Africa Notes: Africa Reconsiders Its Parastatals - September 1984
September 4, 1984
Over the past two decades state-owned enterprises (variously referred to as SOEs or parastatals) have played a growing and, in some cases, pervasive role in the economies of African states. For three main reasons, state domination of the economy was accepted more or less automatically by the governments that came to power during the transition from colonial rule to independence:
(1) the directing force of economies under colonial rule was the imperial administration,
(2) the new African leadership viewed government control as a deterrent to neocolonialism, and
(3) suspicion of the motives of the private sector (deriving from pervasive foreign control of industrial development, combined with resentment of commerce-oriented ethnic minorities who in some cases controlled most of the distributive sector) encouraged a perception that the state should play the role of protector of the interests of the indigenous majority in the new nation.