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Postgraduate Courses

Rethinking Africa's Development (AXL5205F)


This course focuses on development theories in historical perspective, with specific reference to the manner in which African scholars and others have responded to the challenges of development in Africa. In particular, the course explores and seeks to engage with the various development theories and dynamics on Africa’s development. These theories, we would argue, continue to be at the heart of development debates and discussions in Africa. For purposes of this course, the period covered will be the era immediately following the Second World War to the current post-Cold War era. In a nutshell, the course examines some of the most important and influential theories of development which emerged in the context of the post-Second World War situation with specific reference to how Africans have responded to these developments. The course also reflects on the current economic growth and development dynamics including the Africa Rising Narrative. We give special attention in the course to the critical views of African intellectuals on Africa’s development trajectory.

The course is divided into two Parts: Part I looks at strategies adopted by independent (post-colonial) African states to address Africa’s development challenges. The underlying conceptual assumptions in these strategies are also highlighted. Part II, focuses on the dominant development theories that are implied in the strategies discussed in part I. In Part II, a relationship will be drawn between various competing theories of development and how these have influenced Africa’s development strategies and thinking. The course particularly focused on how capitalism spread to Africa and what its impact has been on the continent. We also explore the questions of why capitalism has taken the form that it has in Africa.  

A key concept that captures the current context is “inequalities”, manifesting themselves in the growing and vast disparities between rich and poor nations on the one hand, and rich and poor people within countries, including the “developed” countries of “the West” (Northwest Europe and North America), on the other. However, it is in the Global South, particularly on the African continent that these social and class divisions are deep and severe. Current indications show that the gap between the rich and the poor is not narrowing; if anything, it is getting worse globally (Piketty, 2015).

After dominating the global scene for most of the 1990s, there was a renewed response from the “left” that began to challenge the dominant notion in the 1990s that “there is no alternative” (TINA) to global neo-liberal capitalism. The current financial and economic volatility which casts doubts about the sustainability of capitalism has indeed created conditions that will not just strengthen the critique of capitalism, but also reflections about the alternative ways to organise society.

African scholars and intellectuals, as will be clear in this course, have been part of this debate. For our purposes, we will focus on the works of a selected number of Africans scholars focusing on their varied responses to the challenges of development on the African continent. Collective development initiatives by the African leaders such as the Lagos Plan of Action, Abuja Treat and NEPAD will be discussed together with the role of international development agencies such as World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). 

Course code: AXL5205F 
Type of degree: Postgraduate
Course convenor: A/Prof Horman Chitonge  
Last updated: Monday, February 01, 2016​

Course Assumption

This course is built on the assumption that an understanding of various development theories and approaches is critical to our understanding of how intellectuals and scholars, including Africans, engage with notions of development and economic growth.

Course Requirements and Evaluation

1. Class participation: 15% of the course

Regular attendance at seminar is a necessity. However, attendance on its own is not enough. To ensure maximum participation, there will be a written presentation for each seminar, based on the theme and the readings assigned for the seminar. Each student is expected to present at least once or twice, depending on the number of students in the class. The author of a seminar presentation will not present her/his work (paper). The paper will be done by another student (discussant). The oral presentation will be followed by a discussion of the various key issues identified from the readings by the author of the seminar presentation. All students are encouraged to bring questions or any issues for clarification at the seminar discussion.

For this system to work, the author must circulate the paper at least two days before the seminar, to give others at least a day to read the paper and prepare responses (preferably Monday noon)

2. Short essay: 35% of the course

Students will write a short essay of not more than 3000 words, on the topic of their own choice or on the topic assigned to the class. This essay should be submitted on 4 April (at the end of the seminar).

3. Research paper: 50% of the course 

As with the short essay, students are expected to choose a topic of their own. This essay, which should be between 5000 and not more than 6000 words, could be based on a “case study” which could be located within the theories discussed in the course. The essay should have a title, an abstract and fully referenced as if it is prepared for a journal article.

Please feel free to discuss your topic. The Second essay should be submitted on June 5

Lecture Times

Wednesdays 10:00 to 12:00

Lecture Venue

CAS Seminar Room 3.01

Course Convenor

​A/Prof Horman Chitonge:

The Course and Reading Material

The course will be presented over a period of 12-13 weeks in the first semester. It is important for students to note that this is a seminar-based course. This means that students are expected to show great initiative and not expect the lecturers to do everything for them. The success of the course will largely be determined by the level of participation on the part of students.

