European Conference on African Studies (Basel, 29 June – 1st July 2017)


The Developmental State Strikes Back? The Rise of New Global Powers and African States’ Development Strategies

Panel organized by Antoine Kernen, Didier Péclard and Guive Khan-Mohammad

Short abstract
This panel intends to analyze the development strategies of African states in a context marked by the end of the Washington consensus and the diversification of international donors, and in which the state is given again – and takes – a more important role as driver of development.

Long abstract
This panel proposes to study the place and role of African states in the context of a changing development landscape at the global level as well as on the continent. Our reflection builds on two interrelated observations: since the end of the Washington consensus, new paradigms in the field of international development are emerging, whereby the state is given a more important role as driver of development; thanks to unprecedented levels of economic growth and a diversified donor and investor landscape, African states are in a position to increase their room for maneuver and thus able to play a more central role in the definition of their development agendas. In this panel, we therefore intend to put the development strategies of African states at the centre of the analysis, by interrogating how they react to and appropriate changes in development policies at the global level as well as the arrival of new players such as China and other emerging economies on the development scene. Moreover, we  propose to ask whether and to what extent the strategies of African states in this new setting are conducive to long-term changes in terms of social and human development, or whether they tend to reproduce and reinforce long-established power relations and the deepening of social inequalities. We call for communications coming from various social sciences and humanities discipline, but based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Africa.

More information on the ECAS website.


Vision 2035 au Cameroun: entre ruptures et continuités

Author: Gérard Amougou (Université de Yaoundé)  email

Short Abstract

En 2009, le gouvernement camerounais va élaborer programme de planification du développement, en vue de l’atteinte de l’émergence en 2035. Si ses auteurs lui confèrent un caractère innovateur, son opérationnalité laisse néanmoins percevoir une réalité complexe, faite de rupture et de continuité.

Long Abstract

« Vision 2035 » est un document-programme de projection et de planification du développement élaboré en 2009 par le gouvernement camerounais en vue de l’atteinte de l’émergence en 2035. Pour ses promoteurs et acteurs centraux du pouvoir au Cameroun, le caractère novateur de ce vaste programme de planification de développement à long terme entraîne nécessairement une rupture avec le passé. Surtout, il inaugurerait une nouvelle temporalité de sortie du « diktat » des institutions de Breton Wood et des partenaires étatiques bilatéraux influents de l’OCDE. Cette nouvelle configuration favorisée par l’arrivée des acteurs tels la Chine et d’autres pays émergents sur la scène internationale, aura ainsi conféré une marge de manœuvre déterminante au Cameroun, et qui serait à l’origine de Vision 2035. Dans le but d’opérationnaliser ladite vision de manière séquentielle, les pouvoirs publics vont élaborer un Document de Stratégie pour la Croissance et Emploi (DSCE), servant comme cadre de référence de l’action gouvernementale pour la période 2010-2020. À partir des premières enquêtes exploratoires effectuées auprès de certains acteurs étatiques et un regard global sur la réception sociale de la propagande étatique dite « Émergence 2035 », la présente communication se propose de relever quelques ruptures et continuités décelées en vue de mieux situer les enjeux sociaux et politiques de la nouvelle rhétorique de planification du développement en cours au Cameroun. is

Kaizen and Ethiopia: a Match Made in Developmentalist Heaven?

Author: Elsje Fourie (University of Maastricht)  email

Short Abstract

This paper explores the role of the ‘Kaizen’ business philosophy in Ethiopia’s national development strategy. In Ethiopia, kaizen acts not only as a technical tool to increase industrial productivity, but as part of a larger programme of societal improvement and state developmentalism.

Long Abstract

In recent years, the Japanese government has had considerable success in stimulating many African businesses and institutions to experiment with the adoption and implementation of the ‘Kaizen’ business philosophy. Closely associated with Japan’s own rapid industrial development in the 1970s and 1980s, kaizen has been seized on by a range of African countries aiming to emulate this apparently miraculous success story. One such country is Ethiopia, where kaizen has been given a prominent place in the ruling party’s second national five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (2015-2020) and where dedicated official institutions devoted to the study and dissemination of the concept have been established.

Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Addis Ababa in May 2016, this paper examines the motivations of the key actors involved in bringing kaizen to Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s ruling party actively seeks to harness this philosophy not only towards economic growth, but also towards political gain and even for the purposes of broader social engineering. Kaizen is therefore a key plank in the Ethiopian government’s vision of state developmentalism, while for the Japanese government it is an opportunity to bolster its soft power by acting as a reliable and pragmatic political partner to Ethiopia. This approach towards development assistance runs largely parallel to aid programmes conducted by Western donors but represents part of an increasingly central (co-constructed) project between primarily East Asian donors and African recipients to bring the developmental state to Africa.

