Unravelling Africa’s misgovernment: How state failures fuel the emergence of violent non-state actors: Selected case studies

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the multifaceted challenges post-colonial African states face in addressing underdevelopment and ethnoreligious intolerance, resulting in an unstable socio-economic and political environment. It argues that the inability of post-independent African states to foster good governance, accountability, and inclusive politics has given rise to violent non-state actors (VNSAs) seeking to challenge the state’s legitimacy due to its failure to provide essential services. With Africa’s diverse ethnoreligious makeup, the fragmentation in governance inevitably incites rebellion against the state, fuelling the growth and influence of VNSAs. This paper utilizes a literature review methodology to address the research question and provide insights into the subject matter. By employing the concept of state fragility as an analytical framework, it examines how political elitism and corruption have come to define the modern African state. As a result, violent non-state actors (VNSAs) have emerged as significant challengers to the established rules-based order of the state. Furthermore, these VNSAs find support among marginalized local populations, which have grown disillusioned with political elites exploiting their power and neglecting their responsibility to deliver essential services. In light of these findings, this paper underscores the urgent need for a collective developmental framework that prioritizes the involvement of the African people in the governance process. Without such a framework, VNSAs will persist in questioning the state’s legitimacy, leading to dire repercussions for human life and the overall stability of the continent.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2228127
JournalCogent Social Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Conflict
  • development
  • government
  • security

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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