Colonialism and Institutional Distortions: Rethinking African Development Predicaments

Godfrey E Sansa


Did colonialism lock Africa into a perverse institutional path of development? Why African countries remain in a jungle of development predicaments? What are alternative theoretical explanations of Africa’s continuing inability to move forward with the rest of the world? Numerous development analyses that the Continent has received since 1960s have tried to give answers to the presented questions. Focus has been on ideas, interests and struggles for resources between political leaders and bureaucrats at the expense of the continent’s development; ill-informed and unrealistic policies as well as strategies; anti-development behaviour of peasants together with their conservatism plus resistance to modernity; weak incentive structures of the economy; political disorder and chaos, which make development impossible; and colonial pre-emptive tendencies to the continent’s modernity. But why these regressive-development behaviours are predominant in Africa? This paper argues that the problem lies on distortion of the institutional foundation of African development processes.

Key words: colonialism, development, governance, institutional distortion, institutional theory,

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