The readings in this course outline are meant to introduce students to some of the major past and present issues of development in Africa. For each seminar there are assigned readings (which must be read before coming to class) as well as a suggested list for further reading (not compulsory). Some readings will be added as we proceed with the course. In addition, each student is encouraged to search for additional material and share with the rest of the class.

Having said this, it is important for students to note that in their presentations and essays they are expected to demonstrate that they are familiar with the “prescribed” material. Additional readings are not meant to substitute those prescribed in the course.

In some cases and depending on availability, guest speakers may be invited to give a talk on issues relevant to the course. 

Part I: Approaches to Africa's Development Challenges

Seminar 1: February 17- Introduction to Development Concepts and Perspectives

Required Readings:

  • Martinussen, J. (1997). Society, State and Markets: A Guide to Competing Theories of Development. (Chapter 3: “Conceptions and Dimensions of Development”).
  • Ivan IIlich (1997). “ Development as Planned Poverty” in M. Rahnema & V. Rawtree(eds.) The Post-Development Reader. London/Cape Town: Zed/David Phillips. Chapter 9 (pp 94-101).
  • Sen, Amartya (1999). Development as Freedom. New York: Anchor Books. Chapter 1
  • United Nations Development Programme (1990). Human Development Report 1990. Chapter 1.

Additional Readings:

  • Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World Development. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Chapter 2.
  • Pieterse, J. N. (1998). My Paradigm or Yours? Alternative Development, Post-development, Reflexive Development. Development and Change 29(2), 343-73.
  • Rahnema, M. (1997) ”Towards Post-development: Searching for Signposts, a New Language and New Paradigms” ,in M. Rahnema and V. Bawtree (eds.) The Post-Development Reader. London: Zed Books.
  • Escobar, A.(1995): “Imagining a post-Development era.” In Crush, J., editor The power of development, London: Routledge, 211-27.
  • Agrawal, A. (1996): “Poststructuralist Approaches to Development: Some Critical Reflections” Peace and Change 21(4), 464-77.
  • Wolfgang Sachs, “Introduction,” in Wolfgang Sachs (eds.) The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1992)

Seminar 2: February 24 - Development in Africa: The Development Decade

Required Readings:

  • Green, Reginal (1965). “Four African Development Plans: Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania.” Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 3, No.2. 249-79
  • Henry P. (1963). “The United Nations and the Problem of African Development”. Pages 362-375.
  • Kamarck, A. M. (1967). The Economics of African Development. London: Frederick Pager. Chapter 1(African Economic Development in Historical Perspectives) pages 3-20.

Additional Readings:

  • Frederick C (2002). Africa since 1940. Cambridge University Press. Chapter 1
  • Kamarck, A. M. (1967). The Economics of African Development. London: Frederick Pager. Chapter 2(The Structure of African Economies) Pages 21-40.
  • Killick, Tony (1976). “The Possibility of Development Planning.” Oxford Economic Papers(New Series), Vol.28, No.2. 161-184.
  • Shen, T. Y. (1977). “Macro Development Planning in Tropical Africa: Technocrtic and non-Technocratic Causes of Failure.” Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 13, issue, 4. 413-427.
  • Todaro, Michael (1971). Development Planning: Models and Methods. Nairobi: Oxford U. Press.

Seminar 3: March 2 - Roots of Underdevelopment in Africa

Required Readings:  

  • Amin, Samir (1972). “Underdevelopment and Dependency in Black Africa: Historical Origin.” Journal of Peace Research, Vol. 9, No. 2. 105-120.
  • Rodney, Walter (1972). How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. London: Bogle L'Ouverture, Chapter 3
  • I. Wallerstein, “The three stages of African involvement in the world economy” in P. Gutkind & I. Wallerstein (eds), The Political Economy of Contemporary Africa (1976), pp. 30-57

Additional Readings:

  • Vincent Tucker, “The Myth of Development: A Critique of a Eurocentric Discourse,” in Ronaldo Munck and Denis O’Hearn (eds.) Critical Development Theory: Contributions to a New Paradigm, (London: Zed Books, 1999),
  • V. Y. Mubimbe (1988). The Invention of Africa, Gnosis, Philosophy and the Order of Knowledge Bloomington and Indianapolis:Indiana University press.
  • Archie Mafeje (2002). “The Ideology of Tribalism.” Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 9, No.2.
  • T. Mkandawire (2003) “African Intellectuals and Nationalism”. A Paper Presented at the Conference on the 30th Anniversary of CODESRIA.
  • Franz Fanon. The Wretched of the Earth (any edition), chapter 3 in particular
  • B. Berman & C. Leys (eds), African Capitalists in African Development (1994). Chapter 1

