Media coverage of African development usually focuses on countries like Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya -- high-growth countries where political and civil liberties are relatively well-protected. But if Asia had its "tigers," Africa has its "lions," countries such as the East African nations of Rwanda, Ethiopia and Uganda that are successfully combining political repression and economic development.
The New Politics of African Development
Western aid donors prefer development outcomes that combine economic growth with political and civil liberties. But a number of recent trends have opened up new possibilities for African development. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, where repressive leaders have employed savvy development strategies, success has created challenges, for both development theory and Western policymakers.
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Seventeen years after the genocide, Rwanda is widely considered one of the world's great development successes. But there may be no head of state more simultaneously adored and reviled than its president, Paul Kagame, a man acclaimed as a liberator and visionary by some and scorned as a war criminal and enemy of human rights by others.
Though the Ethiopian government's character has evolved over the years, overall it can be characterized as an authoritarian regime. As a result, its path to growth raises challenging questions about the problematic relationship between authoritarianism and economic development.