nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2017‒03‒05
five papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. Legal empowerment of the poor through property rights reform: Tensions and trade-offs of land registration and titling in sub-Saharan Africa By Catherine Boone
  2. Donor-supported approaches to improving extractives governance: Lessons from Nigeria and Ghana By Joanna Buckley; Neil McCulloch; Nick Travis
  3. ‘Affordability’ and the political economy of social protection in contemporary Africa By Jeremy Seekings
  4. Keeping It in the Family: Lineage Organization and the Scope of Trust in Sub-Saharan Africa By Jacob Moscona; Nathan Nunn; James A. Robinson
  5. Air transport in Africa: A portrait of capacity and competition in various market segments By Heinrich C. Bofinger

  1. By: Catherine Boone
    Abstract: Land registration and titling in Africa has been seen as a means of legal empowerment of the poor that can protect smallholders’ and pastoralists’ rights of access to land and other land-based resources. Land registration is also on the ethnojustice agenda in parts of Africa and beyond. Yet legal empowerment via registration and titling is also advocated by those who push for the market-enhancing and aggregate growth-promoting commodification of property rights, whereby market forces will transfer land out of the hands of smallholders and into the hands of ‘those who can make most efficient or productive use of it’. This paper contrasts these different visions of legal empowerment, showing that each one, rather than offering a straight and clear path to pro-poor outcomes, entails powerful tensions and trade-offs. Registration and titling often have powerful redistributive implications. This helps to explain why debates over land law reform in general, and over registration and titling in particular, have been divisive in some African countries. The analysis highlights some of the broader political, institutional, and economic forces that shape the design and outcomes of land law reforms that may be undertaken (in part) to promote legal empowerment of the poor.
    Date: 2017
  2. By: Joanna Buckley; Neil McCulloch; Nick Travis
    Abstract: Donor interest in the extractives sector is based upon the premise that it represents an opportunity to improve a country’s development prospects. However, in many cases the presence of extractive resources is associated with poor economic performance. As a result, some donors are trying a radically different approach. This paper explores two such programmes funded by the UK Department for International Development: the Facility for Oil Sector Transparency and Reform in Nigeria, and the Ghana Oil and Gas for Inclusive Growth programme in Ghana. The paper outlines five lessons learned from these examples. First, continual analysis is essential to understand the underlying incentives of key actors. Second, interventions need to be locally led in order to provide legitimacy for reform. Third, interventions need to be flexible and adaptive. Fourth, acceptance of an element of risk is necessary. Fifth, donors need to develop a new way of measuring impact.
    Date: 2017
  3. By: Jeremy Seekings
    Abstract: The ‘affordability’ of new or expanded social protection programmes depends on more than an assessment of the fiscal costs or the poverty-reducing or developmental benefits. Diverse international organizations have shown that programmes costing less than or about 1 per cent of GDP have substantial benefits, and most low-income countries have the ‘fiscal space’ for such programmes (including through increased taxation). These international organizations have generally failed to convince national policy-making elites to raise and to allocate scarce domestic resources to social protection programmes. The result is an ‘affordability gap’ between what is advocated for African countries and what these countries’ governments are willing to spend. This paper examines four cases of contestation over the ‘affordability’ of social protection reforms in Africa: Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, and the semi-autonomous territory of Zanzibar. In all four cases, political elites have resisted or rejected proposals for expensive reforms, and the most expensive reforms adopted cost only 0.4 to 0.5 per cent of GDP. The governments of Zambia and Botswana generally resisted even expenditures of this magnitude. The cost ceiling for reforms is far below the estimates of international organizations, reflecting political, normative and ideological factors.
    Date: 2017
  4. By: Jacob Moscona; Nathan Nunn; James A. Robinson
    Abstract: We present evidence that the traditional structure of society is an important determinant of the scope of trust today. Within Africa, individuals belonging to ethnic groups that organized society using segmentary lineages exhibit a more limited scope of trust, measured by the gap between trust in relatives and trust in non-relatives. This trust gap arises because of lower levels of trust in non-relatives and not higher levels of trust in relatives. A causal interpretation of these correlations is supported by the fact that the effects are primarily found in rural areas where these forms of organization are still prevalent.
    JEL: N00 O10 Z1 Z13
    Date: 2017–02
  5. By: Heinrich C. Bofinger
    Abstract: Sub-Saharan Africa’s air transport, though low in overall volume when compared to other regions in the world, has experienced significant growth in the last decade, both in international and domestic traffic. The sector, in part because of its relatively small size, still faces the challenges of high concentration in services and lack of competition, with only a few dominant airlines providing international services within the continent. In addition, Africa faces challenges in safety oversight, as well as having many smaller non-viable state-owned carriers
    Date: 2017

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