Governance challenges are not fundamentally about one set of people getting another set of people to behave better – the common assumption of the stock-in-trade ‘supply side’ and ‘demand side’ approaches to governance improvement in Africa.
The fundamental challenges are about both sets of people finding ways of being able to act together in their own best interests. They are about collective problem-solving in fragmented societies hampered by exceptionally low levels of trust. A smarter approach to reform and international cooperation for development would take this as its starting point.
This is the headline finding of the newly-published Synthesis report which brings to a close the work of Africa Power and Politics (APPP) a five-year programme led by ODI with research teams in Mali, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
The report takes the debate forward in several new ways. It goes beyond such generic formulas as ‘good fit’ and ‘working with the grain’ to identify specific practical steps and ways of working that could make a difference to some of the most critical issues in African development.