International Politics
  1. Research students
International Politics

Bonfas Oduor-Owinga

PhD Student

Department of International Politics

E: bonfas.owinga.1@city.ac.uk

Thesis title: The Limitations of Civil Society in Post-Authoritarian Africa: A Comparative Study of Kenya and Zambia

Supervisors: Dr Tom Davies and Dr Sara Silvestri

Overview and research interests

The purpose of Bonfas's dissertation is to investigate comparatively the causes of civil society limitations in the post-authoritarian countries of Kenya and Zambia and how such limitations have negatively impacted the effectiveness of civil society in contributing to democratic consolidation. Despite democratic transition expanding the spaces for civil society work exponentially and relatively improving civil and political rights, the process has come with new limitations for civil society organizations that could limit their contribution to the crucial phase of democratic consolidation. Bonfas's research hypothesizes that these limitations of civil society in both Kenya and Zambia are as a result of the loss of a common locus of attention by civil society, administrative co-optation and political appropriation, changing donor funding strategies and modalities and post-authoritarian disappointment.

The project employs an empirical-analytical framework in studying civil society in Africa as opposed to the more dominant traditional theoretical normative perspective making the argument that the framework conceives civil society in a broader and more inclusive way and thus allows for the inclusion of Africa's diverse elements and manifestations of associational life including the informal, formal, traditional and ethnic associations as viable elements of civil society. It also broadens the social basis for democratic consolidation and focuses on the purpose of activity rather than the form of organization in defining civil society organizations.

Bonfas's study uses semi-structured in-depth-interviews to collect data for interpretative analysis but also draw evidence from existing quantitative data in order to provide causal explanations that are empirically convincing, reliable and credible but also corroborate the findings. The findings of this project will inform democratic theory building and generate insights that will be helpful in understanding the dynamics of civil society and democratic consolidation in Africa and the developing World. The dissertation will also recommend practical suggestions that can help rejuvenate civil society in the selected countries and beyond but also generate new ideas that could guide future research in the democratization process.

Bonfas holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Nairobi, a M.A. in Governance and Development from the University of Antwerp and he has been an International Philantropy Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies-Centre for Civil Society Studies of Johns Hopkins University.

Research Interests:

  • Comparative Politics with a focus on Africa
  • Governance and Development
  • Civil Society, Democratization
  • World Bank, Foreign Aid, Social Accountability
  • Areas of Specialization-Sub-Saharan Africa, Kenya and Zambia

Publications

  • "Budget Transparency and Participation in Kenya", with Albert Mwenda, in Marritt Claasens (ed.) Budget Transparency and Participation in Nine African Countries, Institute for Democracy in South Africa, 2006.
  • "Civil Society at Crossroads in Kenya: The need to Restrategize" In G21 Africa: The World's Magazine, 449, 2006.
  • "Why Kenya Improved in the 2008 Open Budget Index Score" In International Budget Partnership Newsletter, January/February 2009 No.47
  • "Budget Transparency and Accountability: The Critical Role of Access to Information", an article done for the Open Budget Initiative launch on November 2007 in Washington D.C
  • "Kenya Presents its 2005/2006 Budget amid Serious Challenges", in Africa Budget Watch Quarterly, July 2005.
  • "Parliamentary Oversight and the Budgetary Process: The Case of Kenya", Budget Policy Briefs, April 2004.
  • "Parliamentary Committees and Budget Transparency and Accountability in Kenya", Budget Policy Briefs, August 2005

Conference Presentations

  • "Civil Society at crossroads: The Post-Transition period in Kenya". Paper presented at the Association of Third World Studies-Winston-Salem State University-North Carolina (October 2006)
  • "PRSP and Participation: The Kenyan Experience". Paper presented at the Workshop on the World Bank, Singapore (September 2006)
  • "Participatory Budget Monitoring: The Case of Kenya". Paper presented at the Regional Expert Group Meeting on Social Accountability Initiatives in Anglophone Africa organized by the World Bank Institute in Kampala-Uganda (October 2004)
  • "Civil Society in Transitional Democracies: Kenya in new Political Experiment". Paper presented at the International Society for the Third Sector Research conference in Toronto-Canada (July 2004)
  • "NGOs-Donor Relations in Africa: Insights and experiences". Paper presented at the conference entitled "From Theory to Practice: NGOs and Development" of the Association for Research on Non-Profit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) in Denver-Colorado (November 2003)
  • "Social Exclusion and Multiculturalism: Kenya's Case". Paper presented at the Johns Hopkins Annual Philanthropy Fellows Conference in Sao Paolo-Brazil (June 2003)
  • "Kenya's National Budget: Transparency, Participation and Accountability". Paper presented at the International Budget Project Conference in Mexico City-Mexico (February 2003)
  • "Parliamentary Oversight and the Budgetary Process in Kenya". Paper presented at the Parliamentary Accountability Workshop, Mombasa, Kenya (August 2002)
  • "Debt Crisis and Poverty Reduction in Developing Countries". Paper presented at the Institute for Development Studies-University of Nairobi (May 2002)
  • "Multiple Accountability of NGOs in development work". Paper presented at theNational NGOs Assembly in Nairobi-Kenya (October 1999)
  • "East Africa Co-operation: Which way Forward?". Paper presented at Makerere University-Kampala-Uganda (May 1999)

Teaching

  • Theories of Global Politics (IP1011, a.y. 2010/11 and 2011/12)
  • Theories of Global Politics and Research (IP 2012, a.y. 2012/13)