Model students: Policy emulation, modernization, and Kenya's Vision 2030

E.E. Fourie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Contemporary scholarship on policy making in Africa tends either to view the process as being entirely divorced from international policy lessons and experiences, or to portray policy makers as prone to unreflective imitation of whichever countries happen to be economically and politically ascendant. Kenya's Vision 2030 demonstrates both of these assumptions to be flawed: not only have Kenyan planners and technocrats consciously emulated foreign models in the formulation and execution of this long-term development plan, but the way in which they have done this is embedded in a historical reading of Kenya's development trajectory as well as the trajectories of those countries from which lessons are drawn. Thus, Vision 2030 bears the imprint of Singaporean and Malaysian policies, rather than only the more modish "Chinese Model". Far from heralding the birth of an entirely new East Asia-inspired development paradigm, this emulation echoes the early years of post-colonial Kenya, when technologically optimistic planners such as Tom Mboya sought to guide the country along the path of modernization, deploying tools such as technocratic rule, rapid economic growth, and social engineering. The Kenyan case therefore demonstrates processes of policy emulation in Africa to be both more prevalent and more nuanced than is commonly assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-562
Number of pages22
JournalAfrican Affairs
Issue number453
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2014

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