African countries are among those receiving the most foreign aid per capita. Many detractors blame that aid for encouraging dictatorship and undermining democracy. This article takes a contrary view. It analyses the relationship between the amount of development assistance given to sub-Saharan countries in the 1990s, and changes in their political systems. There is empirical evidence that arbitrary, unrepresentative government diminished in Africa. The data also suggest a positive, though small, correlation between development assistance and democratisation in the 1990s. The issue now facing many African countries is how to consolidate and extend these reforms on their own, with less external support.
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