The promise of equal partnerships: agency of African countries in cooperation with the emerging powers. Evidence from Mozambique and Malawi.

Author: Tom De Bruyn (KU Leuven)  email

Short Abstract

The emerging powers cooperation approach departs from a mutual beneficial partnership without conditions and interference…at least in discourse. This article examines the agency and decision making power of Mozambique and Malawi in nine flagship projects of Brazil, India and the PR China.

Long Abstract

The (re-)entry of the emerging powers as development cooperation providers is said to have raised the bargaining power and agency of African governments. Besides the influx of extra sources of income, this might be explained by the particular South-South Cooperation approach which is framed within a horizontal and mutual beneficial relationship or partnership among equals, which renounces imposing conditions and interfering in national policies.

This paper examines how and to what extent this equal partnership is put into practice in nine flagship state-to-state development projects of China, Brazil and India with Malawi and Mozambique in agriculture and health. Case studies include amongst other agricultural demonstration and malaria control centre (China), a pharmaceutical factory and school feeding programs (Brazil) and the Pan-African e-Network and cotton assistance (India). The study deconstructs the agency and decision making power of the different actors involved (incl. different governmental levels) from the African partner countries, the Southern providers and – where relevant – other countries in three phases of the project cycle: agenda setting, design, implementation.

Based on four years research and over 200 interviews, the paper develops a typology of five different ways – ranging from African partner’s being in the driver’s seat to blueprint approaches with limited consultation – and a number of conducive and limiting contextual factors which determine the extent to which the principle is put into practice.

The paper draws from these insights conclusions regarding the effectiveness of the cooperation approaches.

Articulating land-governance and State action in Senegalese land grab

Author: BENEGIAMO MAURA  email

Short Abstract

Emerging land-investment regulation in Senegal calls for a strong role of the State in development economics and for its articulation with governance mechanisms. This articulation allows State to both support accumulation and pursue own governmental goals while avoiding confrontation with locals.

Long Abstract

In the last years, private flows into African agriculture have begun to grow, combined with a rise in large-scale land deals. Investors have been encouraged by policies enacted by host States, coming within transnational development guidelines assessing agribusiness contribution to Africa economy. With the aim of facilitating land-access for new investors and granting them favorable conditions to set agricultural projects, these policies are mostly embracing neoliberal configurations, setting free-tax regimes and constituting special economic zones. Senegal has strongly embarked upon the implementation of this development strategy, especially in the region of Senegal River Delta. However, the localization of agribusiness projects on pastoral lands, and in competition with smallholding family-farming, highlights the dispossessing and extractive character of this policy. This paper addresses current agribusiness projects as part of the so-called post-development geographies, i.e. processes of territorial fragmentation within the State, engendering differential arrangements of economic expansion and social exclusion. Drawing from fieldwork on conflicts over a large-scale investment, the paper focuses on governing procedures associated with investments and conflicts governance. It evidences how the scenario of land-investment regulation in Senegal calls for a particular articulation between state action and governance mechanisms. The paper further argues that within this state-governance interaction, the State acts as a supporter of accumulation processes but it also strategically builds on capitalist dynamics to pursue its own governmental goals and avoid confrontation with locals. Finally, this paper addresses the emerging governing strategy in Senegal through the lens of new power assemblages reflecting State transformations in post-development economies.

Merits and demerits of the Chadian petro-developmental state

Author: Yorbana Seign-Goura (University of Neuchatel)  email

Short Abstract

This paper seizes the use and misuses of oil revenues in Chad by the State in order to address the social, economic and political challenges during a decade of oil extraction.

Long Abstract

The discovery and then the exploitation of oil in Chad for over a decade are transforming its society and its regime. There was a hope that oil extraction will let to sustainable development and Chad will use oil revenues to solve social, economic and security challenges.

The existing rentier management policies introduced by the State and international organizations should bring Chad in theory out of poverty and the structural violence that has affected it for more than half a century now.

This paper attempts to review the transformations that Chad is going through during the oil exploitation era. The framework of the rentier state (Beblawi and Luciani, 1987) and petro-developmental state (Ovadia, 2016) will be used to assess the transformation process. The framework refers to the fact that the state in resource-rich countries is the main stakeholder and is responsible for promoting sustainable developmental policies and local content for the benefit of its society.

The findings show that the management of oil revenues resulted in poor socio-economic outcomes. The unexpected results of this oil extraction are that the state is getting stronger with oil resources while poverty and insecurity are on the rise.

This work highlights the paradoxical and critical impacts of the use and misuses of oil revenue in Chad at various scales mainly local and international through the framework of the rentier and petro-developmental state theories which put States and their policies first.