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Working Paper 81 - Re-Orienting Public Management in Africa: Selected Issues and Some Country Experiences


At independence, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) inherited public administration (PA) systems that performed two key functions of a modern state fairly satisfactorily: assuring the continuity of the state and maintaining law and order within each country’s territorial areas. Most countries moved quickly to recruit and train nationals to replace the departing colonial officials and to assure the steady supply of trained men and women for their expanding public services. There was also a reorientation of the service delivery function of the PA from the interests of the colonial countries to those of the new states. In many cases, this meant more rapid expansion of the provision of services in agriculture, the social sector, and infrastructure than was the case during the preceding decades of colonial rule. The functions of the public services were further expanded through the establishment of many public enterprises that were operated with varying degrees of autonomy from the civil services that were at the heart of the machinery of government in each country. Another significant re-orientation was making the PA accountable to national political leaders and the public instead of the erstwhile accountability to colonial masters. In general, the momentum for nurturing a development-oriented PA was maintained up to the mid-1970s in most countries.

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