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Political Economy: Africa




Admissions requirements



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 the conflict prone countries. Furthermore, the course will critique the relationship between political stability and economic growth across the continent.
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 and the 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 organisations in the economic development of Africa.

  • List and explain 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 on the development of selected African states.

  • List and critique the various mechanism used by China in advancing their 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.


Once available, timetables will be published in the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The mode of instruction will consist of lectures (1 hour, 50 minutes every week) and class seminars/ guest lectures (1 hour, 50 minutes every week). Students are expected to participate actively during class seminars. Students will regularly 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 are compulsory.


Learning aim Assessment Percentage
Interactive engagement with course material Class attendance and in-class participation 15%
Individual engagement with course readings Class assignments (Weeks 1/3/6, three in total. Maximum (including references): 750 words each) 30% (10% per essay).
Understanding of course content Weekly group assignments/ presentations. 15%
Expression of holistic understanding of the course Individual assignment; final essay. Topic to be agreed with lecturer. (Maximum (including references): 3000 words) 40%

Please note:

  • In accordance with article 4.8 of the Course and Examination Regulations (OER), within 30 days after the publication of grades, the instructor will provide students the opportunity to inspect their exams/coursework.

  • There is a no re-sit policy at Leiden University College.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Some important readings:
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.

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.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact