SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies collaborates with Mo Ibrahim Foundation and SOAS Radio on webinar series

30 April 2019

Centre of African Studies at SOAS University of London will be holding the second event in its Governance and Development in Africa webinar series this week hosted jointly with The Mo Ibrahim Foundation and SOAS Radio.

Dr Felix Marco Conteh, who completed his PhD at SOAS University of London in 2014 under the Mo Ibrahim Foundation PhD Scholarship programme will be discussing Sierra Leone. Dr Conteh’s webinar entitled 'Twists and Turns: the unpredictable trajectory of decentralization in Sierra Leone' will be chaired by Dr Alastair Fraser and is the second in the series. The first webinar “Reflections on the Genesis of a Contemporary Ethiopian Feminist Movement” was given by Sehin Teferra, a Mo Ibrahim Scholar (2010-2013) who co-founded 'Setaweet', a contemporary Ethiopian feminist movement. 

The aim of the webinars is to reach a wide and diverse audience worldwide. Anyone interested with access to internet connection (from a computer or a smartphone) as well as via dialling phone will be able to attend the live online seminar. They will have an opportunity to ask questions relative to the lecture topic at the end of the session through the live chat. The format will be an hour-long-event, comprising of a 30 minutes lecture, 10 minutes for the chair’s question and 20 minutes open Q&A through the live chat.

The Governance and Development in Africa Webinars are one part of CAS' Governance for Development in Africa programme, supported by and in collaboration with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation. The other activities in this programme are: two annual PhD scholarships for African nationals to study at SOAS (see more here: and an annual residential school on governance and development.

Abstract of Dr Conteh’s webinar:

In 2004 the Government of Sierra Leone reactivated elected local councils through an ambitious post-war decentralization programme funded by the World Bank, after a hiatus of 32 years. While the official justification for the programme is embedded in technical notions of expanding space for citizens’ participation and improvements in social services, one can also observe a political class less committed to dispersing power, except for purposes of regime survival exemplified in the need to leverage donors’ ‘largess’ amid dwindling local resources, as well as playing potential competitors such as civil servants, local councils, NGOs and Chiefs against each other.

The level of recentralization experienced in the immediate post-Ebola period, illustrates the Government’s lack of ideological commitment to any specific governance configuration including decentralization, and a willingness to preserve its power. This then makes the trajectory of decentralization unpredictable, with adverse implications for medium to long term governance and development planning processes.

You can find more information and sign up for the webinars on the event page.