Determinants of success in African local governments: An overview

Dele Olowu, Paul Smoke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A potentially useful method for determining how to design viable and competent local government systems is to examine local authorities that function effectively. This paper synthesizes the major findings of seven case studies of ‘successful’ local governments in Sub‐saharan Africa, highlighting the principal factors contributing to their success and exploring ways in which they could further improve their performance. The determinants of success identified in the studies include: location in an area with an adequate economic base; well‐defined responsibilities in a satisfactory legal framework; capacity to mobilize sufficient resources; supportive central government activities; and appropriate management practices, including development of productive internal and external relations and satisfactory responsiveness to constituents. All of these factors are considered to be necessary, but none is independently sufficient to guarantee success, which is a multidimensional and cumulative process of achievement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Administration and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Public Administration


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