Introduction: The 1990s represent a period of electoral pressures for mostSub-Saharan African countries as governments faced external influences forpolitical liberalization but also waves of domestic mobilization and proteststo demand a better economy, accountable and transparent governancelegitimatized through competitive elections (Edie 2003, Bratton and van deWalle, 1992). The extent to which, it has improved the democratic record,responded to local demands, lead to change of regimes, and sound macroeconomicpolicies varies from one country to another is subject to debate in theliterature (Edie 2003). This essay willexamine two indicators, first economic and second political liberalization as conditionalfor foreign aid particularly Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) todemonstrate that electoral pressures of the post-1990 period have not reshapedthe economic policies pursued by African government. It will thencontend that while the effectiveness of electoral pressures are questionable interm of outcome for economic policies; it is Structural Adjustments Programsthat reshaped economic policies implemented in most Sub-Saharan Africancountries. In respect to economic policies, the pre- and post-1990 periods willbe approached as three distinct phases, the state-led developmentalism, theSAPs and the globalization era (Cheeseman 2013) to display the turning point for Ghana and Tanzania. In this context, electoral pressure is defined as “theconsequences of increasing contestation within ruling/outside coalitions aswell as their vulnerability in power, making it harder for ruling elites tolook beyond their immediate political survival”(Whitfield 2015, p.
95). In termsof major actors, internal pressure came from critical social groups demands andexternal pressure from the international community donors for SAPs, werecritical for reforms on the political front and pushing for competitive, multi-partyelection (Edie 2003). Economic policies in this analysis look at the role ofthe state in handling fiscal and monetary aspect of macroeconomic policy as it “determinegovernment decisions to invest in infrastructure, education and many otheraspect of development” including sectorial policies.
(The World Bank, 2014).State-leddevelopmentalism in Africa: 1960s and 1970s As Cheeseman claims”post-independence economic policy in most African countries followed a patternthat can generally be divided into three phases: progression from state-leddevelopmentalism to crisis (independence through the 1970s); structuraladjustment and stagnation (1980s and early 1990s); and the era of globalizationand ‘partnership’ (from the mid-1990s)” (Cheeseman 2013. Pg295). These phases areto be examined in the context of Tanzania and Ghana to demonstrate patterns ofchange.
During thepostcolonial decade, the implication of the state was quite natural in planningeconomic development strategies and coordinating state building, as the privatesector was weak, social front fragmented, most public institutions were fragileand economies based on rural and agrarian production and dependent on primarycommodity exports (Cheeseman 2013). It was imperative for postcolonial state toelaborate ‘development’ policies responsive to socioeconomic realitiesaccumulated since colonization to diversify economies, preserve social orderand political stability. State-led developmentalism in Sub-Sahara Africa was the pathfollowed for development initiatives, particularly in Ghana and Tanzania. Therationality for this approach was to emphasize state planning as ideology tocentralize political power in policymaking initiatives, investments, andmonopoly over resources management. Indeed, it was also a step to promotenational interests through rapid development and economic growth correspondingwith the dominant policy paradigm through the 1960s particularly for “the stateto lead a ‘big push’ to get industrial growth to the point where it could beself-sustaining” (Cheeseman 2013, p.296). Thus, there was The state played a key role in directing andfostering As Healey said, the statist policies directly shaped macroeconomic targetsthrough public investments in physical infrastructure, and social servicesparticularly education and health, the development of manufacturing sector, andthe promotion of rural development (Healey). Throughout post-independence, mostSub-Saharan countries remained agricultural economies that employed a largesegment of the active population producing various food crops and cash cropsfor trade revenues.
The agricultural sector was a major priority forpostcolonial state economic policy in price setting and production targets butalso for a shift from small-scale agriculture to increase production. The challengefor post-colonial regime was in securing the capital necessary to finance large-scaleprojects and to accelerate the realization of macroeconomic development plans.As state intervention directed the economicagenda and regulated fiscal policies during Kwame Nkrumah’s administration, domesticcapital from “cocoa surplus, tax revenues, and low prices paid to farmers” weremajor alternatives to support investment for some projects in “industry, agriculture,and social infrastructures” to boost social and economic development (Hutchful 1987,pg7). Those major sectors were prioritized at the will of the Ghanaian rulingelites as it represented the backbone of their development strategy aiming tochampion for economic transformation moving from commodity dependency toward self-sufficiency.
