Research Group

Economic and Monetary Sovereignity in West Africa

Our research group investigates how West African societies have attempted to increase their political and economic sovereignty with a particular focus on the interaction between governments, finance and labor.

About the group

The research group led by Dr. habil. Kai Koddenbrock, investigates historically and in comparative fashion how West African societies have attempted to increase their political and economic sovereignty with a particular focus on the interaction between governments, finance and labor. The group will attempt to find out historically how most West African countries became exporters of only one or two commodities with the help of foreign capital and military force. In the second step we will focus on how postcolonial, newly independent governments have attempted to move away from this with the help of domestic resources, the creation of public and private banks, foreign debt and, most recently, stronger relations to China since independence. Increasing economic complexity, diversifying the economy and thus to reduce dependencies on the world market have been perennial pursuits but have often failed. The Covid crisis has put this into stark relief, again. How can we explain recurrent debt crises and the difficulties in moving away from raw commodity export dependency? Which role do global and domestic social relations play and what does that mean for the state in West Africa? To find answers to these questions we investigate the role of colonial legacies and the various attempts by governments to increase national self-determination through public policies to arrive at a nuanced picture of what can be done in the current global political economy.


Under the theme: “Facing the Socio-Ecological Crisis: Delinking and the Question of Global Reparations”, the Monetary and Economic Sovereignty conference which was held between the 25-28 October 2022 attracted leading scholars across the globe to Dakar. Caroline Cornier participated and has not written synthesis of all that was discussed and agreed.

Ghana, like most other countries, is currently dealing with a new debt crisis that has been blamed on covid-induced spending and the fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war. Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo Spoke with Lev Moscow of the A Correction podcast, arguing that far from Covid and Russia-Ukraine, the unfolding debt storm is rooted in historical, systemic and structural problems.  


Capital Claims: Power and Global Finance analyzes how global financialized capitalism operates and reproduces itself, exploring the remarkable ability of the financial sector to maintain its dominance through even the most severe economic crises.

The book defines international financialization as a process by which the number and value, the tradability, and the enforceability of cross-border financial claims increases and is successfully defended against competing social or political agendas. By focusing on financial claims, the volume develops a conceptual toolkit for the study of the political economy of global finance and the inequalities it sustains. The book brings together leading researchers whose work is geared towards opening the black box of cross-border finance. The authors suggest shifting the analytical focus from capital flows to capital claims – credit-debt relations between identifiable actors, embedded in social and political institutions, and infused with power and hierarchy. They show how financial actors wield leverage power, infrastructural power, and enforcement power, both vis-à-vis other private actors and vis-à-vis the state.

Braun, B., and K. Koddenbrock (Eds.), 2022, Capital Claims: Power and Global Finance (1st ed.), Routledge,

Despite a varied picture in terms of their relative economic strength, Developing and Emerging Economies (DEEs) remain in a subordinate position in the global monetary and financial system. While the IPE and economics literatures provide rich insights about the significance of this phenomenon, research efforts remain fragmented. To address this problem, we offer an umbrella concept—international financial subordination (IFS)—to channel research efforts towards cumulative theory-building. IFS is about unearthing why the structural power of finance takes a particularly violent form of expression in DEEs. To provide structure to IFS as a scholarly field, we first assess the contributions of IPE in analyzing various factors that reproduce IFS. To better ground these efforts in processes of accumulation and the histories of the relation between finance and (post)colonial development, we then offer a critical synthesis of three heterodox traditions—dependency theory, post-Keynesian economics, and Marxism. Next, we develop a pluridisciplinary research agenda organized around six analytical axes: the historical analysis of financial relations, the relations between financial and productive subordinations, the constitutive role of monetary relations as expressions of power, the role of the state, the actions and practices of non-state actors, and the spatial relations of financial subordination.

Alami, I., Alves, C., Bonizzi, B., Kaltenbrunner, A., Koddenbrock, K., Kvangraven, I. and J. Powell, 2022, International financial subordination: a critical research agenda, Review of International Political Economy, DOI: 10.1080/09692290.2022.2098359

The discipline of international relations has undergone a focus on medium-range theories and analyses. This consensus followed decades of self-assurance in the postwar period and the highly politicized 1970s. In view of the obviously conflictive struggle for global power and global relations of dependence, macro-theoretical perspectives that attempt to grasp the interplay of inner-societal and world-societal processes in political-economic terms are gaining in relevance. Using two examples of German foreign and foreign economic policy and the history of relations between Europe and Senegal, the article illustrates how such a political-economic analysis can be made fruitful for study of IR.

Koddenbrock, Kai, 2022, Die Relevanz der deutschen Internationalen Beziehungen und die Notwendigkeit polit-ökonomischer Konfliktanalyse, In: Bergem, W. and H. Schöne (eds.) Wie relevant ist die Politikwissenschaft?, Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

This briefing explains Ghana’s recent banking sector failures and renewed debt crisis as consequences of its uneven and deleterious integration into the global capitalist financial system, a situation that critical scholars in international political economy call international financial subordination.

Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo (2022) Collapsing banks and the cost of finance capitalism in Ghana, Review of African Political Economy, DOI: 10.1080/03056244.2022.2044300

Over forty years after the formal end of colonialism, suffocating ties to Western financial systems continue to prevent African countries from achieving any meaningful monetary sovereignty. Economic and Monetary Sovereignty in 21st Century Africa traces the recent history of African monetary and financial dependencies, looking at the ways African nations are resisting colonial legacies. Using a comparative, multi-disciplinary approach, the book uncovers what went wrong after the Pan-African approaches that defined the early stages of independence, and how most African economies fell into the firm grip of the IMF, World Bank, and the EU’s strict neoliberal policies.

The collection is the first to offer a wide-ranging, comparative and historical look at how African societies have attempted to increase their policy influence and move beyond neoliberal orthodoxy and US-dollar dependency. Economic and Monetary Sovereignty in 21st Century Africa is essential reading for anyone interested in the African quest for self-determination in a turbulent world of recurring economic and financial crisis.

Ben Ghada, M., Kaboub, F., Koddenbrock, K., I. Mahmoud and N. S. Sylla, 2021, “African monetary and economic sovereignty in the 21st century”, Pluto Books, London.


Our team

Kai Koddenbrock Bayreuth

Kai Koddenbrock

Research Group Leader

Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo

Research Associate

Caroline Cornier Bayreuth

Caroline Cornier

PhD Student

Carla Coburger Bayreuth

Carla Coburger

Research Associate

Hanna Estephan Eid Bayreuth

Hanna Estephan Eid

PhD Student

Fawziyya Suglo Kartu Issah

Fawziyya Suglo Kartu Issah

Student Assistant

Carolin Voß

Student Assistant

Felix Birkner

Felix Birkner

Student Assistant

International Advisors

Max Ajl

Max Ajl

Wageningen University, NL

Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven Kings College

Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven

King's College, London

Ndongo Samba Sylla

Ndongo Samba Sylla

Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Dakar

Selected Publications

Contact Us

Dr. habil. Kai Koddenbrock

Universität Bayreuth

Hugo-Rüdel-Straße 10

Room 310

D – 95545 Bayreuth

Phone: +49 921-550-5441


© Copyright Politics of Money. Images provided by Unsplash. 2021