In 2012, two large research programmes reported final results that shed new light on fundamental questions about the past and future development of Africa. Tracking Development (TD), an international collaboration led from Leiden University in the Netherlands, published the most systematic study undertaken yet of the comparative development experience of sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia since 1960. The Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP) reported findings from a large comparative enquiry into the politics of economic performance and public goods delivery across African countries. Since 2012, researchers from TD and APPP have been collaborating in a new project on Initiating and Sustaining Developmental Regimes in Africa (the DRA Project).
The TD and APPP findings agreed in challenging an international policy consensus on Africa that has treated departures from global standards of ‘good governance’ as the key to Africa’s comparatively weak long-term development record. The two programmes showed that policy choices and institutional differences other than those emphasised in ‘good governance’ theory need much greater emphasis than they get in mainstream policy.
However, this convergence left a number of questions unanswered and several policy puzzles to be resolved. Further evidence was needed if a completely coherent alternative story was to be presented. Since 2012, the DRA Project has been addressing these questions and puzzles and publishing the results on a joint website (www.institutions-africa.org). This report summarises and discusses the project’s main findings.