This volume reviews Africa's past experiences of social policy, focusing on healthcare, education, the labour market and social welfare. What stands out from these studies is how well the post-colonial nationalist leaders understood the positive links between social policy, economic development, and nation building. The deficit of democratic governance is the more significant failing of the period. However, rather than fix the democratic deficit, these studies show that what structural adjustment programmes did was to undermine economic and social policy, while reducing governance to a set of instrumental objectives. Further, we need to transcend the idea of the state and civil society as antagonistic forces. Where this has happened, there has been successful extension of social protection and the widening of access to health and education. The lessons for rebuilding Africa are obvious: economic development and social policy are mutually inclusive, and active social policy promotes national cohesion.

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