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The Political Economy of Development Assistance: Lessons from South Korea for Sub-Saharan Africa

In: Asian International Studies Review
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This paper examines the political economy of development assistance in sub-Saharan African countries and South Korea focusing on the importance of good governance and domestic policies in a successful management and utilization of development aid. South Korea, along with Malaysia, has been widely recognized as one of the successful cases where foreign aid actually led to a significant level of economic development. From one of the major recipient nations and the poorest countries, South Korea, in about 40 years, has emerged as a donor nation with the 12th largest economy in the world. Comparatively, despite international efforts to help Africans out of their economic and political malaise, there has been a lack of visible progress in sub-Saharan African nations as far as changing the lives of the people. In the paper, we argue that weak institutional and political structures dominated by autocrats and democrats that practice illiberal politics are the main cause of poor development policies in sub-Saharan Africa. lt is weak institutional structures that continue to undermine the efficient use of foreign aid in the interest of the people. In this context, we examine political factors that contributed to a successful management of development aid in South Korea, and extract some lessons and policy suggestions from the South Korean case for sub-Saharan African countries.

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