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African Successes, Volume IVSustainable Growth$
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Sebastian Edwards, Simon Johnson, and David N. Weil

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226315553

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226315690.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 23 October 2019

Indirect Rule and State Weakness in Africa

Indirect Rule and State Weakness in Africa

Sierra Leone in Comparative Perspective

Chapter:
(p.343) 9 Indirect Rule and State Weakness in Africa
Source:
African Successes, Volume IV
Author(s):

Daron Acemoglu

Isaías N. Chaves

Philip Osafo-Kwaako

James A. Robinson

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226315690.003.0011

A fundamental problem for economic development is that most poor countries have `weak states' which are incapable or unwilling to provide basic public goods such as law enforcement, order, education and infrastructure. In Africa this is often attributed to the persistence of `indirect rule' from the colonial period. In this paper we discuss the ways in which a state constructed on the basis of indirect rule is weak and the mechanisms via which this has persisted since independence in Sierra Leone. We also present a hypothesis as to why the extent to which indirect rule has persisted varies greatly within Africa, linking it to the presence or the absence of large centralized pre-colonial polities within modern countries. Countries which had such a polity, such as Ghana and Uganda, tended to abolish indirect rule since it excessively empowered traditional rulers at the expense of post-colonial elites. Our argument provides a new mechanism which can explain the positive correlation between pre-colonial political centralization and modern public goods and development outcomes.

Keywords:   state strength, indirect rule, development, Sierra Leone

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