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3.3.3: States and politics of development in Africa
Wednesday, 02/June/2021:
2:30pm - 4:00pm

Session Chair: Adrian Murray
Location: Room 3


Anatomy of the Clash of Nationalisms in Ethiopia: Can the Center Hold?

Abdella Abdulkadir Abdou

Brandon University, Canada

Ethiopia, one of the poorest countries in Africa, is standing at a historic crossroads. Its multinational federal system is pulled in opposite directions of centralization and decentralization while the country is simultaneously struggling to end the poverty its people are mired in. The major political forces in the country come in the form of apparently irreconcilable forms of nationalisms whose intense conflicts may plunge the country into a quagmire. This paper examines the historical and class basis of conflicting nationalisms in Ethiopia. It employs overlapping nationalisms model to delineate the complexities of clashing nationalisms in Ethiopia. It discusses the dynamics of federal systems in general and the particular dynamics of the Ethiopian federation. It explores inclusive institutional arrangements that involves both spatial and temporal dimensions of power sharing that may reconcile contending nationalisms and put Ethiopia on a stable and developmental path.

Political Dynamics of Electricity Provision in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire

Mark Kwakye Frimpong

Concordia University, Canada

This paper examines variation in government performance in electricity provision in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. These two countries are early adopters of market-based electricity reforms, but sectoral performance differs significantly. More households and firms have obtained access to electricity in Ghana than in Côte d’Ivoire (66.9%). At 82.4 percent, Ghana ranks third in access in mainland Sub-Saharan Africa, a rate beaten by only South Africa (91.2%) and Gabon (93%) (World Bank 2020). However, while disruptions in electricity supply are more frequent in Ghana, the rarity of power outages in Côte d’Ivoire seems a miracle.

Why does performance differ so widely in countries that have adopted market-based electricity interventions? I argue that differences in electricity performance are rooted in the nature of party systems. Intense two-party electoral competitions in Ghana result in the politicization of electricity. In addition to using electrification as a strategy to build a winning coalition, political elites invite voters to evaluate their electricity performance and reward them at the polls. The two-party competitive electoral democracy has also empowered citizens, who hold politicians to account for their electricity performance. On the contrary, in Côte d’Ivoire, the dominant one-party regime facilitated the depoliticization of electricity by privatizing the utility and in the post-war era faces no electricity accountability and real political threats at the polls in the absence of a credible opposition.

My study uses process tracing to evaluate this argument over time. Empirical evidence is drawn from media coverages and interviews conducted with functionaries of political parties, members of parliament, journalists, civil society organizations, local scholars, and officials of power utilities during field research in Accra in Spring 2019 and in Abidjan in Fall 2019. This research fosters an understanding of the politics of public services provision and contributes to the literature on the political economy of development.

Redrawing the Borders: Violent Encounters, Transformations and the Political Economy of Peri-Urbanization Around Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Fikir Getaneh Haile

Queen's University, Canada

A country with one of the highest urban growth rates in the world, Ethiopia's governance systems are confronting various challenges associated with rapid urbanization. Addis Ababa, its political capital and largest city is currently home to over 4 million people, a number set to rise to 12 million by 2024. This growth exacerbates existing challenges and presents new ones, chief among them the scarcity of land to accommodate the growing population of the city. To tackle this challenge, federal and regional governments have attempted to expand the territorial boundaries of the city, challenging the regional borders of the ethno-federalist state and threatening the livelihoods of the subsistence farmers living in the surrounding areas. These transformations and the consequent confrontation between rural and urban land use patterns and livelihoods has made the city’s peripheral areas sites of tension, violence and conflict.

While the issues of land governance, urbanization and ethno-federalism have been key areas of research in the political economy of Ethiopia, the existing literature does not examine their linkage, largely ignoring the governance of expanding urbanization in ethno-federalist hotspots such as Ethiopia. Consequently, there is silence regarding the linkage between urban expansion, ethno-regional divisions and land access in Ethiopia. To address this gap in the literature, this study asks two major research questions. (1) How does the geographical expansion of Addis Ababa impact the territorial boundaries and stability of the ethno-federalist state? (2). How are the material and ecological costs of these ongoing transformations related to Addis Ababa's expansion distributed along axes of class and ethnicity?

The research reveals that Addis Ababa's expansion is exerting increasing pressure on the ethno-federalist state and is linked to political instability. The study additionally finds that Addis Ababa’s expansion has profoundly detrimental material and ecological impacts on subsistence farmers living in the surrounding areas.