Modernization, Dependency and Structural Adjustment Development Theories and Africa: A Critical Appraisal

Alfred G Nhema, Tawanda Zinyama


This article seeks to review the early development theories that have dominated the development path in Africa over a number of decades. First, the paper reviews the modernisation theory which dominated the literature on development theory in the 1950s/60s as the former colonies attained their independence. Second, the paper examines the dependency theory which was a critical response to the modernisation paradigm. Third, the paper assesses the nature and form of neo liberal prescriptions that came to be known as Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) offered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) from the 1980s to the 1990s. Finally, the paper explores the relevance and impact of the identified development theories to the development of Africa.

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