Africa Power and Politics Programme

July 2007 to June 2012

There is growing recognition that in low-income Africa the way power is exercised needs to change if widespread poverty reduction is to be achieved. This is supported by a well established general analysis of African states. But existing knowledge is of limited practical use. It does not tell us which types of hybrid formal-informal power structures may be capable of providing “good enough governance” and which are irremediably anti-developmental. This knowledge is essential because developmental states have invariably emerged out of neopatrimonial ones, and within contemporary Africa there is significant variation in outcomes across places, times and institutional spheres.

We hypothesise that there is scope for reforms that work “with the grain” of the prevailing (often corrupt) practices to mitigate their most negative consequences and harness any unexpected strengths. We propose a systematic study of this issue, based on intensive case studies and linked survey work in a range of African countries. This is proposed as part of an integrated programme, combining research, research training, organisational capacity strengthening, and policy influence and policy development. The research will be carried out in a way that helps to create constituencies for the needed changes in thinking and practice.


Agricultural dynamics and food security trends in Uganda

Working and discussion papers | August 2015 | André Leliveld, Ton Dietz, Dick Foeken & Wijnand Klaver
This, the second case study of four from the Development Regimes in Africa (DRA) project exploring African agricultural breakthroughs, turns to look at the progress made by Uganda in its agricultural sector between 1961 - 2011.

Developmental regimes in Africa

Research reports and studies | January 2015 | David Booth, Tim Kelsall, et al.
A synthesis report of the Development Regimes in Africa (DRA) project, funded by the ODI and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Economic growth and political succession: a study of two regions

Working and discussion papers | January 2013 | Tim Kelsall
By means of a qualitative comparative analysis of fast-growing countries in Southeast Asia and Africa, this working paper explores how countries can avoid the 'succession trap' experienced by many African countries in the second half of the 20th century.

Good governance vs. collective action

Comment | 16 April 2012 | David Booth (Africa Power & Politics Programme), Ole Therkildsen (Elites, Production & Poverty), Adrian Leftwich (Developmental Leadership Programme), Colin Poulton (Political Economy of Agricultural Policy in Africa) David Henley (Tracking Development)
'Development outcomes in poor countries depend fundamentally on incentives. The political incentives facing elites and leaders are the key to possible change at national level.'
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Is the bride too beautiful? Safe motherhood in rural Rwanda

Research reports and studies | March 2012 | Vikki Chambers and Frederick Golooba-Mutebi
This report identifies the institutional arrangements which have enabled Rwanda to achieve significant improvement in ensuring safe motherhood for growing numbers of women in rural Rwanda.

Working with the Grain? Rethinking African Governance

Journal articles or issues | March 2011 | Richard C. Crook and David Booth (eds.)
At the heart of current policy thinking about Africa there is a significant knowledge gap concerning governance and development. This IDS Bulletin is concerned with what can be done about that, drawing on new findings from the research consortium, Africa Power and...