Tetteh Hormeku-Ajei, member of the Post-Colonialisms Today Working Group, discusses the role of the state in Africa during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite decades of weakening public infrastructure through liberalization, marketization, and privatization, African governments relied on the health infrastructure that was built in the immediate post-independence times to tackle this public health crisis. Nevertheless, there were limitations in state capacity and institutions due to disinvestment and the lack of policy or fiscal space to transform them given the primary commodity export dependent structure of African economies. Leaders from the decolonization era recognized the need for investment in public infrastructure to achieve economic and political sovereignty. Hormeku-Ajei argues that this is a lesson that can be applied to current day African states, to combat the ruin brought by neoliberalism and made worse through the pandemic.
This presentation was part of the Post- Colonialisms Today webinar, “Lessons from the Decolonization Era in Confronting the COVID-19 Crisis.”