This introductory chapter provides an overview of Africa’s decentralisation efforts. There are four main forms of government in Africa: the federal, the federal hybrid (quasi-federal or federal-type), the unitary, and the monarchical. As such, the precise objectives and nature of the decentralisation programmes in Africa today vary from one country to another. In most cases, the overall goal is similar: to bring governance closer to the people and make it more democratic, accountable, and responsive to their needs, thereby enhancing the prospects for constitutionalism, good governance, and respect for the rule of law. The prominence given to decentralisation in the design of modern African governance systems in the last three decades is such that it has been likened to a ‘silent revolution’. This book then explores the impact of decentralisation on Africa’s struggle to entrench and sustain an ethos of constitutionalism.
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