Seminar 4: March 9 - Socialism and the Development of Africa

Required Readings:

  • Kwame Nkruma (1967) “African Socialism Revisited.” Paper read at the Africa Seminar held in Cairo at the invitation of the two organs At-Talia and Problems of Peace and Socialism.
  • Mohan, Jitendra (1966). “Varieties of African Socialism.” In R. Milliban & J. Sauville (eds.) The Socialist Register, 1966: London: Merlin Press. 220-266 (pages 220-35)

Additional Readings:

  • Campbell, Horace. Pan-Africanism: The Struggle against Imperialism and Neocolonialism, Documents of the Sixth Pan-African Congress. Toronto: Afro Carib Publications, 1975.
  • Anonymous (2010). “African Socialism and its Varieties”
  • Nyerere, J. “Freedom and Unity.” Indiana University Press.
  • Alexander, A. (2003). “New meanings of Panafricanism in the era of globalisation”. The Fourth Annual
  • Frantz Fanon Distinguished Lecture, DePaul University, Chicago, USA, 8 October.
  • Rotberg R. (1966).” African Nationalism: Concept or Confusion?” Journal of Modern African Studies, 4, I (1966), 33-46
  • Kodjo, Edem, and David Chanaiwa (1993). "Pan-Africanism and Liberation." In History of Africa. Vol. 8: Africa since 1935, edited by Ali A. Mazrui. Oxford: Heinemann, Berkeley: University of California Press, and Paris: UNESCO 6 
  • Cooper, Frederick (2002). Africa since 1940: The Past of the Present. New York: Cambridge University Press. Chapter 3.
  • Ake, C. 1996. Democracy and Development in Africa. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
  • Mamdani, M. (1996). Citizen and Subject: contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. Cape Town: David Philip.

Seminar 5: March 16 - Divergent Strategies for Africa’s Development

Required Readings:

  • Organisation of African Unity (1980). Lagos Plan of Action ( Pages 1-33, & 98-103)
  • World Bank (1981). Accelerated Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: An Agenda for Action (The Berg Report). New York: IBRD/World Bank (Pages 1-24)
  • Browne, S. Robert & Cummings, J. Robert (1984). The Lagos Plan of Action Versus the Berg Report. Lawrencevill: Brunswick. Chapter 1.
  • Owusu, F. (2003). “Pragmatism and the Gradual Shift from Dependency to Neoliberalism: The World Bank, African Leaders and Development Policy in Africa.” World Development, Vol.31, No.10. 1656-72.

Additional Readings:

  • World Bank (2000). Can Africa Claim the 21st Century?(The Gelb Report). New York. IBRD/World Bank.
  • World Bank (1986). Financing Adjustment with Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa 1986-90. New York: IBRD/World Bank.
  • World Bank (2005). Economic Growth from the 1990s: Learning from a Decade of Reform. New York: IBRD/World Bank.
  • Pete, R. (2002) Unholy Trinity: The IMF: World Bank and WTO. London: Zed Books. Chapter 1.
  • Williamson, J (2000). “What Should the World Bank Think About the Washington Concensus? “ World Bank Research Observer, Vol. 5, No.2. 251-64.
  • Mkandawire T. Soludo, C, (1999). Our Continent, our Future: African perspectives on structural adjustment (Chapter 1)
  • World Bank (1994). Adjustment in Africa: Reforms, Results and the Road Ahead. New York. IBRD/World Bank
  • Wolfensohn, J. (1999). A proposal for a Comprehensive Development Framework. Washington, DC: World Bank.​

 Seminar 6: March 23 - State and Development in Africa: ‘The Lost Decade’

Required Readings:

  • Omano, Edighji (2005). “A Democratic Development State in Africa? A Concept Paper. Research Report No. 105, Centre for Policy Studies, Johannesburg.
  • Mkandawire, Thandika (2001). “Thinking About the Developmental States in Africa.” Cambridge Journal of Economics, Vol.. 25, No.3. 289-313.
  • Evans, Peter (2010). “Constructing the 21st Century Developmental State: Potentials and Pitfall” in O. Edigheji(2010) Constructing a Democratic Developmental State in South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC. Chapter 2.

