Original Research

African bureaucracy and public administration: Analysing the normative impediments and prospects

Chinyeake J. Igbokwe-Ibeto
Africa’s Public Service Delivery & Performance Review | Vol 7, No 1 | a323 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/apsdpr.v7i1.323 | © 2019 Chinyeake J. Igbokwe-Ibeto | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2019 | Published: 18 November 2019

About the author(s)

Chinyeake J. Igbokwe-Ibeto, School of Public Management, Governance and Public Policy, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Background: Public perception of bureaucracy and public administration is key to determining how much they can accomplish in a given environment. The pejorative view of bureaucrats and public administrators is not restricted to Africa. Although they are sometimes seen as one and the same, analytically they can be divorced.

Aim: Within the framework of system theory, this article analysed the interface between African bureaucracy and public administration with the aim of identifying its impediments and prospects.

Setting: Relevant sources of this research were fairly and professionally scrutinised, understood and tested with the available literature for the research purpose. Inter alia, it included scan-reading, comprehensive and critical reading and writing down ideas. Authoritative scholarly sources were reviewed during a desktop study. The purpose was to identify the relevant publications and apply them in the research.

Methods: This article utilised qualitative research design and descriptive methods to gain an insight into the nature and character of African bureaucracy and public administration. It is also exploratory because the article attempts to explore the nexus between African bureaucracy and public administration.

Result: This article argues that African bureaucracy is losing its potency and ability to give intellectual leadership to public administrators. Bureaucrats in the field rely too much on discretion that often does not sit well with the people and result in poor service delivery.

Conclusion: It therefore concludes that the poor state of affairs in African bureaucracy could change if the bureaucracy opens up to administrative reforms, particularly those that add value to their activities and actions. In this era of globalisation, international best practices should be domesticated.


Africa; public administration; bureaucracy; impediments; prospects.


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