The Political Economy of Peacebuilding in Africa

This project proposes a different and new lens through which to consider developmental transformation in post-conflict societies: developmental post-conflict reconstruction. It does so by examining peacebuilding, post-conflict reconstruction and developmental statehood with particular focus on the interaction between the state and the private sector in addressing economic development in the aftermath of conflict. This is novel as despite widely acclaimed developmental success alongside security challenges in the developmental states of East Asia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan over three decades from the 1960s (1930s for Japan) there is limited analysis of transferable lessons to the Global South (example: Barbara, 2008). It is also timely as the proposed post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals suggest a stronger role for industrialization in developmental pursuits, which is very much in line with the Developmental State Paradigm (DSP).

This research strand builds on the Outliers in Peacebuilding research theme, by utilising a non-mainstream examination of peacebuilding as a lens through which to interrogate dominant contemporary approaches such as liberal peacebuilding. It also contributes to the Peacebuilding operational and policy spaces in Africa research theme with reflection on contemporary reconstruction experiences that draw on liberal peacebuilding through structured interventions.

This project responds to four distinct research questions:

  1.  How significant are state-private sector interactions to historical and contemporary understandings of post-conflict reconstruction in Africa?
  2. What is the developmental legacy of post-conflict reconstruction in conceptual and policy terms in Africa?
  3. How significant is the ‘centrality’ of structural transformation of the economy to post-conflict reconstruction across time?
  4. What has influenced the choice and utility of post-conflict reconstruction and developmental policy frameworks and how have these impacted on developmental processes and outcomes?

The project proceeds with two identifiable approaches to post-conflict reconstruction in Africa. The first one draws on the conceptual framing and analysis of empirical experiences of reconstruction in post-colonial/post-independence Africa within the context of a strong role for the state in development and dominance of development planning as a policy tool as with the Biafran war (Second National Development Plan 1970-1975). We also analyse efforts towards developmental transformation through development planning in the aftermath of the Mau Mau uprisings in Kenya (First National Development Plan 1965/66-1969/70- revised). There was emphasis on a strong role for the state alongside engagement with the private sector (with vibrant participation from foreign capital) as part of a wider development planning process.

The second one draws on empirical experiences in the post-structural adjustment period within the context of mainstream arguments for the reduced role for the state in development in the early responses to the present-day conflicts in the Niger Delta (2009), Boko Haram- affected North Eastern Nigeria (2014-) and Post-Election violence in Kenya (2007). This second approach is most clearly identifiable as reconstruction within the liberal peacebuilding framework as exemplified by the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Commission (Olonisakin and Ikpe, 2012). These approaches are emblematic of Moore’s (2007:12) suggestion that post-conflict reconstruction is caught ‘in tensions between neoliberal and more interventionist visions of development in general.’ This project investigates the implications of these tensions on the conceptual development and practice of post-conflict reconstruction. In doing so it contributes to providing new guidance to policy and practice where current approaches fall short.

Contact us

Nairobi Office:
Jacaranda Avenue PO BOX 25742, 00603, Nairobi
Phone : +254 020 3870225 / +254 0789 387225

London Office:
School of Global Affairs,
Chesham Building, Room 12B
King's College London, Strand Campus Strand, London WC2R 2LS
Phone: +44 20 7848 1984


Follow us

Partner Institutions