Progress and Retreat in Africa: Challenges of a “Frontier” Region

Issue Date April 2008
Volume 19
Issue 2
Page Numbers 94-108
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“Frontier Africa” captures the interplay of risk, reward and uncertainty of political and economic life. Economic growth and political advances are halted by disputed elections; high corruption erodes the capacity and legitimacy of state institutions; China is now a major actor that can undercut human rights and democracy efforts; and counter-terrorism emboldens autocratic rulers. In the end, basic needs of the masses of the people for healthcare, education, jobs, and physical security are unmet. The tragic aftermath of the 2007 presidential vote in Kenya demonstrates the continuing significance of personal rule, weak institutions, and electoral systems subject to partisan manipulation.

About the Author

Richard Joseph is John Evans Professor of International History and Politics at Northwestern University. He is the author of Democracy and Prebendal Politics in Nigeria (1987; reissued 2014). He is writing books on post-1975 Nigerian politics and society; and on governance, development, and the state in Africa.

View all work by Richard Joseph