This project aims to deepen our understanding of the structural underpinnings of spatial inequality from a comparative perspective. It adopts a political settlements approach to investigate the role of politics and power relations in shaping policy reforms and public investment patterns, and how this shapes spatial development disparities in two sub-Saharan African countries.
Ghana and Uganda have been selected as case studies for this research, on the basis of their long histories of regional inequality along a North-South divide. The two countries also represent different types of political settlement in Levy’s (2012) terms, with Uganda experiencing a dominant party system, and Ghana, a competitive clientelist political environment. This distinction allows us to investigate whether different political settlement trajectories generate different prospects for redressing the problem of spatial inequality. Both countries have also implemented affirmative action programmes within their disadvantaged Northern regions – the Savannah Accelerated Development (SADA) in Ghana, and the Northern Ugandan Social Action Fund (NUSAF).
- How has the nature and type of political settlement shaped the political recognition and socio-economic entitlements experienced by disadvantaged northern regions over time?
- In what ways have the changing electoral dynamics in Ghana and Uganda contributed to shaping elite commitment and capacity towards a reduction of regional inequalities?
- Do the actual implementation of policies and programmes towards spatially inclusive development play out in different ways under dominant and competitive political settlements and across different policy domains? If so, what explains this?
- What roles do transnational factors and sub-national political dynamics play in shaping prospects for overcoming regional development disparities in these countries?
- What are the dominant and competing ideas in the formulation and actual implementation of policies aimed at redressing regional inequality in these countries?
Methods and research design
The research entails a three-stage analysis:
Stage 1: Tracking the historical evolution of political settlements.
Stage 2: Unpacking the current political settlement.
Stage 3: Analysing the spatial impact of national policies and regional investments over time.
Specifically, this will involve a focus on:
- national and sub-national analyses of political settlements relating to the evolution and persistence of regional inequality from a historical perspective;
- the political inclusion of regional elites within senior governmental and bureaucratic positions and the ruling coalition more broadly;
- regional social provisioning expenditure over time, with a focus on education;
- productive investments, focusing on the cotton and dairy sectors in Uganda, and the rice and cocoa sub-sectors in Ghana; and
- the politics of implementing specific targeted initiatives aimed at reducing regional inequalities (NUSAF in Uganda and SADA in Ghana).
We will combine qualitative and quantitative methods in undertaking this research, although with a greater role for the former. These will include analysis of existing quantitative data sets, archival research and documentary analysis, elite interviews with politicians, donorsand relevant civil society organisations, and focus group discussions with beneficiary communities.
How does this project fit within ESID’s research agenda?
The overall project falls within ESID’s politics of recognition research theme but also has cross-cutting relevance for ESID’s work on the politics of accumulation – through its focus on productive investments, and for ESID’s research into the politics of social provisioning – in relation to the focus on education.
|Lead Researcher||Dr Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai||The University of Ghana|
|Researcher||Dr Badru Bukenya||Makerere University, Uganda|
|Researcher||Professor William Muhumuza||Makerere University, Uganda|
Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai and David Hulme (October 2014). ‘The politics of regional inequality in Ghana: State elites, donors and PRSPs‘. ESID Working Paper 41.
Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai and Sam Hickey (September 2014). ‘Rethinking the politics of development in Africa? How the “political settlement” shapes resource allocation in Ghana‘. ESID Working Paper 38.
Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai (January 2014). ‘Rethinking spatial inequalities in development: The primacy of politics and power relations‘. ESID Working Paper 29.