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Why Western-led Corporate Sector Regulations Don’t Always Have the Intended Effect in Africa

Socioeconomic development in African countries, along with other developing countries, is held back by many constraints. These include an insufficiently skilled workforce, poor infrastructure, and inadequate capital to finance public goods and services. This is also true for some African countries with abundant natural resources. For decades, an array of structural reforms have been put forward to steer developing countries towards growth. Some have been economic, others political, or focused on the public sector. Most are concocted in western countries and midwifed by powerful western agencies, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Yet they have not led to the intended results. One reason is that recipient countries have traditionally been excluded from designing the reforms. This creates mistrust between those who want them and those who are forced to accept them. Another reason that’s been suggested is that the western roots of reforms make them incompatible with the social contexts of African countries. Tying reforms to financial aid is a third reason. Bureaucrats in poor countries often view proposed reforms as nothing more than a means to international liquidity.