Evaluating the Place of Decentralization and Devolution from the Centralized System of Governance in African Countries


  • Kinuthia Wamwangi
  • Benard Kodak


development, devolution, local government, nation


The developing world, particularly Africa, has witnessed tremendous development as a result of the transfer of political and economic power from central to local governments. This has been possible through the process of decentralization. This paper explores the transformation of decentralization from the units established by colonial governments through those established by the newly-independent African governments to the present-day devolved units for national and regional development. This paprer further prsents a critical examination of the concept of decentralization; an extremely significant factor in the establishment of devolution as the desired catalyst for development and responsive administration of nations in the new world order. It traces the historical growth of African states from the colonial period through independence to the present scope and purpose of national administration. Different countries in Africa are at different stages of implementation of decentralization. The paper examines the state of decentralization in Kenya, and other African countries as well as traces the transformation of local governments from the then colonial and newly-independent African states into the present-day devolved units known as counties in Kenya. Findings reveal that decentralization aims at entrenching democratic practices where the governed have a say in how they are governed, by electing their leaders at local and national levels and public participation in the prioritization of development projects at the local level. Conversely, proponents of decentralization argue that the unwillingness of central decision-makers to strengthen local institutions for fear of losing their own power is inconsistent with the democratic principles of decision-making and empowerment. There is a need to draw attention to the current economic dispensation that links decentralization to liberalization.