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Ethnic bias, favouritism and development in Africa


  • Richard Ilorah


The leadership in many African countries, with their ethnic diversities, is characterised by ethnic bias and favouritism, and citizens are thus treated unequally in many respects, particularly when it comes to national resource allocation and political representation. This breeds resentment and creates conditions for an ultimate rejection of the state by the frustrated and politically conscious masses. It is also tantamount to corruption, weakening the ability of the state to function efficiently, and is therefore anti-developmental. This paper argues that the socio-economic crises in many African countries are aggravated by practices of ethnic bias and favouritism that have consistently violated the principle of the impersonality of economic agents, caused resentment among the marginalised ethnic groups, fuelled conflicts and retarded development on the continent. It is recommended that a strong and credible judicial body, with powers to investigate crimes against citizens and prosecute and punish offenders, be established by the African Union.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Ilorah, 2009. "Ethnic bias, favouritism and development in Africa," Development Southern Africa, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(5), pages 695-707.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:deveza:v:26:y:2009:i:5:p:695-707
    DOI: 10.1080/03768350903303209

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