Political Instability in Africa: A Rent-Seeking Approach

Document Type


Publication Date



During the twenty-eight years from 1956 to 1984 fifty-six (56) coups occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa (McGowan and Johnson, 1984). Several more have taken place since, and this tally excludes the number of unsuccessful attempts and plots. The high rate of political instability in the region makes it fertile ground for the study of politically destabilizing activities. As a corollary the economies of many of these countries have continued to stagnate. Arguably, the level of political instability has been a significant factor in the lack of progress experienced by the continent's economies. In addition to diverting resources from productive activities to the pursuance of violent activities, the general instability has increased the cost of transacting business by increasing the probability of losing life or limb as well as property. The first step in breaking the cycle of government creation and destruction is identifying the underlying determinants of the existing political instability. The identification of the determinants of political instability in Sub-Saharan African nations is the central focus of this research effort.