Africa’s New Authoritarians

Aid, Securitisation and State-Building

David Anderson


Jonathan Fisher

Has the West tacitly endorsed autocracy in Africa to safeguard economic its interests, or have African rulers manipulated aid and the threat of terrorism to bolster their illiberal regimes? The answer is more complex than that.

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Africa’s New Authoritarians Paperback
February 2019£17.99
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The advance — and consolidation — of democratisation in states such as Ghana, Benin and Namibia is not the story across the African continent. A distinct and confident form of authoritarianism has emerged in many African countries over the last decade. It is intimately linked to the securitisation of aid and — mainly Western — donor efforts to ‘stabilise’ Africa. These ‘new authoritarians’, and their relationship with the international system, are the subject of this book.

This authoritarianism is not, the book argues, a return to the era of military juntas and presidents-for-life. Africa’s new authoritarians are neither professional military men nor civilian leaders but somewhere in-between. Former rebel leaders and cadres, or state security insiders, now govern Uganda, Rwanda, Angola, Zimbabwe, Burundi, Ethiopia, Chad and Mozambique. Aspects of the new African authoritarianism can also be seen in Kenya, Mali, Togo and Nigeria.

Africa’s New Authoritarians explores how this authoritarianism has interacted with and been sustained by the securitisation of African states’ relationships with the outside world. Of central importance here is the observation that this ‘securitisation of development’ is not simply an external agenda forced upon African polities but is often one promoted and championed by African state-builders themselves.


David Anderson is Professor of African History at the University of Warwick and has written numerous books and articles on the history and politics of violence in colonial and postcolonial Africa, including Histories of the Hanged.

Jonathan Fisher is Senior Lecturer in African Politics at the University of Birmingham. His research focuses on the place and agency of African states in the international system and has been published in a range of top-ranked journals including African Affairs, International Affairs and World Development.