The emergence of regulatory capitalism in Africa

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Economy and Society, Volume 50, Number 1, p.100–119 (2021)



<p>As part of conceptualizing a form of capitalism specific to the African continent, this paper offers an institutional study of the development of regulatory institutions in Africa, suggested by and suggestive to current theoretical accounts of regulation and its relationship to capitalism. Recent scholarship has sketched a vision of regulatory capitalism that has much traction in the now-emerged discipline of governance but less in that of economics. That vision depends upon functioning regulatory institutions and effective enforcement strategies. Drawing from both disciplines and from the varieties of capitalism literature, this paper examines how and to what extent the African continent can be characterized as a regulatory region.One of the processes by which Africa has become a regulatory region is the founding of public regulatory agencies. Another is the growth and spread of firms and practices associated with regulatory capitalism. Reflective of these processes, attention at both national and regional levels within Africa to the establishment and operation of competition regimes, to complementary regulatory regimes (with attention here to the telecommunications and public procurement fields), and to the rise and significance of African regional economic communities provides evidence for envisioning Africa as a regulatory region. This evidence suggests that the exploration of a distinctively African variety of regulatory capitalism is warranted.</p>


Publisher: Routledge _eprint:

Law and Personhood

The assembling of a new set of South African and global citizenships has taken on new urgency and a new plurality twenty years after the supposed advent of freedom. Categories make persons and persons make categories, as Jones and Dlamini have recently pointed out. In the South African constitutional text – where the phrase ‘categories of persons’ is written – race is but one of sixteen categories on the formal list. The Constitutional Court has added more.  Indeed, the effort of desegregating publics now takes place without the freshness of new symbols and with potentially stale institutions. In the public sphere, some responses to this era of citizenship reformation harken back to earlier times – either to times of forward-thinking, to times of social-making, or even to times of separating. Other responses rest in a consumptive present or appear as mere promised rhetorical bridges into the future. In this project WISER will examine the new questions that scholars in law, society and the humanities are posing themselves and others. What are the complex fashions in which bounded enclaves and social categories are fraying and unravelling or reforming? How, if at all, are persons remaking themselves as citizens? At the same time that these questions pose themselves, new fields of play are emerging with the changing audiences of the fashion shops and the sports terrains as well as the changing forms and formats of affluence and the new middle class. The very concept of a person as well as their categorical boundaries may shift with the movement of blood, organs, and self-awareness.