Welcome to the fourth issue of The Africa Governance Papers. A central theme of this issue concerns the competition between China and the US for digital technology influence in Africa. This is reflected in the first four research articles, which were enabled by a research grant provided by the Africa-China Reporting Project at the Wits Centre for Journalism. I thank Dr Bob Wekesa of the African Centre for the Study of the US at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) for interesting the authors of these articles in publishing with TAGP.
In the opening paper, Tyler Venske highlights key hurdles to Africa’s digital independence. In his article, Cliff Mboya examines the implications of the rivalry between China and the US for global dominance of the digital landscape and its implications for African countries’ foreign policy postures. Thomas Lethoba’s article finds that claims that China is exporting an authoritarian digital authoritarianism model to Africa are misleading, but also that African autocracies are exploiting the adoption of China’s model of the internet to roll back democratic gains through surveillance and censorship of civil liberties.
A research article contributed by GGA colleagues Pranish Desai and Dr Ross Harvey starts from indications that there are starkly divergent trajectories between the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and non-SADC countries’ output and employment growth as a measure of manufacturing performance. This paper uses an econometric model to examine whether the SADC suffers a statistically significant difference in industrialisation trends when compared with other  African regions and countries, finding that there is a significant discrepancy. On that basis, the article proposes adjustments to the current SADC Industrialisation Strategy (2015-2063).
In an extended book review, Terence Corrigan discussed Dr Christine Hobden’s Citizenship in a Globalised World (2022), based on her PhD at Oxford, which is centrally concerned with the operation of citizenship across – or “above” – borders. Corrigan finds that the book reveals a key tension between “commitment to cosmopolitanism” and the need to respect global differences in ethical ideas and practice, but also that it contributes useful challenges to standard conceptualisations of citizenship in today’s world.

Professor David Benatar, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town, contributes an extended review essay on Dr Max Price’s recent book, Statues and Storms: Leading Through Change (2023), a memoir of the author’s experiences as vice-chancellor of the University of Cape Town, focusing particularly on the “Fallist protests” from early 2015 until the end of 2016. Benatar is sympathetic to the challenges Dr Price faced, praising his coolness and patience. However, he also critically examines Dr Price’s view that Price was forced to make “unpopular decisions” during tumultuous times, arguing that unpopular decisions are “only courageous if they are also the right ones”.
Finally, Sara Houmada, with the African Peer Review Mechanism Continental Secretariat, provides an interesting commentary article reviewing the African Union’s review of its First Ten-Year Implementation Plan (FTYIP) in support of Agenda 2063, the AU’s 2013 plan “for stronger socio-economic and political integration among African countries” based on seven aspirations and 20 specific goals. She argues that many of the challenges faced by African countries in addressing Agenda 2063’s challenges could be positively influenced by a focused and conscious adoption of the social contract model of governance around the continent.

To conclude, the range of research and research-based arguments in this issue demonstrates TAGP’s commitment to both depth and breadth in the pursuit of research on governance. With growing interest and support from our widening circle of academic researchers, the journal aims to build on this approach even further in coming issues.




Published: 31.10.2023