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Things Fall Apart Again: Structural Adjustment Programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2008


International economics and global politics are unfamiliar territory for many. However, the operations of institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F.) have profound impacts upon the countries with which they treat, and these extend beyond financial issues and geo-politics. This article indicates how the I.M.F. has imposed ‘conditionalities’ in sub-Saharan Africa as integral elements of Structural Adjustment Programmes (S.A.P.s) that affect not only the lives of all the inhabitants, but also the nature and landscapes of the nations concerned — their very geographical composition.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1992

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4 The 1980s witnessed a complicated convergence between the I.M.F. and the World Bank in the evolution of S.A.P.s that address the twin issues of debt and economic growth. Previously, the Fund was mainly concerned with currencies and international trade, whereas the interestas of the World Bank centred upon poverty and development. See the special issue of Geoforum (Elmsford, NY, and Oxford), 19, 1, 1988, pp. 1131Google Scholar, on ‘The Debt Crisis’ edited by Stuart Corbridge, and also Campbell, Bonnie, ‘Indebtedness in Africa: consequence, cause or symptom of the crisis?’, in Onimode, Bade (ed.), The IMF, the World Bank and the African Debt, Vol. 2, The Social and Political Impact (London and New Jersey, 1989), pp. 1730.Google Scholar

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37 Ibid. p. 56. This is enhanced by I.M.F. ‘holier than thou’ writing.

38 Nyerere, Julius K., ‘Africa and the Debt Crisis’, in African Affairs (London), 84, 337, 10 1985, pp. 493–4.Google Scholar

39 Such pardons only serve to allow the élite to resume the past agendas which led to the current crises of the continent–in other words, they indicate to people like President Mobuto of Zaïre that they can renew their plunder because the day of reckoning has been delayed.

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