This timely book will stimulate debate about the roots of poverty in Africa and what should be done about it. It draws on a substantial body of research to argue that much thinking on Africa – from both official donors and from international NGOs alike – is flawed, because that thinking either does not recognize or does not draw out the implications of the central role of politics and the state in Africa’s development problems.
In almost all African countries the political elites are uninterested in leading a development process. Western donor countries and institutions have largely turned a blind eye to this situation, and indeed aid has become an important resource in maintaining anti-developmental states. By contrast, in almost all other successful development episodes – such as in East Asia – the state has played a key role. Anti-developmental politics remains a problem even in countries that are seen as ‘good performers’. The analysis leads to a different policy agenda for aid, trade, debt and corruption, and also a different campaigning agenda for NGOs: agendas that have a focus on support for the emergence of a new kind of politics in Africa.