Africa's Incomplete Cycles of Development

by Kenneth Mahuni (Author) Josiah Taru (Author) Wellington G. Bonga (Author)
©2020 Monographs XXVI, 188 Pages
Series: Africa in the Global Space, Volume 1


Juxtaposing qualitative as well as quantitative facts across the broader African continent, the authors explore critical issues compounding developmental woes of the continent at the present. Despite the facts being on the fringes as explanations to the sluggish development of Africa, the authors show how they interact in shaping its development discourse. The authors also study unfolding events on the unforgiving global economy which have added to the misery of the continent. This book is an enthralling account which interrogates Africa’s present realities and how they interplay to further stagnate the continent. The authors add a new voice to issues affecting development by venturing into largely unexplored niches of Africa’s development conundrum.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover Page
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • Dedication
  • About the Book
  • About the Author
  • Epigraph
  • Table of Contents
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1. Will Africa Ever Catch Up with the Rest of the World?
  • Where Are the Majority? Positioning Africa
  • Urbanization
  • Demography
  • Industrialization and Machine Revolution
  • Attempting to Develop: The Desire to Join the Majority
  • Prospects and Challenges of Contemporary Africa
  • References
  • Chapter 2. Perspectives on Development
  • Conceptualizing Development
  • Development Trajectories and Approaches
  • Africa and the Development Discourse
  • Cycles of Development of Countries in Africa
  • The Challenge of Classifying the Countries into the Respective Cycles
  • References
  • Chapter 3. Underdevelopment of Africa in the Present: The Links
  • Pioneer Post-Colonial States and the Development Trajectory
  • Seeing the Light and Hiding the Light
  • Language Diversity—A Lethal Weapon
  • Importance of Language in Development and Language Diversity
  • The Unforgiving Global Economy
  • Global Developments, Sources of Deep Trouble for Africa
  • References
  • Chapter 4. Afrocentric Barriers in Contemporary Times
  • The Colonialism Legacy
  • Political Independence, Without Economic Independence
  • Electioneering Mode
  • Election Issues in Africa
  • Religion and Development in Africa
  • Chinese Deals with Africa in the 21st Century: Investments or Exploitations?
  • References
  • Chapter 5. Regionalism and Development in Africa
  • Key Regional Groupings in Africa
  • Overview of Regional Blocs in the Continent: Milestones and Inadequacies
  • Regionalism Synthesis
  • Major Issues Militating Against Integration in Africa
  • International Cooperation: Africa and the World
  • References
  • Chapter 6. Is Africa Ready for Business?
  • An Overview of Africa Free Trade Zone (AFTZ) Member States
  • Ease of Doing Business Concept
  • Empirical Analysis of Ease of Doing Business for AFTZ Member States
  • Discussion of Results
  • AFTZ Study Outcomes and the Probable Development Discourse of Africa
  • The Sticking Issues on Ease of Doing Business
  • References
  • Chapter 7. Laying the Foundation, Going Forward
  • Rolling Out the “Red Tape” and Rolling on the “Red Carpet”
  • What to Do with the Corruption?
  • Impact Investment, Beyond Traditional Investment
  • Impact Investment and Africa
  • Challenges in Implementing Impact Investment in Africa
  • Industrial Cluster Strategy: Embracing Globalised and Outward Looking Models, Towards Industrialisation of Africa
  • Industrial Cluster Concept
  • Development from Below
  • References
  • Chapter 8. Conclusion
  • Realizing a Future for Africa
  • Index

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Africa continues to swim in a sea of unprecedented challenges which continue to militate against the continent’s smooth progress. Despite the fact that the continent’s leadership is now considered to be in the driving seat in terms of dictating its development trajectory, the continent and its leadership still has got a long way to go in order for it to fully unleash and realize its development potential as correctly highlighted by the authors of this pioneering book. Going back to as early as the 1940s and 1950s the story of Africa’s underdevelopment has been told by several scholars notably early ones like Walter Rodney and most recently Dambisa Moyo—the latter in a powerful book which has forced some constituencies to rethink the efficacy of some of Africa’s development strategies whilst at the same time ruffling many feathers especially amongst leading development practitioners and members of the donor community. The authors of this book have added a new and insightful dimension and explanations to the causes behind Africa’s sluggish development pace.

