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Working Paper 82 - Public Sector Management in Africa


With the attainment of independence by most African countries in the late 1950s and 1960s, the public sector is generally regarded as the pivot that will promote socioeconomic development. The basic function of the public sector, which comprises a number of institutions for the making and implementation of decisions with regard to interests of various kinds, was to provide goods and services to citizens based on “realization and representation of public interests and its possession of unique public qualities compared to business management” (Haque, 2001: 65). However, the public sector was not able to perform its function effectively because of its “accumulation of excessive power, lack of accountability and representation, indifference towards public needs and demands, official secrecy and inaccessibility, and role in depoliticizing the public sphere” (Garnham, 1990; Haque, 1994). This ineffectiveness coupled with the economic crises of the late 1970s and 1980s and the apparent lessons from international experience of the success of market-friendly economies have combined to produce what some scholars have referred to as the “redefinition of the role of the state or public sector” (Fiszbein, 2000: 163).

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