Working Paper
Do Donors Matter for Institutional Reform in Africa?

The last twenty years has seen an extensive and exhausting debate on how to improve the institutions of African states. But progress has been patchy at best. Many of the problems arise from a ‘partial-reform equilibrium’; initial reforms are undertaken, but then strong resistance is encountered, and reform is not completed. Consequently, although donors may be heartened to find governments speaking the rhetoric of private-sector development, governments may not in fact buy into many second-generation reforms. Public management and public expenditure reform, security-sector reform, and revenue reform are all unfinished agendas. Donor assistance to countries that are stuck in a partial-reform equilibrium is most effective when internal political dynamics succeed in changing national leaderships, as in Ghana.