This article is from Democracy Digest:
For all the economic successes of countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda, three major questions about authoritarian development in Africa remain, Nic Cheeseman writes for the Carnegie Endowment:
- First, there is some evidence that the empirical data used to identify Ethiopia and Rwanda as success stories may not be as impressive as it was first thought. A 2019 investigation by the Financial Times found that contrary to the Rwandan government’s protestations, “poverty most likely increased between 2010 and 2014.” Similarly, economic growth figures shared by the Ethiopian government have often exceeded International Monetary Fund projections—in some cases by as much as 3.5 percentage points. This suggests that the official figures are part of a broader propaganda campaign designed to sell the regime both at home and abroad.
- Second, it is unclear whether the political systems established in Ethiopia and Rwanda can be reproduced in other, very different contexts. It seems implausible, for example, for a government to impose the kind of tight control needed for developmental patrimonialism to work in countries with stronger opposition parties and civil societies, such as Kenya and Nigeria.
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