The promise of development was taken to heart in virtually all African countries at independence. However, 50 years later, it remains unfulfi lled for the majority of the people. Many analysts have attributed the lack of development in Africa to external factors, such as trade imbalance, imperialism, and unfavorable Western development theories that have ranged from modernization to neoliberalism. Whereas this is true, it should be noted that some countries (such as those in Southeast Asia) that have faced similar external forces in the same period of time have managed to turn around their economic performance and improve the overall living conditions of their people. This calls for a closer examination of the signifi cance of internal factors in explaining the development crisis in Africa.