This article analyzed and compared the political responses to Africa’s twenty-first century versus twentieth century economic and financial crises in order to explicate the dynamics of policy innovation and continuity. Based on studies of Francophone countries, this comparative institutional analysis proposed direct attention to how ideas (paradigms), interests (strategies of the elites), institutions (national and international) and the temporal context affected political and institutional outcomes. Since the emergence of independent African states, many economic and financial crises have emerged and resulted in path dependent or paradigmatic changes: state interventionism, state capitalism, structural adjustment, privatization, liberalization, progressive dismantling of the interventionist state, interventions of the international financial institutions, regional partnerships for development, poverty reduction strategies, and new public management. Twenty-first century policies constituted a paradigmatic shift compared to the previously nationalist, interventionist, protectionist, and state-centered African policies of the early twentieth century. However, they constitute continuity when compared to neoliberal and market-friendly measures introduced by international financial institutions during the 1980s. Explanations of policy responses lead to newly developed concepts, institutional intrusion (semi-strategic and semi-structural) and inclusion (semi-strategic and semi-ideational), which explain Francophone Africa’s transformations and has implications for comparative politics in developing countries.
Key words: Francophone Africa, economic, financial, crisis, institutional intrusion, institutional inclusion, political innovation.
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