Sub-Saharan Africa, economic development, political development, HIV/AIDS, Structural Adjustment Programs, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya


The purpose of this thesis is to investigate some of the contending issues associated with economic underdevelopment in sub-Saharan African states. Specifically, this thesis focuses on the combined effects of World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) economic austerity programs, the increased spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and the continuous democratic deficit on the sluggish economic performance within four sub-Saharan African countries – Ghana, Kenya, Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The research questions are: are there any unique political, cultural, and economic issues that underscore and determine the path of sub-Saharan African development? What are the potentials for sub-Saharan Africa going beyond its present state of socioeconomic and political underdevelopment? Can sub-Saharan African nation-states truly claim the 21st century? It is hoped that what is learned from examining the situation in these four countries may be generalizeable to other sub-Saharan African states. This thesis has been written with the conviction that sub-Saharan Africa, although it has missed opportunities over the past thirty years, has not completely closed the door on economic development. Although sub-Saharan African conditions have not favored development and there is no simple solution for sub-Saharan Africa's economic and social ills, there are a number of 'common sense' approaches toward sustainable economic and social development. This thesis examines why sub-Saharan Africa's economic crisis has persevered for three decades, and why efforts to establish and uphold more effective economic policies and functioning public institutions have been so much more difficult in sub-Saharan Africa than elsewhere. My account concentrates on political and institutional factors: I explore how the predicament has progressed over the last thirty years, and the repercussions of the long-term nature of this predicament. The focal purpose is to identify and explain the causes which have kept sub-Saharan Africa for several decades mired in an ostensibly permanent crisis. The general theme of the thesis emphasizes that politics and economics are interconnected in sub-Saharan Africa. Moreover, the thesis focuses on the changing role of politics and markets in the process of economic development since the 1970s – and prospects for the future of this region.


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Graduation Date





Jungblut, Bernadette


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences


Political Science

Degree Program

Political Science








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)