Researching the politics of development



Dr Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai



Abdul-Gafaru is a lecturer at the Department of Public Administration, University of Ghana Business School. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at The University of Manchester. Within ESID he has produced a conceptual and methodological framework for comparative research into the politics of spatial inequality, contributing to ESID’s primary research within Programme Four – ‘The politics of recognition’.


Abdul-Gafaru’s research interests are the politics of development (as it relates in particular to the spatial dimensions of inequality, social protection and poverty reduction); extractive sector governance (specifically mining and oil) and its impact on social and economic development outcomes; democratisation, human rights and elections in Africa. For ESID, Abdul-Gafaru is leading a country study around the politics of Ghana’s mining industry as part of a wider comparative research project on natural resource governance in Ghana. He is also undertaking research on the roles of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Civil Society and Parliament in oil sector governance in Ghana.

ESID publications

Asante, K., Abdulai, A.-G. and Mohan, G. (2020). ‘The “new” institutional politics of Ghana’s hydrocarbon governance‘, ESID Working Paper No. 169. Manchester.

Abdulai, A.-G. and Mohan, G. (2019). ‘The politics of bureaucratic ‘pockets of effectiveness’: Insights from Ghana’s Ministry of Finance‘, ESID Working Paper No. 119. Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2019). ‘Rethinking elite commitment to social protection in Ghana: Insights from an adapted political settlements approach‘, ESID Working Paper No. 112. Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2018). ‘The political economy of maternal healthcare in Ghana‘, ESID Working Paper No. 107. Manchester.
Bebbington, M, Abdulai, A, Bebbington, D, Hinfelaar, M and Sanborn, C (2018) Governing Extractive Industries, Oxford University Press. Manchester.
Appiah, D. and Abdulai, A.-G. (2017). ‘Competitive clientelism and the politics of core public sector reform in Ghana‘, ESID Working Paper No. 82. Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2017). ‘Competitive clientelism and the political economy of mining in Ghana‘, ESID Working Paper No. 78. Manchester.
Bebbington, A. with Gafaru, A.-G., Hinfelaar, M., Humphreys Bebbington, D. and Sanborn, C. (2017). ‘Political settlements and the governance of extractive industry: A comparative analysis of the longue durée in Africa and Latin America’, ESID Working Paper No. 81. Manchester.
Hickey, S., A.-G. Abdulai, A. Izama and G. Mohan (2015). ‘The politics of governing oil effectively: A comparative study of two new oil-rich states in Africa‘, ESID Working Paper No. 54. Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. and D. Hulme (2014). ‘The politics of regional inequality in Ghana: state elites, donors and PRSPs‘, ESID Working Paper No. 41. Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. and S. Hickey (2014). ‘Rethinking the politics of development in Africa? How the ‘political settlement’ shapes resource allocation in Ghana‘. ESID Working Paper No. 38. Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2014). ‘Rethinking spatial inequality in development: the primacy of politics and power relations‘. ESID Working Paper No. 29. Manchester.
Abdulai, A-G. (2013). ‘The spatial politics of inclusive development: framing ESID research approach’, ESID Research Note No. 3. Manchester.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2014). ‘Civil society, Parliament and Oil Sector Governance in Ghana’. Paper prepared for the Ghana oil project.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2014). ‘The capacity and commitment of government agencies in governing oil: the case of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation’. Paper prepared for the Ghana oil project.

Other recent publications

Bebbington, M., Abdulai, A., Bebbington, D., Hinfelaar, M. and Sanborn, C. (2018). Governing Extractive Industries: Policies, Histories, Ideas. Oxford University Press.
Abdulai, A.-G. (2017). ‘The political economy of regional inequality in Ghana: Do political settlements matter?The European Journal of Development Research 29(1).
Mohan, G., Asante, K. P. and Abdulai, A.-G. (2017). ‘Party politics and the political economy of Ghana’s oil‘. New Political Economy 23(3).
‘Uneven regional development in Ghana: Does politics matter?’ Paper presented at the UNU-WIDER conference on ‘Inclusive Growth in Africa: Measurement, Causes, and Consequences’, September, 21-22, 2013 (Helsinki: United Nations University’s World Institute for Development Economics Research).
‘The politics of educational inequality in Ghana: from patronage to ruling coalitions?’, paper accepted for presentation at the American Political Science Association’s workshop on ‘Distributive Politics and Distributive Good’, Maputo, Mozambique, June 28-July 11, 2014.
‘The politics of social spending and spatial inequality in Ghana’. Paper accepted for presentation at the Seventh World Congress and Young African Scholars Program, the International Economic Association, Amman, Jordan, June 6-10, 2014.

Further information

Find Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai via the University of Ghana Business School website.
Listen to Abdul-Gafaru Abdulai discussing how politics affects oil governance in Ghana: