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.


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

An der Universität Bayreuth beschäftigt sich in der kommenden Woche mit den Wechselwirkungen von Ökonomie, Sicherheits- und Außenpolitik. Unter dem Titel: „Von Wertschöpfungsketten und Sicherheitsapparaten“ treffen sich am 24. und 25. Februar Mitglieder der Deutschen Vereinigung für Politikwissenschaft (DVPW) aus ganz Deutschland. These der von Kai Koddenbrock und Sophia Hoffmann ausgerichteten Veranstaltung ist, dass innergesellschaftliche Konflikte immer auch zusammen mit außenpolitischen und außenwirtschaftlichen Entwicklungen verstanden werden müssen. Dabei soll der Zusammenhang von (nicht)staatlichen Sicherheitsapparaten wie Militär, (Grenz)Polizei, Nachrichtendiensten, bewaffneten Gruppen, Sicherheitsfirmen und wirtschaftlichen Infrastrukturen, ihrer Herstellung und Pflege sichtbar werden

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.


In this recent talk at the University of Leeds seminar on Finance and Neocolonialism in Africa, Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo discussed historical and contemporary forms of finance-based capitalist exploitation in Africa. From structural adjustment to the boom of Chinese lending and the spread of fintechs, he argued that neo-colonial finance, more than anything else, has frustrated African development and kept the continent indebt.

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The recently published book bridges the gap between classical and more recent conceptions of political economy and discusses their explanatory power and practical relevance. It deals with the driving forces and dynamics of capitalist development, the crises and causes of economic instability, the significance of interests and discourses, power and domination relations, and forms of political-institutional regulation.

Bieling, H.-J., C. Coburger and P. Klösel, 2021, “Kapitalismusanalysen. Klassische und Neue Konzeptionen der Politischen Ökonomie”, Wochenschau Verlag, UTB.

Finance plays a major role in discussions about state capitalism in emerging markets, but the focus has so far been on banks. Capital markets have been neglected. Moreover, findings from the growing literature on financialization in emerging markets indicate that in some cases there is increasing state involvement in the development and functioning of capital markets. Hence, the relationship between the state and finance in these economies may be fundamentally different from the picture provided by liberal Western-centric perspectives. Instead of looking at capital markets as uniform entities, we propose to analyse them as variegated – while characterized by common financialization processes, they can be informed by different institutional logics, leading to very different market dynamics and outcomes. We explore to what extent these differences exist and how state-capitalist economies facilitate capital market development. Our comparative institutional analysis of securities exchanges as central parts of capital markets in six increasingly financialized emerging market economies – Brazil, China, India, Russia, South Africa and South Korea – focuses on the degree to which capital markets are integrated into state-capitalist institutions. Instead of mere platforms on which market transactions take place, we analyse exchanges as powerful actors which actively shape capital markets. While in most advanced economies exchanges are situated within an institutional setting informed by neoliberal institutional logic, we demonstrate that exchanges in emerging markets often organize capital markets to facilitate state objectives.

Petry J, Koddenbrock K, Nölke A. State capitalism and capital markets: Comparing securities exchanges in emerging markets. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. October 2021.

The BR produced a radio program that dealt with the dollar as the world’s leading currency. For the USA, this is a very comfortable situation. For example, they can enforce de facto US boycotts worldwide. Hardly any state or large company can afford to be cut off from the dollar-based financial system.

Click here to check out the radio show

Our team

Kai Koddenbrock Bayreuth

Kai Koddenbrock

Research Group Leader

Isaac Abotebuno Akolgo Bayreuth

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

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