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The growing influence of Civil Society actors in African development processes


  • Walter Eberlei


During the first decade of the 21st century, development politics in Sub-Saharan Africa is undergoing significant changes: a new role for the state and its growing scope for strategic manoeuvres, remarkable changes in the international aid regime as well as the rise of vibrant civil societies. The article focuses on the latter. The author argues that a new generation of participatory processes has emerged: African civil societies have started entering the macro level of politics. The processes around the Poverty Reduction Strategies demonstrate this. Based on Habermas’ distinction between communicative power and administrative power, prospects and limitations for the interplay between the state and civil society are discussed. Regarding the significance of civil society participation, a mixed picture emerges (three country groups are distinguished). However, the author concludes that the newly evolved voices from civil society and their growing communicative power will play a significant role in future African politics.

Suggested Citation

  • Walter Eberlei, 2008. "The growing influence of Civil Society actors in African development processes," Africa Spectrum, Institute of African Affairs, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg, vol. 43(3), pages 309-332.
  • Handle: RePEc:gig:afjour:v:43:y:2008:i:3:p:309-332

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