Millions of dollars have been spent on programmes to make private enterprise work in Africa like it does in the US, elections work like in France, audit authorities like in Germany and civil society campaigns like in the Netherlands – with results that have been mixed at best.
As presently constituted, ‘good governance’ and most associated donor programmes are ideological, not evidence-based. They make do with generalised notions of what is right, paying little attention to context, relationships and trade-offs. Tired anecdotes are regularly recycled to show that current efforts are on the right track, while relevant findings from serious research and practical experience are ignored.
The Africa Power and Politics Programme is working to change all that. It is building up a solid evidence base and robust arguments about what works in context in Africa and what doesn’t – challenging in the process assumptions that are influential among leaders and intellectuals in Africa as well as among campaigning and assistance organisations in the North.
Some of the interim results of this work are brought together in the March 2011 issue of the IDS Bulletin. This public seminar will launch the Bulletin, with presentations by the co-editors. It provides an opportunity for those with an active interest in African governance issues to debate APPP’s diagnosis and findings, share related ideas and consider the way forward.