Africa may have some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, but investment and incomes still lag far behind other regions. Conventional development wisdom lays the blame on a governance syndrome known as neo-patrimonialism, a system of personal rule held together by the distribution of economic rents to clients or cronies. But recent research by the Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP) into seven historical and six contemporary African cases shows that neo-patrimonialism is not always as economically damaging as the development community believes. Findings include:
- In some circumstances neo-patrimonialism does not harm, and may even help, the climate for business and investment
- Neo-patrimonialism can be compatible with rapid, pro-poor, economic growth
- Donors and policy-makers need to recognise developmental neo-patrimonialism where it exists, and understand their impact on it.
Africa Power and Politics, Overseas Development Institute, London, UK, 4 pp.