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  • Rethinking Development Strategies in Africa: The Triple Partnership as an Alternative Approach—A Case of Uganda
  • E. Ike Udogu
Makoba, Johnson W. 2011. Rethinking Development Strategies in Africa: The Triple Partnership as an Alternative Approach—A Case of Uganda. Oxford and New York: Peter Lang. 269 pp. $46.47 (paper).

As the author has underscored, his book is the outcome of a thirty-year research effort (p. ix). The book outlines an alternative template and trajectory for African development in light of the continent's difficulties in addressing the growth program critical for assailing the issue of Africa's underdevelopment since the start of self-rule. It is made up of six chapters, a list of acronyms and abbreviations, an impressive bibliography, and an index.

Chapters one, "Development Strategies in Africa: An Assessment," and two, "Economic Reforms in Uganda 1986," provide readers with snapshots of the superstructure of the argumentations in the text. Both chapters suggest that collaboration between the trinity of state (investment), foreign aid, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and microfinance institutions (MFIs) could catapult the continent to greater heights developmentally. Conversely, the author states emphatically that: "in this study, we argue that the state, nongovernmental organizations[,] and even the private sector, each working on its own and separately, cannot bring about the desired development in Africa" (p. 2). It is around the discourses on the preceding suppositions that the chapters of this book can be fully comprehended. In the first chapter, Makoba insists that the invention and participation of MFIs, in Africa's development agenda, is a sine qua non because MFIs work between the state and the market to bring succor to destitute and marginalized social groups. Additionally, he contends, the success of MFIs in the development project flows from the assumption that a bottom-up approach to growth has consistently depicted its superiority in fostering economic and social change [End Page 139] (p. 6). To buttress this thread of his argument, Makoba berates the state as irrelevant within the context of neoclassical economic practice. This is the case because most states in Africa are inefficient in allocating resources, partly because of corruption (pp. 7-8). This development invokes a peculiar syllogism, in which the state is the market, and the market is the state; thus, the state cannot encourage robust private entrepreneurship. He agrees, however, with Amartya Sen's proposition that, to advance a development agenda, the state and the market, though they should operate separately, should nevertheless work symbiotically, backing each other up (p. 13). Since the template that relegates authority to the state as an engine for development has not worked effectively, microfinance institutions should serve as a significant tier in an economic growth plan. Their benefit is that they have a track record of attracting the poor into the economy by providing financial services such as credit, savings, and insurance (p. 16). Chapter one provides a synopsis of each chapter in the text, blow by blow (pp. 41-45).

Chapter two examines the economic policy and fundamental restructurings embarked upon by Uganda since the mid-1980s. These regimes aimed at advancing economic revival, development, and poverty reduction were dictated by a neoliberal paradigm (p. 47). The preceding economic strategies (imposed mainly by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund) for improving the development agenda in Uganda, as in other African countries, were not efficacious. Indeed, plan after plan—as in "strategic-adjustment plan," "economic-recovery program," "poverty-eradication action plan," and so forth—that sought to tackle the development quagmire in Uganda failed to address the problem of development (pp. 54-56). Even a more contemporary attempt by the country under the National Development Plan of 2010-2015 appears moribund, partly because of poor management (pp. 57-78). Unfortunately, not even the discovery of oil in Uganda (as in Ghana, the Sudan, and elsewhere) is likely to exculpate the country from its current economic quandary. Notionally, this fortune is referred to paradoxically as the "resources-curse hypothesis"; it is a theory that "predicts that resource-rich countries are likely to fail," especially in the developing world, because abundant resources promote indolence, rent seeking, conflict between competing groups (as in the...


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