This briefing explores why some states in Africa seem to be stuck in a spiral of corruption and institutional weakness, while others build effective bureaucracies that are able and willing to tackle the challenges of development. Drawing on research from ESID’s PSR project, it compares the public sector reforms of Ghana, Uganda and Rwanda during the period 2000-15. The three countries exhibit different kinds of political settlement, which makes for a useful comparison of how national-level politics filters the diffusion of transnational norms. This helps to build a more nuanced understanding of the varieties of state-building in Africa, and provides some policy implications for reformers.
Working paper 93
M. Niaz Asadullah and Antonio Savoia
While poverty reduction remains central in the Post-2015 Agenda, its determinants remain debated in the literature, especially the role of structural conditions related to governance. This paper provides an assessment of two key dimensions: the global adoption of MDGs and state capacity. We do so by studying whether they facilitated convergence in income poverty measures, using cross-section and panel methods, with data on 89 developing economies for the period 1990-2013. We find that poverty headcount and gap measures tended to decrease faster in countries with initially higher income poverty. Such convergence accelerated after 2000, suggesting that MDGs adoption was instrumental to poverty reduction. However, this still leaves unexplained substantial variation in poverty reduction performance across countries. Such variation is explained by state capacity: countries with greater ability to administer their territories in 1990 experienced faster income poverty reduction and were more likely to have achieved the MDG target. This result is insensitive to robust regression methods and to a large set of controls (initial level of income, dependence on natural resources, education and health inputs, dependence on foreign aid, ethnic fractionalisation, regional effects and a set of governance variables). As good governance and effective institutions are included in the Sustainable Development Goals, this result provides empirical justification for this move, suggesting that more effective states could be crucial to sustain the development progress achieved so far.
Working paper 92
An increasingly large literature on the empirics of economic growth has viewed it as an ‘episodic phenomenon’. In this paper, we re-evaluate the relationship between growth and economic institutions using an episodic framework, where the relevant units of empirical analysis are growth episodes. We use episodes identified in Kar et. al. (2013b) and quantify their success using a novel ‘measure’ termed as ‘episode magnitude’, adopted from Pritchett et al. (2016). In order to capture the multi-functionality of economic institutions, we use separate measures for property rights institutions, contractual institutions and state capacity. Using instrumental variable methods, we show that, together with human capital and level of development, higher institutional quality is also a significant factor that determines more successful growth episodes.
Working paper 91
Beatrix Allah-Mensah and Rhoda Osei-Afful
Although rightly lauded as one of the strongest democracies in Africa, it is striking that women do not have a political quota in Ghana, and that women’s rights have more often been handed down through the politics of patronage than achieved through civil society activism. This paper investigates the role of power and politics in influencing the adoption and implementation of gender equity policy in Ghana, focusing on two policy case studies: domestic violence; and girls’ basic education. The paper finds that although policy on girls’ basic education was easily adopted and implemented without any opposition, as it was considered a less ‘contentious’ issue, domestic violence policy faced significant opposition from religious and political groups. In response, the women’s movement adopted a highly strategic approach to swaying public opinion, focusing on religious and cultural leaders, marshalling support among local community groups, and making use of informal gatherings to raise awareness about the issue. However, framing domestic violence in such a way as to be non-threatening to existing gender norms and relations limited its transformative potential and contributed to implementation gaps. Policy implementation in competitive clientelist settings tends to be a highly personalised and political process, and with few political gains to be had from enacting domestic violence legislation, successive governments have failed to even present a plan for implementing the law. Both cases reveal the role of the political settlements in influencing policy-making on gender equity and point to the need to move beyond the influence of women’s presence in formal politics towards a deeper analysis of power and politics in shaping gender equity policy.
Working paper 90
Erol Taymaz and Kamil Yilmaz
In this paper, we analyse the industrial and trade policies in Turkey in relation to their impact on the automotive industry. Established during the import substituting industrialisation era of the 1960s and 1970s, the Turkish automotive industry had seized the opportunities opened up with the customs union agreement between Turkey and the EU that went into effect in 1996. As such, it provides a good example of how an industry with an initially protected home market can be transformed into a competitive and increasingly export-oriented industry through foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows.
In one of the important conclusions of our study, we emphasise the lack of a well-designed, long-term industrial development perspective in place, leading to the current state of the Turkish automotive industry. Rather, the automotive firms that performed well in recent decades did so thanks to their organisational capabilities and experience in international competition. Our analysis of export patterns shows that Turkey’s place in the international division of labour has been determined by the decisions of multinational firms. Motor vehicle manufacturers in Turkey were able to readjust their positions vis-à-vis European value chains by skillfully managing the benefits of geography (proximity to European markets) and the country’s metalworking capability. However, existing tax policies that rely heavily on indirect taxes have created significant obstacles for automotive firms, which in principle can move their production and R&D activities in Turkey towards high quality/high value-added segments of the industry.
Working paper 89
Why do some states in Africa seem to be stuck in a spiral of corruption and institutional weakness? Why do others somehow build effective bureaucracies that are able and willing to tackle the challenges of development? The public sector remains the inescapable anchor of development, whether for good or ill, but our understanding of the politics of public sector reform remains shackled by concepts that do not allow for variation or change over time. This paper presents a theoretical framework for understanding variations in public sector reform (PSR): centring the analysis on the intersection of power relations and ideas, the paper shows how the stability of a country’s elite settlement and the coherence of its developmental ideology interact with reform ideas in the PSR policy domain. This framework is explored through a structured-focused comparison of reform experiences in three Sub-Saharan African countries with different elite settlements: competitive Ghana; weakly dominant Uganda; and dominant Rwanda. In Ghana, where successive regimes have focused on political control for partisan purposes, it has been quick reforms compatible with top-down control that have achieved political traction. In Uganda, high-visibility reforms were introduced to secure donor funding, as long as they did not threaten the ruling coalition’s power. In Rwanda, lastly, the regime has fostered and protected various public sector reforms because it envisioned them as instruments for domestic legitimation as constituent elements of an impartial developmental state. In combination, policy domain, elite time horizons, and ideational fit allow us to move beyond blanket statements about isomorphic mimicry or neopatrimonialism, and towards a more nuanced understanding of the varieties of state-building in Africa.
Working paper 88
This paper’s objective is to provide a better understanding of the politics underpinning core public sector reforms (PSR) in Rwanda. It analyses five core public sector functions: government coordination; public finance management (focusing on budgeting and public procurement); civil service management; external audit; and anti-corruption policies. For each, it identifies the origins of reforms and analyses to what extent they led to change in both rules and practice. Overall, the paper argues that PSR has been successful and so strongly embraced because rulers considered an effective public sector as a crucial tool for their legitimation strategy, which was based on achieving rapid socio-economic progress and projecting an image of impartiality.
Working paper 87
This paper discusses the role of Kenya’s political settlement in the adoption and promotion of social protection, which has expanded significantly since 2003. Analysis focuses on the interplay between the domestic political settlement and external factors in shaping the social protection discourse and policy and provisioning outcomes.
Successive regimes in Kenya since 2003 supported social protection as part of their framing of the development discourse. There has been significant progress in developing the legislative and policy structures to support cash transfer provision, including a commitment in the 2010 constitution, together with an increasing fiscal commitment, largely donor supported, and a rapid expansion of cash transfer coverage. However, where the realisation of constitutional or legislative commitments would have a cost to the political settlement, disturbing clientelist relationships, less progress has taken place, as illustrated by the failure of the proposed National Social Health Insurance Fund. Implementation of social protection policy and provision has been managed in such a way that the clientelism at the centre of the political settlement is not disturbed.
The extent to which the political settlement ultimately shapes social protection outcomes is also a function of the preferences and incentives of the donor community and it is the convergence of the requirements of the political settlement with donor interests that has driven the successful provision of social assistance, whereas the lack of convergence has hindered the development of social health insurance. Initially a donor-led agenda, cash transfer provision has become increasingly popular politically, as politicians have realised its potential as an additional constituency-level patronage resource, which they have successfully co-opted in recent years, resulting in the paradox that improved, and largely externally financed, social protection performance is intrinsically linked to the entrenchment of the existing political settlement.
The paper concludes that the social protection agenda in Kenya is defined by the extent of accommodation between the underlying clientelist interests of political actors and the aspirations of external actors.
Working paper 86
Why has Bangladesh failed to raise quality in basic education when it successfully expanded school provision? This paper explores this problem through analysis of the influence of the political settlement on the design and delivery of the third Primary Education Development Programme (PEDP3), an US$8bn education reform plan. From document review, key informant interviews and comparative case study analysis of teacher motivations and performance, it concludes that the elite consensus on the need for basic mass education runs out when it comes to raising education standards: teachers are politically important, so reforms are more carrot than stick – in the form of training, increments, new entitlements. The centralised administration and its weak incentives to enforce unpopular reforms ensure discretion at the frontline/school level, so teacher performance depends ultimately on their inherent motivations. But the past generation has seen these motivations decline with the changing sociology of the teaching profession: teachers are less respected, relatively less well-paid and more often women (who have lower social status and more demands on their time), while the average public school pupil is ‘harder to reach and harder to teach’. Education quality is improving, but incrementally, in line with a political economy that has generated positive incentives for teachers, without holding them more accountable for their performance.