The Politics of Paternalism and Implications of Global Governance on Africa: A Critique of the Sustainable Development Goals

  • Samuel Ojo Oloruntoba


Following the self-conceited civilising missions of the colonialists, Africa has been a laboratory where all forms of development strategies have been experimented. From the structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s through the Millennium Development Goals to the nascent Sustainable Development Goals, the developed countries have taken a paternalistic posture to helping Africa escape poverty. Despite the failures of previous programmes, new ones are formulated with little or no input from the supposed beneficiaries. The ‘Africa-saving’ humanitarian and development agenda has recently found a voice in anti-trafficking and ‘neo-slavery’ campaigns. Indices such as the Global Slavery Index and the US Trafficking in Persons rankings have become the latest control and compliance mechanisms. This paper examines the politics of paternalism in Africa within this broad context. It examines the power asymmetry that defines the relationship, the contradictions within the sustainable development goals and the imperative of self-reliance and ownership of development strategies on the continent. I argue that the SDGs and associated anti-slavery, anti-trafficking and other humanitarian concerns in Goal 8.7 among others neither address the structural problems and the inefficiency in the current global economic system that perpetuate poverty and inequality in Africa nor did they give enough space for the continent to plan its own future.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel Ojo Oloruntoba
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Thabo Mbeki African Leadership InstituteUniversity of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Visiting Scholar, Institute of African StudiesCarleton UniversityOttawaCanada

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