Chapter 21: The African corporation, ‘Africapitalism’ and regional integration in Africa
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The ‘varieties of capitalism’ literature ignores Africa; suggesting that ‘the African multinational corporation’ exists might therefore sound heretical. Yet, behind the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative stand indigenous multinational business enterprises exporting capital and making long-term investments in Africa and beyond. This chapter maps the rise of the African multinational corporation (MNC) and explores its challenge to the hegemonic scholarship on the international political economy of the corporation. It discusses their size, magnitude and fields of accumulation, and maps the ecology from which these firms emerged. It finds that the emergent state_African MNC relationship is characterized by ‘developmental neopatrimonialism’, that is, resulting in economic growth, employment creation, linkages with other sectors of the economy, and increases in national tax base. In contrast to emerging MNCs from China, India and Brazil, they are not backed by any state ideology or vision of a world order, even though their emergence is linked to national and regional economic and political reforms. Their negligible state backing is limited to economic rents that enable MNCs to substitute for the state in providing for the well-being of citizens and contributing to the fiscus. Their pan-African vision and agenda (‘Africapitalism’) are, instead, articulated by leading entrepreneurs motivated by a sense of place and unique African heritage to take the lead in the continent’s development through ‘impact investment’ to create social wealth. The African experience suggests that, in addition to emerging MNCs’ similarities, greater attention needs to be paid to notions of ‘place’ and ‘heritage’ as critical factors shaping both cross-border regionalization and the expansion of emerging MNCs in the twenty-first century.

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