The primary purpose of this chapter is to reflect on the importance of good governance for development in sub-Saharan Africa. First, there is an attempt to define governance, ‘good governance’ and its importance or relevance for development. In this section, the debates questioning the role of governance in development are also raised. These debates suggest that growth and development enhance governance, rather than the other way around. Second, the chapter focuses on the concepts of ‘sustainable development’ and, more narrowly, on ‘human development’. Third, the state of human development in sub-Saharan Africa is analysed. Finally, the chapter examines the issues of governance in the education and health sectors, mainly because education and health outcomes are primary determinants of a nation's development status.
According to the United Nations (UNDESA, UNDP, UNESCO 2012: 3), governance ‘refers to the exercise of political and administrative authority at all levels to manage a country's affairs. It comprises the mechanisms, processes, and institutions, through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights, meet their obligations and mediate their differences’. In some instances, reference is made to democratic governance as ‘a process of creating and sustaining an environment for inclusive and responsive political processes and settlements’ (UNDP 2011). In this view, the institutional and human capacities for governance determine the way in which the effectiveness of public policies and strategies is attained, especially in service delivery.
International agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank thus view governance as the exercise of authority or power in order to manage a country's economic, political and administrative affairs. The 2009 Global Monitoring Report (UNESCO 2009), for instance, sees governance as ‘power relationships’, ‘formal and informal processes of formulating policies and allocating resources’, ‘processes of decision-making’ and ‘mechanisms for holding governments accountable’.
Broader definitions of governance encompass politics, policy, public administration, the interaction of these with civil society and the private sector, and the effects the various institutions have on socio-economic outcomes (WHO 2014).