the failure of economic reform seems inescapable. … Van der Walle's book is probably the best among a spate of literature that explains the African economic predicament in terms of the patrimonial nature of politics.' The Journal of Development Studies
'The book is a must-read for all those interested in understanding the African situation and how progress might be achieved in the future. … this is an excellent study.' Development in Practice