- From Old Practices to New Governance Models: Contractual Schemes in Africa’s Political Development
- The European Legacy, Toward New Paradigms
- Volume | Issue number
- 22 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Drawing on various historical documents, the article uses process tracing methods and analytic narratives to establish a relationship between historical contractual practices and state formation in nineteenth-century East Africa. I trace the process through which local political leaders historically sought to secure monopolistic deals over trade with foreign entrepreneurs through incomplete contracts for tangible economic goods (arms and slave trades, manufactured goods) and intangible political goods or services (security, knowledge, independence). By showcasing agents’ bargaining strategies in contractual agreements, the article sheds light on notions of sovereignty and independence articulated through public contracting in Africa’s political development. Historical understandings of notions of independence and sovereignty by procurement practitioners in East Africa provide seeds for thought in controversial debates about government outsourcing today. Is outsourced sovereignty always threatening? Can we outsource sovereignty and remain independent? These are perhaps the most important conceptual queries that make East Africa’s historical contractual experience pertinent today as new public-private partnerships for development, including government outsourcing, increasingly call for the use of private means to solve public problems in the developing countries.
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