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School of Law

Law and development in Africa

Course Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1
Taught in:
Full Year

The main objective of this course is to examine the scope and limitations of law as an instrument of development in Africa. Development will be examined as an interrelated three-legged concept consisting of: human development, socio-political development and economic development. The course will explore what contributions have and can law, legal theory and legal institutions make towards the realisation of these three aspects of development in Africa. The course will have a comparative approach, examining national, regional and international perspectives of the relevant issues. It will focus on the major challenges facing the African continent in its quest for sustainable human, socio-political and economic development. The syllabus has both a theoretical and practical content engaging with relevant issues such as the Conceptions and indices of development with a focus on Africa; the Law and Development Movement; Scope and limits of law as an instrument of development; Theories of law and development in Africa, Human rights and development in Africa; Women’s rights and empowerment in Africa; Education and capacity building in Africa; Human security in Africa; Governance, constitutionalism and rule of law in Africa; Conflict and resource control agitation in Africa; Corporate and social responsibility in Africa; Civil society engagement in Africa; Trade and development in Africa; Agricultural and technological development in Africa; Economic and financial regulation in Africa; and Corruption and economic crimes in Africa. There will also be explorative case studies of the role of law in addressing these different developmental questions in selected African countries.

The course fills a lacuna in the School of Law’s postgraduate curriculum and complements existing courses, such as the general Law and Development course, by specifically focusing on Africa. Generally, this course will strengthen the options for the General LLM and MA programmes, as well as the LLM and MA in Law, LLM and MA in Culture and Society; LLM and MA in Law, Development and Globalization; and LLM and MA International and Comparative Legal Studies programmes.

Course Outline

This is an indicative list and may vary from year to year:

Introduction and Theories of Development
  •  Conceptions and Indices of Development with a focus on Africa.
  • The Law and Development Movement
  • Scope and Limits of Law as an Instrument of Development
  •  Theories of Law and Development in Africa
Law and Human Development
  • Human Rights and Development in Africa
  • Women’s Rights and Empowerment in Africa
  • Education and Capacity Building in Africa
  • Human Security in Africa
Law and Socio-Political Development
  • Governance, Constitutionalism and Rule of Law in Africa
  • Conflict and Resource Control Agitation in Africa
  • Corporate and Social Responsibility in Africa
  • Civil Society Engagement in Africa
Law and Economic Development
  • Trade and Development in Africa
  • Agricultural and Technological Development in Africa
  • Economic and Financial Regulation in Africa
  • Corruption and Economic Crimes in Africa
Country Case Studies
  • South Africa
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya
  • The Sudan

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

On successful completion of the course  a student should be able to:

1. understand the different theories of Law and Development in the context of Africa;

2. analyse the indices of socio-economic growth and explore the role of law as an instrument of social engineering in Africa;

3. demonstrate an appreciation of the parameters of Law and Development and their inter-connections in overcoming the challenges of development in different African countries.

4. undertake further critical research on the relationship between law, development and society and what contribution legal theory and institutions can make  towards the quest for socio-economic development in Africa

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: 60% unseen examination and 40% coursework (one 6,000 word essay). Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.

Suggested reading

Indicative Core Readings
  1. Adelman, S., &  Paliwala, A., Law and Crisis in the Third World (1993) Hans Zell Publishers
  2. Ake, C, Democracy and Development in Africa (1996) Washington Brookings Institute Press.
  3. Andreasson, S., “Orientalism and African Development Studies: The ‘Reductive Repetition’ Motif in Theories of African Underdevelopment” (2005) 26 Third World Quarterly, No. 6, pp.971-986
  4. Andreasson, S., “Thinking Beyond Development: The Future of Post-Development Theory in Southern Africa” (2007) http://www.open.ac.uk/socialsciences/bisa-africa/confpapers/Andreasson_BISA_2007.pdf
  5. Carty, A., (ed.) Law and Development (1992) Ashgate Publishers Ltd
  6. CDD-Ghana, “Governance, Democracy and Development in Africa: A Cultural Approach” (2001) Presented at the International Conference on the Cultural Approach to Development in Africa, Dakar, Senegal, 10-14 December 2001.
  7. Donnelly, S.J.M., “Reflecting on the Rule of Law: Its Reciprocal Relation with Rights, Legitimacy and Other Concepts and Institutions” (2006) 603 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, pp.37-53
  8. Fonchingong, T.N., “The State and Development in Africa” (2005)  African Journal of International Affairs, Nos. 1&2, pp.121
  9. Hare, P., “The Role of Law in Development and Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa” (1999) 30 Law and Policy in International Business
  10. Hatchard, J, and Perry-Kessaris, A., Law and Development: Facing Complexity in the 21st Century, (2003) Routledge Cavendish.
  11. Hope, Sr. K.R., “Development Solutions for Africa: The Need for Policy Reform and Good Governance” (1997) 25 A Journal of Opinion, No.1, p.35-38
  12. Matthews, S., “Post-Development Theory and the Question of Alternatives: A View from Africa” (2004) 25 Third World Quarterly, No.2, pp.373-384
  13. Ocran, T.M., Law in Aid of Development (1978) Ghana Publishing Corporation
  14. Seidman, A., et al (eds): Africa’s Challenge: Using Law for Good Governance and Development (2007) Africa World Press.
  15. Vyas, Y., et. al., Law and Development in the Third World (1994) University of Nairobi.
  16. Adejumobi, S., and Olukoshi, A., The African Union and New Strategies for Development in Africa (New York:Cambria Press, 2008).
  17.  Baderin, M.. A., 2010 Diaspora's Scholars Lecture - Law and Development in Africa: Towards a New Approach (Lagos: Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, 2010).
  18.  Kessides, C. The Urban Transition in Sub –Saharan Africa: Implications for Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction. (Washington DC: The Cities Alliance, 2006).
  19. Maathai, W., The Challenge for Africa: A New Vision (London: William Heinemann, 2009).
Indicative Supplementary Readings


  1. Hodgson, D.L., “Women’s Rights as Human Rights: Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF)” (2002) 49 Africa Today, No.2, pp.3-26
  2. Mkandawire, T., “Incentives, Governance and Capacity Development in Africa” (2002) 30 African Issues, No.1, pp.15-20
  3. Murungi, J., “The Academy and the Crisis of African Governance” (2004) 32 African Issues, pp. 9-23
  4. Olawuyi, D.S., “Achieving Sustainable Development in Africa through the Clean Development Mechanism” (2009) 17 African Journal of Comparative Law, pp. 270-301.
  5. Omotola, J.A., and Adeogun, A.A., (eds.) Law and Development (1984) Lagos University Press.
  6. Rist, G., The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith (2002) Zed Books
  7. Sako, Soumana, “Brain Drain and Africa’s Development: A Reflection” (2002) 30 Africa Issues, No.1, pp.25-30
  8. Sen, A., Development as Freedom (2001) Oxford University Press
  9. Sikod, F., Globalization and Rural Development in Africa (2006) Warwick Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation.
  10. Smith, I. O., “Sustainability of African Land Tenure Systems within the context of the UN Millennium Development Goals: Challenges and Responses” (2009) SOAS, School of Law Seminar Presentation.   
  11. Smith, I.O. (ed), Law and Development in Nigeria (2000) Ecowatch Pub. Ltd.
  12. Snyder, F.G., “Law and Development in the Light of Dependency Theory” (1980) 14 Law and Society Review, No.3, pp. 723-804
  13. Tamanaha, B.Z., “The Lessons of Law and Development Studies” (1995) 89 American Journal of International Law, No.2, pp.470-486
  14. Tiyambe, P. & McConnaughay, P., (eds): Human Rights, the Rule of Law and Development in Africa (2004) University of Pennsylvania Press.
  15. Trubek, D.M., “Toward a Social Theory of Law: An Essay on the Study of Law and