The Oxford Martin Programme on

African Governance

The Challenge

The economic, social and political governance challenges for sub-Saharan Africa remain immense. Despite progress in some health and education indicators, Africa needs more inclusive growth, jobs for its fast-growing population, and better social services and infrastructure.

Our work is organized around three themes.

First, we will look in-depth at Ethiopia’s attempts at industrialisation and contrast it with experiences in other countries. Second, we will study the changing political economy of infrastructure and service delivery: how changing and at times maturing politics affect their impact, as in Ghana and Kenya and a number of other contrasting cases. Finally, we study the current political and economic responses to the post-2014 reality for resource-rich economies, such as Angola and Nigeria, and what this will mean for the quest for economic diversification and the lessening of resource dependence in these economies.

The specific research questions we tackle are:

  • How will jobs be created at a scale necessary to deal with the youth bulge, and are recent attempts at industrialisation the solution? Can industrialisation succeed in the economic and political contexts that exist in present-day African states?
  • How is the volatility in commodity prices being handled, politically, socially and economically, and what does it mean for the long-term trajectory of affected states, given previous failed attempts to diversify resource-rich economies?
  • Focusing on infrastructure and social service delivery, is the quality of governance and the basis of political accountability changing? What lessons can be drawn from the experience across various countries?

With this programme, we aim to discover what is holding back job creation and economic transformation, and the delivery of quality social services and infrastructure. We want to understand how better economic, social, and political governance may unlock this, and will focus on specific cases and countries with lessons for the rest of the continent.

featured video

On hippos, tigers, pancakes and soufflés: trends and challenges for African governance

Professor Stefan Dercon, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance, discusses some of the recent and likely demographic, economics and political trends across Africa, as well as how across countries challenges are being handled.

By no means conclusive, the talk aims to give a flavour of the risks and opportunities for change across the continent, exploring some of the key research and policy questions at stake.