Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type



International Relations

First Advisor

Nicholas Rush Smith

Second Advisor

Jean Krasno


Africa, socialism, neoliberalism


Abstract. For many scholars, pundits, policy makers, and citizens alike, Africa’s persistent maldevelopment has continued to defy the usual International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and foreign aid prescriptions that are, at times, peddled as silver bullets to the African conundrum. Beginning in the late 1970s, loans from the IMF and World Bank required African governments to implement certain conditions that were supposed to address public sector mismanagement, illiberal trade policies, low foreign investment, and state development. These austerity measures were designed to usher in an era of financial growth that would enable Africa to join the ranks of developed countries. However, these neoliberal policies, while further integrating African states into the global economy, had the adverse effect of exacerbating poverty, reducing state capacity, and increasing Africa’s dependency on foreign aid. Additionally, neoliberal policies further intensified the challenges many African states were grappling with as they tried to transform the colonial-capitalist state inherited from colonializing countries, to states whose political economy was responsive to the needs of its citizens. Moreover, African states such as Ghana had to contend with routine meddling in their internal affairs from countries such as the United States that wanted to maintain the predatory links with Africa due to its mineral resources as well as a surplus of cheap labor. If the legacies of slavery, colonialism, and neoliberalism are the root causes of Africa’s maldevelopment, then African states would be within their rights to adopt socialism as the organizing economic principal that would usher in positive growth and human development. The thesis will examine Ghana and Tanzania’s attempts to transform their colonial-capitalist economies into socialist economies. This analysis will also examine why those early attempts at socialism were not successful and what African countries can do now to successfully implement socialism. Key to the success of socialism will be renewed efforts towards Pan-Africanism. Early advocates of Pan-Africanism understood that the balkanized nature of African states would make it extremely difficult for them to navigate the global economy as well as an international racial hierarchy. Hence, a renewed call to Pan-Africanism not only promises to put Africa in a better bargaining position vis-à-vis the international community, but its emphasis on regional integration will allow for greater internal political, economic, cultural, and social development.



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