Africa's re-democratization project set in motion more than two decades ago has produced varying outcomes. Factors such as political character of the state, cognitive resources and intervention strategies of core elites, commitment to democratic stewardship, social cohesion, diversity of resilience-resources, tolerance may combine to produce hybrid outcomes. This piece explores the state of democracy and appropriate governance in natural resource-dependent countries in a changing international political environment; examines how incumbents' access to oil revenue creates morbid structures that favour particular groups and undermine operational efficiency of the political system. Insights from country case studies are subjected to frameworks for democratic analysis, the natural resource curse debate, and governance focused analysis. Contrary to the view that politics in oil-dependent African countries is influenced by deep-rooted ethnic loyalties; entangled transitions and transformations that have taken place since the end of the Cold War have resulted in social differentiation that has produced strategic groups interaction and communication networks whose actors have become dominant forces in government, military, industry, in articulating demands on the political system. Hence, research attention should be given to economic study of social structure in order to reveal the political character of new actors and refine our patterns of interpretation of social and political change.
Key words: Natural resources, Third scramble for Africa, democracy, strategic groups, social networks, accumulation.
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