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The academic diversity of the authors makes the book unique. The total sum of their experiences and skills amassed over the years coupled with a powerful sense of observation of the development environment across the broad spectrum of the continent over the years equipped them with a paraphernalia of tools to intricately weave a vivid narrative of the sorry state of Africa’s development affairs. Indeed in Africa’s Incomplete Cycles of Development as you flip through the pages, the reader can sense that the authors are emotionally attached to the development story of their mother continent. Throughout the text, the authors continuously ask the reader, ‘If Africa’s time is not now, then when?’ Obviously they are referring to nothing other than the development of Africa, their mother continent. This question they pause also makes the reader wonder if ever there shall be a time period in which we will one day talk of a progressive and developed Africa.

A very commendable aspect of the book is that the authors, throughout show a profound and deep knowledge of Africa, the environment from which they launch their narrative. As such the book is laced with witty metaphors, which besides adding humour to the text, they also help to open the eyes of the reader to the socio-political, institutional and economic dynamics of contemporary Africa, in particular how they all interplay to shape Africa’s development trajectory. For instance, the authors tackle what they term ‘electioneering mode’ in the domain of African politics in which they take the reader through a number of issues which have a close link to electioneering mode, specifically how these have become and will remain a nemesis to the continent’s good governance and its effective development for a long period to come.

The authors also correctly observed that the attainment of political independence was supposed to be viewed as synonymous to seeing light, light that was supposed to shine to everyone. As such African states which were pioneers of independence were supposed to be the flagship of the continent’s transformation. But the reality on the ground turned to be the opposite. However, no hope is lost, according to the authors. Africa can turn a leaf from its current state of affairs. The authors are very positive of a better Africa if some of the pertinent challenges raised in the book are religiously addressed by current crop of leaders emerging on the continent.

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To conclude, this book is a masterpiece coming from a generation of millennials punching above their weight, who are very much concerned by their continent’s current poor state of development and have a deep understanding of what needs to be done for it to achieve the desired transformation. Not only do they bring to the fore contemporary issues besetting the continent, but they also see hope. In their words, ‘There is hope for Africa and for that matter, plenty of it.’ This makes the book a very insightful and useful piece to both those interested in understanding Africa’s past, present and future development trajectory in particular and students of development studies in general!

Dr. T Mumvuma

Department of Economics

University of Zimbabwe

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Our interest in seeing things done differently in African nation-states sparked the conversation on ‘what needs to be done’ by and for Africans to enjoy the same lifestyle and the fruits of development that are enjoyed in other parts of the globe. As we followed current affairs on Africa, we got the conviction that we need to understand and explain what is happening in African states that stifles development. We sought answers for the following questions: what has got Africa to where it is today? Who is to blame for Africa’s current woes and regression? What can be done to change Africa’s vicissitudes? Is prosperity attainable in the near future? Colonialism can no longer suffice alone as a scapegoat to point a finger at for our stagnation. Greater parts of the continent are now enjoying a modicum of peace. To this end we sought to give both historical events and current obtaining situations that explain our circumstances. As we searched for explanations, initially we thought of writing a discussion paper giving an overview of the challenges that constrain Africa’s development processes. The proposed article and discussion paper never saw the light of day, but conversations and discussions around the issue continued for long.

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After nearly three years of scanning the development landscape of our beloved continent, we mooted an idea of coming up with a book that captures the current state of Africa’s development processes. Several discussions and debates drew us closer and closer to the idea of putting together insights and ideas that we had agreed on. Despite several overlapping ideas and lines of thought, we never quite jellied together on the approaches, methodologies and scope of the book. This was due to differences in academic fields and disciplines. Kenneth and Wellington’s economics background made them opt for macro-level analysis in which huge chunks of economic statistics and quantitative data were handy in explaining and elucidating the state of development across Africa. On the other hand, Josiah opined that micro-level and localized everyday economic practice of people must be the focus of the book. Concomitantly, qualitative and ethnography were Josiah’s chosen approaches against quantitative national data sets that Wellington and Kenneth proposed. We worked out our disciplinary differences and took the middle of the road approach in which we triangulated our approaches firstly as a way of adding rigour to our analysis and of capturing different facets of the development trajectory in Africa. Secondly, triangulation allowed us to find common ground, and to look at the poverty of our chosen and disciplinary methods and approaches.

