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Historical perspectives of policymaking and administration in Africa

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submitted on 2023-09-12, 07:18 and posted on 2023-09-13, 08:52 authored by Felix Kumah-Abiwu, James Korku Agbodzakey, Samuel Kofi Darkwa

Policymaking is a core responsibility of governments today in Africa compared to the pre-modern era, where societies were primarily consumed with survival and self-preservation strategies (Gerston 2014). There are two dominant viewpoints for the centrality of policy-making and administration today. The first concerns citizen participation because of the growing democratic space and citizens’ awareness of their basic rights. Second, the growing needs of citizens and the demands on governments to address these needs (Gerston 2014; Lester and Stewart 1996). The needs argument of citizens and the responsibilities of governments to meet these needs may explain the centrality of public policy, the content of the policy process, policymaking and administration in 21st-century Africa. What then is public policy? Public policy as an intervention by the government to resolve societal problems has been defned diferently in this volume. Thomas Dye describes it as ‘what governments do, why they do it, and what diference it makes’ (Dye 1992, pp. 2–4). To Harold Lasswell, it is a ‘projected program of goals, values, and practices’ (Lester and Stewart 1996, p. 5). Ohemeng et al. (2013) consider it the coalition of actors in the policy process involving the step-by-step process these actors take to address the needs of citizens. But Guy Peters takes the defnition of public policy a step further to discuss the emergence and the process elements of policymaking where policies emerge from the complex interactions of ideas, programs, actors, institutions and government agencies (Gerston 2014, p. 5). Thus, public policy and public administration underscore important commonalities of government activities, goals and decisions.

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Published in: Routledge Handbook of Public Policy in Africa
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  • English



Publication Year

  • 2021

License statement

This chapter is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • College of Public Policy - HBKU

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