Coups, Military Rule and Autocratic Consolidation in Angola and Nigeria

This book provides a unique explanation of why Angola and Nigeria—Africa’s two largest oil-producing nations—have experienced different political and economic outcomes since attaining independence. It explains why Asian-led oil-for-infrastructure deals materialised in Angola but failed in Nigeria between 2004 and 2007. One hypothesis of the natural resource curse is that resource wealth leads to underdevelopment because it entrenches autocracy, but that fails to explain the different political economy outcomes in Angola and Nigeria, which were both predominantly autocratic post-independence. The book reveals, through the application of a game-theoretic model, that Angola’s José Eduardo dos Santos successfully used the country’s oil wealth to consolidate power early in his reign by eliminating potential threats to his dictatorial ambitions. He ruled for 38 years, and thus represented one of Africa’s longest autocracies, but was eventually upended by his own ruling party—an unusual outcome. By contrast, no Nigerian leader attained the same level of consolidation over oil or power. Perennial contestation for power—through multiple successful military coups—resulted in an uneven evolution towards a more open and competitive political settlement. The findings of this book will deepen the reader’s understanding of the resource curse and illuminate the importance of tailoring governance solutions to reflect the specificities of any resource-wealthy context.


Ross Harvey has a keen interest in natural resource governance and the evolution of political economies. He read for an MPhil in Public Policy at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and completed his PhD in Economics at the same institution while working as a Senior Researcher at the South African Institute of International Affairs. He is currently the Director of Research and Programmes at Good Governance Africa and a Senior Research Associate at the Institute for the Future of Knowledge at the University of Johannesburg.

“Harvey’s compelling study adds significantly to our understanding of the “resource curse” that has bedevilled many oil-rich countries in Africa and elsewhere. Tracing the political and economic trajectories of two of the African continent’s oil-producing giants, Nigeria and Angola, he applies an innovative game-theoretic analysis to explain the two countries’ distinct developmental outcomes. The book will be of great interest to scholars and advanced students of African and comparative politics and development. It also offers valuable insights for practitioners looking to improve governance in resource-rich countries.”
Professor Anthony Butler
Professor of Political Studies, University of Cape Town

“Coups, Military Rule and Autocratic Consolidation is an excellent book that makes a solid contribution to scholarship and to the literature on oil and its influence in institutional formation and evolution in Angola and Nigeria.”
Alex Vines, OBE, PhD,
Director, Africa Programme, Chatham House; Assistant Professor, Coventry University, UK

“This book successfully clarifies some of the core issues and challenges that bedevil development in Africa. Why do African nations, well-endowed with natural resources, continue to be associated with dismal development, corruption and poor governance? Can extractive industries in Africa ever be harnessed to reduce rent-seeking behaviour by elite governing groups? Can African nations, dependant on resource extraction, ever develop institutional arrangements that are truly compatible with global engagement? Ross Harvey provides a cogent insight into the often opaque arrangements that govern elite politics in Africa by unpacking the impact of oil-for-infrastructure deals on institutional formation, factional diversity, and the differing political settlements that have developed within Angola and Nigeria.”
Harry Stephan
Director of Stephan Bros; former Lecturer in Political Economy, University of Cape Town

“An enduring puzzle in the development economics literature is why some resource-rich economies perform better than others. Drawing from game theory, economic history and political economy, Ross Harvey makes an original and compelling contribution to the “resource curse” literature by examining the causes of the institutional divergence of two oil rich countries, Angola and Nigeria. The book will be essential reading for scholars in political economy and development economics.”
Kunal Sen
Director, United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER); Professor of Development Economics, University of Manchester

Buy This Book

ISBN: 1-5275-6076-7

ISBN13: 978-1-5275-6076-5

Release Date: 22nd December 2020

Pages: 220

Price: £61.99

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