Document Type

Graduate Syllabus


Spring 2022



Course Number

DIPL 6704 NA

Course Description

Of the four major less developed regions in the world (East and South Asia, Latin America and Africa), Sub-Saharan Africa (hereafter SSA) has performed the worst economically since 1975. Why has this been the case? Explaining this poor economic development has occupied development theorists, aid agencies, international institutions and African governments and people alike. The focus is often on what has gone wrong; with little attention paid to the inherent strengths that African cultures and societies possess.

The purpose of this course is to examine the reasons advanced to explain the underdevelopment of Africa through a primarily political economy framework, as the African continent is testament to the fact that economic development is affected by political contexts. We will explore explanations that include history (the legacy of a colonial past); internal factors (neo-patrimonialism, poor leadership) and external factors (international assistance, neo-colonialism). We will also focus on what is working well, and the various ways in which African countries and leaders have negotiated with the outside world and sought to exercise their autonomy. In addition, given that Africa is a continent made up of specific countries, with different experiences, the course will also aim to make known some of these differences and variations across different regions and countries.