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Centre of African Studies: Events


Political leaders and development in sub-Saharan Africa

Political leaders and development in sub-Saharan Africa
Speaker: Giovanni Carbone # University of Milan
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Date and Time
18th Nov 2020 16:00 - 18th Nov 2020 17:30
Microsoft Teams

Political leaders took centre stage in African politics and development processes since countries in the region gained independence in the 1960s. Their rising prominence in the post-independence decades mostly went hand in hand with development failures across the continent. A ‘leadership trap’ emerged that was manifest in two distinct – and apparently contradictory – political syndromes: the long overstay in office of many power-holders and a chronic instability due to the frequency of coups d’état. The ensuing political environment was dominated by a concern to retain political office rather than promote a country’s development effectively. Key political reforms began to be adopted in the early 1990s, when most sub-Saharan countries introduced multiparty elections and seemed to find a way towards a more orderly and regular succession of their leaders. But what was the broader impact exerted by the new mechanisms for selecting political leaders on the political stabilization of African states, on the growth of their economies, and on the welfare of ordinary citizens? Drawing on an original Africa Leadership Change (ALC) dataset, we address these issues by empirically investigating the actual bearing of distinct leadership dynamics on development processes across the sub-Saharan region, for the entire 1960-2018 period. We show how, as Africa changed its leaders and the way they reach power, the new leaders began to change Africa.

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