Privatisation and liberalisation in the agricultural sector: an examination of processes and outcomes in three African cases


Authors:  Sjaastad,E.; Kaarhus,R.; Vedeld,P.


Noragric, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (2007)

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This report assesses issues surrounding promotion of privatisation and liberalisation measures by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the context of African primary production. It analyses the overall and distributional impacts of these policies, with reference to case studies in three African countries: Malawi (agricultural marketing), Mozambique (cashew nut industry) and Uganda (forest sector reform).

General conclusions that emerge from the study are:

  • privatisation should be seen as an instrument but is often seen as a goal; this encourages faulty diagnosis of social problems, automatic prescription of a cure, and a failure properly to identify and analyse policy alternatives; it also tends to polarise debates around privatisation efforts
  • recent trends include the emergence of consensus-building within groups of multi- and bi-lateral donors, the increasing participation of these groups in the policy articulation of developing countries, and an associated emergence of policy decisions as negotiated compromise; these trends have caused an erosion of accountability, both within government and among donors
The authors offer the suggestion that policy reforms should require:
  • contextualised knowledge
  • a diagnosis of opportunities and obstacles
  • an evaluation of the adaptation of current institutions versus creation of new ones
  • review of proposals by main stakeholders
  • sufficient time for sound implementation
  • rigorous monitoring and evaluation of input-output implementation and impacts
  • downward accountability of policy implementers
  • Additionally they highlight that large or controversial policy reforms require
  • testing alternatives under proper monitoring
  • broad based policy design teams followed by a review process among main stakeholders