Anticolonial capitalism: How Ghana came to embrace market-led development theory (the 1970s-1990s)


  • Frank Gerits Utrecht University, Netherlands



Capitalism, Dependency theory, International Monetary Fund, Jerry Rawlings, Keynesianism, Neoliberalism, World Bank


The shift from the Keynesian welfare state to the neoliberal market society is understood to have taken place in the Global North between, the 1970s and the 1990s while the Global South was forced to accept the economic liberalization and austerity, as devised by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This article redresses this imbalance by studying how African economists, sociologists and politicians in Ghana co-wrote neoliberal development theory, co-created an anticolonial definition of capitalism and shaped Ghanaian diplomacy which sought to create a different kind of economic order. When Jerry Rawlings staged his final coup in 1981, he transformed from someone with vague socialist sympathies into a leader who spearheaded market reform and applied for loans from the World Bank and the IMF. Rather than a cynical move to retain power, this article argues he and his advisers were part of a broader intellectual shift in which African Socialism, dependency theory and Marxism were rejected as ineffective. Instead, the market came to be wielded as a new weapon for anticolonial liberation in the 1970s and 1980s. Principal thinkers with a connection to Rawlings were Jonathan H. Frimpong-Ansah, Kwesi Botchwey and James C.W. Ahiakpor. They are analysed in this article which explores the intellectual foundation of a political regime that fundamentally changed Ghana in the 1980s.


Download data is not yet available.



How to Cite

Gerits, F. (2022). Anticolonial capitalism: How Ghana came to embrace market-led development theory (the 1970s-1990s). Southern Journal for Contemporary History, 47(1), 4-26.