Putting together a rich and well thought manuscript, is not so easy a task. The process is taxing and draining, intellectually, emotionally, financially and in terms of time that is expended doing background research, in libraries and sitting before a computer. The process requires a lot of rethinking and intellectual analysis together with concept binding and linkages. The writing up process was further complicated by several issues and factors. The geographical distance that separated the three of us as authors had its toll on us. Much of the coordination and discussions were done through emails and numerous telephonic conversations, kudos to this age of technology we now live in! As this was not enough, there were a host of other commitments that equally demanded the time and attention of the authors. Work, personal and family commitments were drawbacks that we had to incessantly deal with as we gingerly tied together pieces of this book. Wellington worked through the book as he traversed the breadth and length of Zimbabwe on work assignments. The same can equally be said for Kenneth as he burnt the middle-night oil, putting hours after hours sifting through documents, revising and adding pages to our project. His work took him away from home several times during the writing up process. Josiah had to juggle and balance between work, studies and this project. We persevered and at the end we managed to give our best and produce this book.

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Africa’s Incomplete Cycles of Development is a book that seeks to add a voice to growing concerns over Africa’s prolonged stagnation which is not showing much signs of improvement. Pre-independence Africa was stuck in the mud, weighed down by the colonial yoke. Hope of a better continent was neither here nor there. Sadly however, post-colonial Africa is trying to transform the continent, albeit at a lacklustre pace. Fresh challenges keep on mounting, further complicating the transformation process. We explain a number of these challenges. For instance, in the book we explain how the residual economies most African states inherited gradually became an albatross to the development process of the continent. Instead of upgrading and revamping the residual economies to address demands of modern day Africa, greed was allowed to take precedence, hence most economies were run down dislocating the development process.

On the other hand, elections, ought to be an insignia of progression of a society as they give people unfettered access to leaders of their own choice which then outlines the roadmap of progress or demise of their nation state. A closer look at electoral processes in the continent will unearth interesting developments. A thorough exegesis of most of these will point to a development train slowly coming to a halt. A grinding halt! Not to be outdone on the global stage is China. Her ‘invasion’ of nearly every corner of the global village has brought interesting outcomes to the development discourse of Africa also, the book examines this. Not only do we show the numerous links to the continent’s regression and underdevelopment in contemporary times, we also proffer a solution set befitting to the current problems. We construct strong arguments from the perspective of inhabitants who not only live and experience happenings in the continent but also have livelihoods which are affected directly on a day to day basis. In a nutshell, this text addresses the basic concepts of economics governing Africa’s development or lack thereof. It is a combined product of our experiences. Leveraging off these experiences informed key themes of the book.

Hopefully, this book will raise the level of awareness among the general public, academic institutions, policy makers, development institutes, among others. The book will offer answers to many development and economic growth questions that have remained unanswered before or whose answers have failed to stand the path. The beneficiaries of the project will be all of us—ourselves, our children, our beloved ones, our societies and the continent as a whole—who will live to see a better Africa.

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We hope this book is widely read and referenced for a better Africa. Many books have been written to help educate others about development and prosperity. This book is not designed to be exhaustive in its coverage of issues underpinning Africa’s growth aspirations, but has in its ability managed to explore the uneasy areas worth addressed, areas that have remained in the fringes and areas that require greater concern for the betterment of Africa. Assured, in this project is the depth of analysis and areas covered together with identified solutions to contemporary Africa’s problems.


XXVI, 188
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2020 (November)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2020. XXVI, 188 pp., 1 b/w ill., 2 tables.

Biographical notes

Kenneth Mahuni (Author) Josiah Taru (Author) Wellington G. Bonga (Author)

Kenneth Mahuni is a winner of the newly instituted Amartya Sen Prize 2020 courtesy of the International Economic Association (IEA). He has a Master’s Degree in International Trade and Policy from South Korea and is an independent researcher. He has published research papers in journals focusing on economic issues such as industrial clusters and international trade. This is his first major book contribution and was largely inspired by experiences in visiting countries such as South Korea, India, Malaysia, Tanzania, Botswana among others. Josiah Taru is an anthropologist working in Zimbabwe. His research focuses on the intersection of Pentecostalism, money, wealth, and everyday lives in post-colonial Zimbabwe. Wellington G. Bonga is a researcher in the areas of development, finance, taxation, and social aspects. He has more than fifty research papers published in international journals. He holds a PhD in Economics from Atlantic International University, a MCom Finance from Great Zimbabwe University, a MSc Economics from University of Zimbabwe, a Master of Business Administration from Zimbabwe Open University, a BSc (Hons) Economics degree from University of Zimbabwe, and a Certificate in Practical Labour Law from Cape Town University.


Title: Africa's Incomplete Cycles of Development
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