Additional Readings:

  • Jimi Adesina, Yao Graham and Adebayo Olukoshi. 2006. “Introduction”. In Adesina et al Africa & Development, Challenges in the New Millennium: the NEPAD Debate. Zed Press
  • Saul, J. & Leys, C (1999). “Sub-Saharan Africa in Global Capitalism” Monthly Review, Vol. 51, Issue. 3.
  • Pender , J. (2003) “From 'Structural Adjustment' to 'Comprehensive Development Framework': Conditionality Transformed?” Third World Quarterly, Vol.22, No.3.
  • M Chossoduvsky (1997). The Globalization of Poverty: IMF and World Bank Policies in the Third World. London: Zed Press.
  • Ayittey, G (1990). “The End of African Socialism”, A paper presented at the Heritage Foundation, 24 January, `1990
  • B.J. Ndulu, S. A. O Connell, J. P. Azam, R. H. Bates, A. K. Fosu, J. W. Gunning and D. Njinkeu eds. (2008) The Political Economic of Growth in Africa 1960-2000: An Analytic Survey Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • R. Lensink, Structural Adjustment in Sub-Saharan Africa (1996).
  • Gunning, W. & Collier, P. (1999). “The IMF’s Role in Structural Adjustment.” The Economic Journal, Vo. 109, No.459.
  • Bond, P. (2006). “Neoliberalism in Sub-Saharan Africa: From Structural Adjustment to NEPAD in A. Saad-Filho & D. Johnston (eds.) Neoliberalism: Acritical Reader. Chapter 27. Pages 23-30
  • Stiglitz, J. (1999). “More Instrumentation and Broader Goals: Moving Towards the Post Washington Concensus.” World Insitute for Development Economics Reseach (WIDER)/ Review of political Economy, Vol. 19, No.1.  

Seminar 7: April 6 - Africa’s development in the 21st Century

Required Readings:

  • Chitonge, H (2015). Economic Growth and Development in Africa: Understanding Trends and Prospects. London: Routledge. Chapter 7 (Is Africa Rising? ).
  • Radelet, Steven (2010a). Emerging Africa: How 17 Countries Are Leading the Way. Washington D.C.,: Brookings Institution Press. Chapter 1.
  • Rowden, Robert (2013). “The Myth of Africa’s Rise” available online.
  • Ncube, Nthuli & Shimeles, Abe (2012). “The Making of the Middle Class in Africa.” African Tunis: African Development Bank

Additonal Readings:

  • Dulani, Boniface; Mattes, Robert & Logan, Carolyn (2013). “After a Decade of Growth in Africa, Little Change in Poverty at the Grassroot” Afro-Barometer Policy Brief No.1.
  • Mahajan, Vijay (2009). Africa Rising: How 900 Million Africa Consumers Offer More than You Think. New Jersey: Wharton School Publishing.
  • Fox, L., C. Haines, J.H. Munoz & A. Thomas (2013). “Africa’s Got Work to Do: Employment Prospects in the New Century.” IMF Working Paper.
  • African Development Bank (AfDB, 2013). Annual Development Effectiveness Review 2013: Towards Sustainable Growth for Africa. Available at accessed 23.10.13.
  • Wai, Zubairu (2002) “Whither African development? A Preparatory for an African Alternative Reformulation of the Concept of Development”
  • M Barratt Brown (1995), Africa’s Choices: After Thirty Years of the World Bank, London: Penguin.

Part II: Competing Development Theories

Seminar 8: April 13 - Origins of Capitalism

Required Readings:

  • Wood, E.M (1999 or 2002). The Origin of Capitalism. New York: Monthly Review Press. (Chapter 5: “The Agrarian Origin of Capitalism”)
  • Marx, K. and Engels, F. The Manifesto of the Communist Party (any edition)
  • Polanyi, Karl (1944). The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of our Times. Boston : Beacon Press. Chapter 4 

Additional Readings:

  • Wood. E.M. (on 150 years of the Communist Manifesto) New York: Monthly Review
  • De Soto, Hernando (2000). The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. London: Transworld.
  • Marx, K. Preface to Capital Volume One (any edition)
  • Heilbronner, R. (1972). The Worldly Philosophers (Simon and Shuster). Chapters 4-6).

