This paper reviews empirical evidence concerning government errors of commission and omission in Africa. Seen in the context of international comparisons, how do African states measure up in the defensive functions of avoiding government excess? And how do they rate in the constructive functions of supplying public goods in response to demands from society? Regarding errors of commission, African states do not stand out as singularly prone to spend large shares of GNP, to employ high ratios of the population in bureaucratic jobs, or to own extensive state-owned enterprises. The data on errors of omission are more equivocal. African states do too little to prevent corruption, to protect civil and political rights, and to secure the legal environment for business. Yet, other developing regions display many of the same deficiencies. Overall, there is little empirical evidence of a sui generis African state.
Authors Christensen and Laitin argue that an interplay of geographic, historical, and demographic factors undergird sub-Saharan states' post-independence struggles to eradicate poverty, establish democratic accountability, and quell civil unrest. They set out the founding fathers' challenges in transforming their postcolonial states, many of which are ethnically diverse, geographically diffuse, sparsely populated, and lacking in administrative capacity. With the legacies of the slave trade, partition, Christian missionaries, and extractive colonial institutions complicating their efforts, many African states faced stagnation, authoritarianism, and civil strife. Recent years have seen promising attempts to restore democracy to states under authoritarian rule and to liberalize their economies, suggesting that the region is moving toward a new era. Relying on the best statistical data and richly illustrated with case material, this book is an indispensable source for scholars and policy analysts seeking to understand Africa's post-independence political trajectories.
The First Conference of Independent African States, attended by representatives of the independent states of western and northern Africa (Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Libya, Morocco, the Sudan, Tunisia, and the United Arab Republic), was held in Accra, Ghana, from April 15 to 22, 1958. The purpose of the conference was: 1) to discuss problems of common interest; 2) to formulate and coordinate methods aimed at accelerating mutual understanding; 3) to consider means of safeguarding the independence and sovereignty of participating countries and of assisting dependent African territories in their efforts toward the attainment of self-government; and 4) to plan cultural exchanges and mutual assistance schemes.
Political history as state ideology introduction -- The trail of the horse: stateness, statelessness and the ethics of state inhibition -- The time/space dynamics of the constitution of the political -- Statization and centralizing processes in 18th century Moogo -- Rituals as political references -- The state in transition: a recapitulation