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The Political Economy of Decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa: A New Implementation Model in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal

by Bernard Dafflon Thierry Madiès

For the past two decades, experiments in decentralization and federalization havebeen developing in Africa, Asia, and the formerly communist states of EasternEurope. Many of the powers previously in the hands of the central governmentor its deconcentrated structures have been transferred to lower government layers. Additionally, local governments are gradually emerging as development actors. Whatever the reasons for decentralization, the transfer of new functions to localgovernments can be substantive, at least in intent. The Political Economy of Decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa offers a newpolicy-oriented implementation model, applied systematically in parallel in BurkinaFaso, Ghana, Kenya, and Senegal. The book studies the individual countries andcompares similar issues based on the same blueprint. The analysis is not intendedto assess whether the chosen decentralization model is the right one, which doesnot exist. Rather, it examines decentralization achievements in specific nationalsettings and compares those achievements with the announced objectives. Thedivergences revealed enable decision makers to choose appropriate directionsfor country reform. This method does not transpose textbook solutions to the states. The referenceframework offers an analytical approach contextualized to each country thatintegrates not only economic arguments, but also sociopolitical ones. The authorspropose an analytical guide founded on political and institutional economy. Theyanalyze decentralized policies that help stakeholders to identify the issues, pointout stumbling blocks, and ensure coherent decisions on decentralization. The bookis an asset to all those involved in negotiating and implementing approaches todecentralization.

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