Seminar 9: April 20 - Nature of Capitalism

Required Readings:

  • Hobson, J. (1967). Imperialism: A Study (Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press). Introduction by Siegelman; Chapters1 , pp 15-45.
  • Lenin, V. (1916). Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism – any edition. Chapters I, VII-X.
  • Smith, Adam(1968[1776]). The Wealth of Nations (Book 1, Chapter II & III)
  • Magdoff, H (interviewed by Huck Gutman). (2003). Capitalism as a World Economy. Monthly Review, Vol. 55, No. 4, September

Additional Readings:

  • Block, F. (2001). Introduction to Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, plus Chapter 6.
  • Marx, K. Preface to Capital Volume One (any edition)
  • Brown, V. (1996). “The Emergence of the Economy” in Hall, S. et. al. (eds.). Modernity (Oxford: Blackwell).
  • Polanyi, Karl (1944). The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of our Times. Boston : Beacon Press. Chapter 6.
  • Wood, E.M. (1995). Democracy Against Capitalism: Renewing Historical Materialism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (selected parts).
  • Luxemburg, Rosa (2003 [1913]). The Accumulation of Capital. New York: Routledge. Chapter 27.
  • Block, F. (2001). Introduction to Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation, plus Chapter 6.

Seminar 10: May 4 - The Development of Capitalism in Africa

Required Readings:

  • Alavi, H. “The Structure of Peripheral Capitalism” in H. Alavi & T. Shanin(eds.) Introduction to the Sociology of Development Societies. New York: Monthly Review Press. 172-194.
  • Saul, John & Leys, Colin (1999). “Sub-Saharan Africa in Global Capitalism”, Monthly Review, No. 51. Issue 3. 5-24.
  • ​Arrighi, Giovanni (2002). “The African Crisis: World Systemic & Regional Aspects.” New Left Review, May/June 2002. Pp, 7-36

Additional Readings:

  • Castells, M. (2001). The New global Economy. In Muller, J; Cloete, N and Badet, S. (eds.). Challenges of Globalisation: South African debates with Manuel Castells. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman
  • Samir Amin. (1994). Re-Reading the postwar Period: an Intellectual Itinerary. New York: Monthly Review Press
  • Smith, D. Charles (1989). “Did Colonialism Capture the Peasantry? A Case Study of the Kagera District, Tanzania.” Scandinavian Institute of African Studies, Research Report No. 83.
  • Hyden, Goran (1986). “The Anomaly of the African Peasantry.” Development and Change, Vol. 17. 677-705.

Seminar 11: May 11 - Competing Theories of Development in Africa

Required Readings:

  • Frank, A.G. (1972). “The Development of Underdevelopment”, in Cockroft, Frank and Johnson (eds.) Dependence and Underdevelopment pp 3-17 or in Monthly Review (18) 1966: pp. 17-31
  • Pieterse, J.N (2000): After Post-development. Third World Quarterly 21 (2), 175-191.
  • Rostow, W. W. (1960), Stages of Economic Development: A non communist manifesto, Cambridge: University Press.

Additional Readings:

  • Martinussen, J. (1997). Society, State and Markets: A Guide to Competing Theories of Development. (Chapter 4).
  • Harvey, D. (2000). “The Geography of the Manifesto”, in Spaces of Hope (University of California Press).
  • Gillian Hart ( various articles)
  • David Moore (2006) IMF and World Bank in Africa

Seminar 12: May 18 - Alternative Development Theories

Required Readings:

  • Samir Amin (2006) “The Bamako Appeal”
  • Samir Amin (2006). Beyond US Hegemony: Assessing the Prospects for a Multi-Polar World: Introduction (chapter 1) and Conclusion (Chapter 7).
  • Linkenbach, A. (1994): “Ecological Movements and the Critique of Development; Agents and Interpreters.” Thesis Eleven 36, 63-85.
  • Samir Amin (1990). Delinking: Towards a Polycentric World. London: Zed Book.

Additional Readings:

  • Gore, C. (2000): The rise and fall of the Washington consensus as a paradigm for developing countries. World Development 28(5), 789-804.
  • Stiglitz, J. (2002). Globalisation and Its Discontents pp. 53-88; 214-252
  • Fine, B. (1999): The developmental state is dead - long live social capital? Development and Change 30(1), 1-19.
  • Hart, G (2004). “Beyond Neoliberalism? Development Debates in Historical and Comparative Perspectives”
  • Pieterse, J. N. (1998): My Paradigm or Yours? Alternative Development, Post-development, Reflexive Development. Development and Change 29(2), 343-73.
  • Samir Amin (1990/2011). Maledevelopment: Anatomy of Global Failure. Cape Town: Pambazuka
  • Lehmann, D. (1997): An opportunity lost: Escobar's deconstruction of development. Journal of Development Studies V33(Apr. N4), 568-78.