George Ayittey

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George Ayittey : biography

1945 –

George Ayittey (born 1945) is a Ghanaian economist, author and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington DC. He is a professor at American University, and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He has championed the argument that "Africa is poor because she is not free", that the primary cause of African poverty is less a result of the oppression and mismanagement by colonial powers, but rather a result of modern oppressive native autocrats. He also goes beyond criticism to advocate for specific ways to address the abuses of the past and present; specifically he calls for democratic government, debt reexamination, modernized infrastructure, free market economics, and free trade to promote development.


Ayittey holds a B.Sc. in Economics from the University of Ghana, Legon, an M.A. from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, and a Ph.D. from the University of Manitoba. He has taught at Wayne State College and Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. He held a National Fellowship at the Hoover Institution in 1988-89, and then joined The Heritage Foundation as a Bradley Resident Scholar. He founded The Free Africa Foundation in 1993, to serve as a catalyst for reform in Africa. In 2008 Dr. Ayittey was listed by Foreign Policy as one of the "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" who "are shaping the tenor of our time"., Foreign Policy He lives in Lorton, Virginia.

Political Views

Ayittey believes there are three keys to successfully rescuing Africa from oppressive despotism:

  • First, he advocates forming coalitions consisting of small groups of "elders" who have no political ties and monitor the activities of the various opposition groups. Ayittey explains "They must be able to reach out to all the opposition groups." "The council should bring all of the opposition into an alliance ", which would prevent dictators from steam rolling the severely divided competition.
  • Second, you have to gain control of the civil service, security forces, judiciary, election centers, and national bank. Ayittey sees control of at least one of these resources as central to subverting dictatorial power in African countries. These organizations are currently staffed by cronies of dictators throughout Africa.
  • Third, and finally you have to use the correct sequence of reform.


  • Indigenous African Institutions, Transnational Publishers, 1991; 2nd ed., 2004
  • The Blueprint for Ghana’s Economic Recovery, Africana Publishers, 1997
  • Africa Betrayed, St. Martin’s Press,, 1992
  • Africa in Chaos, St. Martin’s Press, 1998. by Jeremy Harding for The New York Times
  • Africa Unchained: the blueprint for development, Palgrave/MacMillan, 2004
  • Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyrants in Africa and Around the World published September 2011.