In the heat of decolonisation, the deceptively simple concept of ‘development’ was born. Whereas the interwar colonial regimes had been far more concerned with sound administration and with balancing their books, their post-war successors sought to morally rearm themselves by presenting the state as the harbinger of economic development and social improvement. At independence, African regimes commandeered the package, encouraged by newly established international organisations, like the World Bank and the tentacular agencies of the United Nations that proliferated after 1945. It became an unquestioned assumption that African countries would add annually to their GDP growth rates and their living standard indices as part of a global human progression. As we have seen, African rulers believed that they had to jet propel themselves if they were to catch up with the advance party.
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