The Political Economy of Infrastructure and Service Delivery

Progress in development will require substantial investment and improvement in the governance of infrastructure and service delivery. In most sub-Saharan African countries, this needs to take place in political contexts in which the clientelistic features of the local and national state (focusing on distribution to favoured groups and individuals) coincide with the emergence or deepening of democracy as well as improving bureaucratic capabilities.

In this theme, we explore these tensions analysing constraints and opportunities in infrastructure and social service delivery at the local and national level in a series of quantitative and qualitative studies in Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, South Africa and Nigeria. We study how structures and cultures of political accountability develop and relate to improved service delivery. We draw lessons, including contrasting findings with those from more illiberal states without similar democratic accountability, such as Angola and Ethiopia.

Lead researchers

Robin Harding (DPIR) and Katrina Charles (Geography)

Research team

Johanna Koehler (Geography), Clare Leaver (BSG), Kate Orkin (Economics), Oliver Owen (ODID), Martin Williams (BSG)

Latest News

Watch Martin Williams, Associate Professor in Public Management at the Blavatnik School of Government, a mini-documentary - 'Ghana's Infrastructure: the Spending of Misspending'. This film is a product of a collaboration between the International Growth Centre (IGC) and Ghana's civil service, where they found that 1/3 of local government infrastructure projects that were started were not being finished, and sought policy solutions to fix the problem.