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Exploring the Impact of Neopatrimonialism Dominance in Africa

Exploring the Impact of Neopatrimonialism Dominance in Africa

Wellington G. Bonga

Journal Title:Journal of Economics and Finance

States in Africa have registered insignificant prosperity in the post-colonisation era. External and internal factors have been blamed for development path registered by many nations. Among the cited internal factors, little has been said about neopatrimonial regimes dominating Africa. Well, the probable reason may be that existing political rulers may never criticise their actions, as it comes from their inside agenda. Neopatrimonialism has dominated many African states, though at varying degrees. The regime has diverted from the much needed democracy to a patrimonial regime blended in modern state. Neopatrimonialism takes many forms for different nations, and has differing impacts as well. Neopatrimonialism as a concept can be applied to a number of different regime types whether they be multi-party democracies, single-party systems, personal dictatorships, “plebiscitary”, or military oligarchies. Neopatrimonialism is regarded as a dominant feature of the developing countries of Africa, being seen as a core feature of local politics in Sub-Saharan Africa. Latin America, the Middle East and Southern Europe has also registered neopatrimonialism, but its use has never achieved such unanimity as in Africa. The foundation of neopatrimonialism in Africa derived from the experiences of colonialism combined with the precolonial style of administration. Neopatrimonialism has the capacity of diverting public resources to serve private interests rather than enlightened interests. Resource distribution in neopatrimonial systems is always motivated by the patron’s incentive to ensure incumbency. Neopatrimonialism is directly linked to corruption and damage the long term culture of democracy. The study showed the dominance of neopatrimonialism in Africa, its impact to revenue collection, income distribution, rule of law, weakening of institutions, investment promotion, human rights, information access, public sector performance among other social and economic concerns. The study explains that no meaningful development will be achieved in Africa when strong form of neopatrimonialism exist. The study suggest genuine political and economic reforms to be undertaken. Power have to be taken out of the hands of the state and given to the people, where it belongs. The reforms comes in the form of democratization, market liberalization, decentralization or diffusion of power, and the adoption of power-sharing arrangements. Given variations in neopatrimonialism across African countries, it is very crucial that policy makers and practitioners should not equate all institutions to be functioning in a neopatrimonial way. Key words: Africa, Clientelism, Colonialism, Corruption, Democracy, Imperialism, Neopatrimonialism, Patrimonialism, Politics, Post-colonialism, Rent-seeking. JEL Codes: D63, D72, D73, E21, E22, F51, F54, H53, H62, J71, K42, N47, P16, P48, P51