During the last two decades decentralization and federalization have been developing in a large number of countries, including the formerly communist states of Eastern Europe but also in Asia and Africa. The decentralization policies implemented have changed the institutional landscapes in these countries. Many of the powers previously in the hands of the central government or its deconcentrated structures have been transferred to decentralized levels of government. Additionally, in a recent but increasingly widespread trend, local governments are gradually emerging as development actors and are now being assigned responsibilities for territorial development.
Decentralization poses several questions: What real responsibilities should be assigned to the decentralized tiers of government? What concomitant own resources, what transfers, and what equalization mechanisms should be maintained or introduced? What are the origins and causes of these moves toward greater decentralization? Does actual decentralization on the ground coincide with the decentralization intended—as written in constitution or law? How can gaps between intended and actual decentral- ization be explained? Does the existing institutional design hinder decentralization, or can it be rethought and reformed to encourage even deeper decentralization?.
This interesting book tries to answer these questions by focusing in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region of the world less present in our European academic radar.