Capitalism in Africa - ROAPE
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Capitalism in Africa

  • Exposing the illusion of the green economy, Simone Claar argues that while the idea of greening capitalism might provide a clear conscience to regions in the North for addressing the ecological crisis, it perpetuates the exploitative relationship between the North and South. Through the green economy framework capitalism, development, and imperialism are ‘green-washed’ as capital invests in new environmental fields like renewable energy or clean cooking. Such a strategy will only ‘greenwash’ capitalism in Africa, leaving its exploitative and destructive nature unchanged. By Simone Claar Our planet is changing. Droughts, melting ice, heat waves, and floods are affecting the lives of millions of people across the world. African economies are among the most vulnerable in the developing world to the direct and indirect effects of climate change due in significant part to their geographical location and limited economic ability to address the impacts of extreme......

  • Jörg Wiegratz asks why there is such silence in much of African Studies on capitalism. He wonders why capitalism does not feature more prominently in titles of major Western conferences on Africa, and articles of main African Studies journals. In this blogpost he asks why does this analytical lacuna exist? Wiegratz calls for a discussion and explanation of this state of affairs. On the central question of capitalism, the African Studies community, he argues, in Western Europe, and across the Global North, is largely inactive and silent? When it comes to an explicit, focused and sustained collective exploration, about the many, multifaceted features of contemporary capitalism on the continent, and about the characteristics of African society as a capitalist society, there is a gaping silence.  By Jörg Wiegratz Imagine an interested critical undergraduate student living in Berlin who has never engaged with what we call......

  • In a major contribution to roape.net, Zsuzsánna Biedermann analyses the complex reasons behind the largely fruitless diversification efforts in Botswana. Many African countries abundant in non-renewable natural resources experience the harmful effects associated with the extensive role oil, mining or gas extraction plays in their economies. Even if Botswana’s initial development based on diamond mining was spectacular, there is mounting proof that the Botswana Democratic Party - the country’s governing party since independence – has been deeply intertwined with the De Beers diamond mining cartel. Development, industrialisation and diversification remains a frustrating and elusive goal for the country....

  • After the manifest failure of microcredit to address poverty in Africa and everywhere else, the international development community has hit upon a new microcredit-related idea that, it claims, will do the job this time around: ‘fin-tech’, i.e. financial technology. In this blogpost Milford Bateman argues fin-tech has the potential to gravely undermine the position of the poor and to increase inequality while, not coincidentally, vastly enriching a narrow elite. ...

  • Continuing the debate on roape.net on capitalism in Africa, Tom Goodfellow looks at the weak foundations of industrial capitalism, the key role of land, infrastructure and real estate in the ‘operations’ of capital in Africa. He argues that continued exploration of how capital intersects with contemporary urban forms can help to bring Africa to its rightful position at the forefront of global debates on capitalist transformation....

  • In this blogpost Daniel Bin argues that Africa is probably the most significant area of so-called land grabs, one example of dispossession. However, radical political economy must be clearer about what we mean since most discussion of dispossession neglects a consideration of actual capitalist accumulation. For some, the simple occurrence of dispossession seems to be enough to associate it with primitive accumulation or even with capital accumulation....

  • In this blogpost Tim Di Muzio describes how the perspective of capital as power may help to understand, explain and critique aspects of political economy in Africa. Old traditions and perspectives, Di Muzio argues, continue to have a stranglehold on political economy yet the approach of capital as power offers insights closer to the actual practices of capitalists. How might this perspective be mobilized to understand, explain and critique various aspects of African political economy? ...

  • Nungari Mwangi contributes to our debate on capitalism in Africa by looking into export horticulture in Kenya and its role in the expansion of capitalism. Using a case study of marginalized small scale flower farmers, she challenges the orientation towards European export markets, and calls for a focus on local and regional markets for their survival....

  • The first installment of this three-part blogpost John Smith summarises evidence showing that, during the neoliberal era, African poverty has increased both absolutely and relative to the income and wealth of the average person in Europe and North America, notwithstanding the much-hyped rise of Africa’s middle class....

  • Tinhinan El Kadi and Avelino Chimbulo argue that the current crisis in neoliberal globalisation, best represented by Donald Trump’s election as the US president, may result in an increase in policy space for African nations to engage in industrial policy....

  • Christopher Hope argues that the dependency school, more than any other approach in economics, tried to understand economic development in a given location through an understanding of global capitalism. Yet today, he argues, such an international dimension is often lacking in the contemporary analysis of African economies. Is it time to return the dependency approach?...

  • In this blogpost Horman Chitonge focuses on the question of whether African societies can be classified as capitalist or not. He argues that the answer one gives, depends, largely, on the meaning of capitalism that one adopts and there have been different meanings which researchers and writers have espoused for decades. Chitonge details some of the debates. ...

  • For our series on capitalism in Africa, political economist Pádraig Carmody argues that although globalisation has ‘hollowed out’ the manufacturing base of many European and North American economies, in some parts of Africa there might be the possibility of connecting global production networks on relatively more favourable terms, which could assist industrialisation. ...

  • In this far-reaching and provocative contribution to roape.net's debate on capitalism in Africa, Elísio Macamo argues that instead of discussing whether “Capitalism” as such is a valid concept or a useful description of social phenomena in Africa, we should interrogate how concepts developed in very specific times and places under specific circumstances can be usefully deployed in other settings. ...

  • Continuing our series on capitalism on the continent Kate Meagher writes how debates on industrial policy and the developmental state in Africa have directed attention to wider processes of class formation and economic transformation that seemed until recently to have fallen out of fashion. In this blog she looks at the transformation in the African working class....

  • Following a recent debate on 'African Capitalist Society' organised by Jörg Wiegratz of the Review of African Political Economy at the UK African Studies Association conference in Cambridge, Stefan Ouma continues the discussion on roape.net. As Ouma points out the historical context for such a debate is very different from the 1970s and 1980s – when ROAPE was at the forefront of scholarly discussions on this topic. Ouma argues passionately for a less holistic framing of the subject matter, talking in plural terms and avoiding linear, territorial, singular or transhistorical notions of 'capitalism'....