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Regional Conference to Debate Strategies for Building Democratic Developmental States for Economic Transformation in Southern Africa

Africa is the only region unlikely to meet the Millennium Development Goal on halving poverty by 2015. Lacking basic infrastructure, much of the continent relieson fortuitous events such as periodic high commodity prices, occasional good rains, and whimsical aid.

Why has Africa’s development lagged behind other regions?

The regional conference Building Democratic Developmental States for Economic Transformation in Southern Africawill gather prominent scholars, outspoken members of civil society, and high level policy makers to debate strategies for building democratic developmental states in southern Africa.

Inmany Asian and South American nations progress has been initiated, nurtured and reinforced by developmental states. Their developmental processes have been anchored on a clear transformative agenda centred on economic restructuring, supported by manufacturing and industrialisation.

In Africa, little public debate has taken place on what constitutes a developmental state. While South Africa and Ethiopia have made allusions to building democratic developmental states in public statements and policy pronouncements, there is a lack of understanding on what this concept entails and how African countries can begin to construct it.

The keynote speaker at the conference is, Thandika Mkandawire, who is a Professor of African Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London, and currently a Senior Fellow at the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Prof. Mkandawire is a renowned African scholar and a notable voice on the discourse of democratic developmental states globally.

Speakers and participants will ask whether African leadership can be re-engineered in support of a developmentalist agenda and vision. Is it possible to build a developmentalist public service that has adequate resources, expertise and commitment? How do external forces promote or undermine a developmentalist vision? What institutionalor cultural peculiarities and practices are in place in Africa which might contribute to and offer alternatives towards building democratic developmental states?

Click here to download the programme for the conference.

For more information, contact Julie Middleton jmiddleton@southernafricatrust.org or +27 (0)78 458 2684 / +27 (0)11 034 0400.