Africa’s Stalled Development: International Causes and Cures
By David K. Leonard and Scott Straus
Lynne Rienner, 2003, 150 pp.
Leonard and Straus, of the University of California at Berkeley, synthesize much recent writing on African political economy into an intriguing big picture that both analyzes the past and prescribes for the future. Without denying the overgeneralizations involved, they hope to jolt the aid establishment toward fundamentally new perspectives. They offer strong evidence that Africa's past economic and political interactions with the international system have created a set of incentives that are deeply dysfunctional for economic development. Old patterns have fostered weak states, antidemocratic leadership, and widespread civil conflict. To break these patterns, the authors want to restructure the incentives produced by the current conjunction of debt, foreign aid, and technical assistance to economies that often depend on enclave production of exports. Their proposed cures are immediate debt cancellation and reductions in most forms of foreign aid for governments with demonstrable commitments to democracy and development, followed by a system of multilateral guarantees to protect these legitimate governments from armed threats by rebel groups (who sustain themselves through illegal means such as the capture of profit-making enclaves). An over-idealistic but thought-provoking contribution to development debates.