African decentralization: Local actors, powers and accountability
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This review samples the rapidly expanding literature on decentralization in Africa. It examines design and implementation issues emerging in decentralization and identifies fruitful areas for policy research and analysis in this critical governance domain. From the review of the literature, it appears that decentralization is not taking the forms necessary to realize the benefits that theory predicts, because it fails to entrust downwardly accountable representative actors with significant domains of autonomous discretionary power. The decentralizations under way differ in terms of the level of legal reform involved; the scale and number of layers of local government; the kinds of local authorities being engaged and developed; the mix of powers and obligations devolved; the sectors involved; the nature of the enabling environment; and the motives of governments for launching the reforms in the first place. These variables are examined with respect to how they shape expected outcomes.
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