In respect to sectorial policy, education remains one of the main prioritiesfor Nkrumah’s economic policies, which led to public subventions for “the introductionof fee-free elementary education, teacher training, and university education,free textbooks among others”(Biney). In Tanzania, under the nationalist leaderJulius Nyerere rule, there was a substantial involvement of the state inproviding subsidies in education, invest capital for light industries, as wellas agricultural and rural development. One of the central pillars of hisadministration project focused on agricultural policy under the Ujamaa villageprogramme to modernize and expand production capacity while improving ruralstandard of living. There were significant state investments in the “form ofinfrastructures for locals with water supply programme, agricultural equipment,and rural health centre and primary schools access” (Hydent, pg 65).
Structural Adjustment programmes in Africa: 1980s and 1990s The economic crisisthat struck Africa in the 1980s had both long-term and short terms causes. Thelong-term causes were the decline in world commodity prices, poor economic management,corruption and clientelism and over-reliance on rainfall for agriculturalproduction. The most immediate causes were the two oil price hikes by the OPEC,increasing oil prices by four-fold in 1974 and more than doubling it in 1979.Finding themselves in a tight and desperate situation, African countries soughtfinancial assistance from the World Bank and the IMF, mainly because they couldnot get assistance from elsewhere. In addition, the failure of the state-leddevelopmentalism policies particularly the Import SubstitutionIndustrialization was a sign that economic reforms were necessary to fixed thelimits of in transforming the structure of the economy.
The basic philosophyguiding the policy of the World Bank and the IMF lending agenda to Africancountries was that they would have to adopt the SAPs. The economic dimensionsof SAPs led to cuts in government spending, removal of import controls,devaluation of currencies, tight-fisted control of money supply, andprivatization of state-owned enterprises. For the political dimensions of SAPs,the introduction of multi-party democracy, decentralization of government wassome of the main conditions.Globalizationera in Africa: 2000s The neoliberal economic policies pursued in Ghana and Tanzania in themid-1980s under the SAPs has not solved the development challenges particularlyin reducing poverty and inequality levels, as social welfare took unprecedentedcuts in terms of government subsidies.
As Edie mentioned “neoliberal economicpolicies led to the gradual withdrawal of subsidies on food and other vitalcommodities” and also to the introduction of fees in public education andhealth. This gradual withdrawal of subsidies had long-term consequences on thepeople standards of livings and incomes particularly in urban areas and alsofor public service access in the rural areas. Despite the social cost of SAPs,African governments have not abandoned it, however, there has been adaptationto fit a social aspect under the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP). Conclusion: The 1990s in Sub-Saharan African countriesmarked a period toward electoral pressures and a gradual return to multi-partyelection to respond to domestic needs for better economic management andpolitical inclusion as well as external condition for foreign aid. Yet, itremains questionable whether that shift has qualitatively improved the lives ofthe mass through sound economic policies, better political institutions or reducedpoverty. The case of Ghana and Tanzania were used to demonstrate that electoralpressures of the post-1990 period did not have a major impact in reshapingeconomic policies pursued by African governments. However in respect toeconomic and political liberalization, the change in development policyparadigm across time, and space particularly during the SAPs era was a shiftthat reshaped economic policies pursued by African governments. The postcolonial era demonstrated the kind ofeconomic policies implemented, and the shift during the dual liberalization eraand the continuation in the emerging era as other alternative such as Chinawill impact the trajectories on the economic front.
Despite the varieties ofexperience with electoral pressures, there has been uneven progress andachievements but it remain in question whether the rise of China, its influenceas alternative sources of foreign aid will dramatically shift economic policiesand if so, whether the type of conditionality that will be emphasized.