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Political Economy: Africa


Admission requirements

Required course(s):

None, but Principles of Economics is recommended.


This course will analyze the intersection of politics and economics in relation to diverse developments in Africa. These dynamics will be explored from both the perspectives of African countries and those of external actors. Specifically, we will focus on both intra-African relationships and the engagement of African countries/ Africa with the rest of the world.

The course will explore, among other things, the dynamics that have influenced the economic and political development of some of the natural-resource-dependent countries in Africa. It will also explore the impact of natural resources on conflict in some of the conflict-prone countries.

The course will also examine the impact of foreign direct investments and foreign aid on the political and economic development of Africa.

Finally, the course will look at the relationship between states and businesses across the continent and the potential role of indigenous entrepreneurship and the African diaspora in African development.

In summary, this course will explore the diverse debates on the political economy of Africa. Key topics include: the place of Africa in the world; corruption and governance in Africa; the relationship between African states and businesses; Africa, capital flight and international financial flows; intra-African trade and African trade with the rest of the world; natural resources and conflict in Africa; foreign aid and foreign direct investments in Africa, and; China in Africa.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course, successful students should be able to:

  • Understand and explain the diverse political and economic characteristics of Africa and how these compare with the rest of the world.

  • Know and critique the characteristics of the various definitions and thesis of corruption in Africa

  • List, explain, and apply the various theories that explain the formulation of industrial policies in Africa.

  • Explain and critique the various theories of state-business relations in Africa and the diverse roles played by foreign powers, international businesses, and multilateral organizations in the economic development of Africa.

  • Understand and explain the concept of capital flight and the various components of Africa’s financial flows

  • List and define the various types of aid and explain the vicious cycle of aid in Africa.

  • List and critique the various theories that explain the relationship between natural resources and conflict in Africa.

  • Explain the resource curse phenomenon and describe how it impacts the development of selected African states.

  • List and critique the various mechanisms used by China in advancing its interest in Africa and the consequences of these for Africa.

  • Formulate original research questions and write a critical essay corresponding to their academic level on a subject of their choice related to the course content.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The mode of instruction will consist of lectures (1 hour, 50 minutes every week) and class seminars (1 hour, 50 minutes every week). Students are expected to participate actively during class seminars. Students will be required to make presentations, sometimes on their own and sometimes in groups, on aspects of the course syllabus especially during seminars. Attendance of lectures and class seminars is compulsory.

Assessment Method

  • Attendance & participation: 15%

  • Class assignments, two in total. Maximum 1500 words each, excluding references): 30% (15% per essay)

  • Seminar presentations by students: 15%.

  • Individual assignment: final essay. Topic to be agreed with the lecturer. Maximum 3000 words, excluding references: 40%

Reading list

  • Akinyoade. A and C. Uche (2018), Development built on crony capitalism? The case of Dangote Cement, Business History 60. pp. 833-858.

  • Billion, P (2001), The political ecology of war: natural resources and armed conflicts, Political Geography 20, 561–584

  • Chan, S (2013), The Morality of China in Africa: The Middle Kingdom and the Dark Continent (London and New York: Zed Books) Chapters 1, 6 and 7.

  • Dollar, D (2016), China’s engagement with Africa: From Natural Resources to Human Resources (Washington DC, The John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings) Chapters 1, 2 and 3.

  • Ekumankama, O., Ezeoha, A. and Uche, C. (2020), The role of multinational corporations in local dairy value chain development: case of Friesland Campina WAMCO (FCW) in Nigeria, International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 55-70.

  • Ezeoha, A., Okoyeuzu, C., Onah, E., Uche, C. (2019). Second-hand vehicle markets in West Africa: A source of regional disintegration, trade informality, and welfare losses. Business History, 61(1), 187–204.

  • Global Justice Now, Honest Accounts 2017 - How the world profits from Africa's wealth. Downloaded from (18 February 2019).

  • Persson, A, B Rothstein, and J. Teorell. (2013). Why Anti-Corruption Reforms Fail: Systemic Corruption as a Collective Action Problem. Governance 25 (3): 449–471.

  • Sardan, J (1999), A Moral Economy of Corruption in Africa? The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 25-52.

  • Taylor, I. (2016) Dependency redux: Why Africa is not rising, Review Of African Political Economy 43 (147) 8-25.

  • Whitfield, L., and L., Buur. The Politics of Industrial Policy: Ruling Elites and their Alliances, Third World Quarterly, 35:1, 126-144,

  • Uche, C.U. (2008), ‘Oil, British interests and the Nigerian civil war’, Journal of African History, 49, (1), pp. 111–135.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Prof (dr). Chibuike Uche,