George Ayittey

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George Ayittey
Born13 October 1945 (1945-10-13)
Died28 January 2022(2022-01-28) (aged 76)
Academic career
InstitutionAmerican University
FieldPolitical economics
Alma materUniversity of Manitoba
University of Western Ontario
University of Ghana

George B. N. Ayittey (13 October 1945 – 28 January 2022) was a Ghanaian economist, author, and president of the Free Africa Foundation in Washington, D.C. He was a professor at American University,[1][better source needed] and an associate scholar at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.[2]

He 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 and socialist central planning policies.[3] He also went beyond criticism of the status quo to advocate for specific ways to address the abuses of the past and present; specifically he called for democratic government, debt reexamination, modernized infrastructure, free market economics, and free trade to promote development.


Ayittey attended Adisadel College for his secondary education and held 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 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.[2] Ayittey served on the advisory board of Students For Liberty and also worked closely with the Atlas Network.

He founded The Free Africa Foundation in 1993 to serve as a catalyst for reform in Africa.[4] In 2008, Ayittey was listed by Foreign Policy as one of the "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" who "are shaping the tenor of our time."[5]

Political views[edit]

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

  • First, he advocated 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."[6] "The council should bring all of the opposition into an alliance ", which would prevent dictators from overpowering severely divided competition.
  • Second, nations have to gain control of the civil service, security forces, judiciary, election centers, and national bank. Ayittey saw 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, a nation has to use the correct sequence of reforms.

Personal life[edit]

George Ayittey's younger sister was the politician Sherry Ayittey.[7] [8]Ayittey died on 28 January 2022[9] and was buried on 8 April 2022.[10]

Published works[edit]

  • 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 Betrayed won the 1992 Mencken Award for Best Book.)[11]
  • Africa in Chaos, St. Martin's Press, 1998.[12]
  • Africa Unchained: the blueprint for development, Palgrave/MacMillan, 2004
  • Defeating Dictators: Fighting Tyrants in Africa and Around the World published September 2011.
  • Applied Economics for Africa, Atlas Network, 2018.


  1. ^ LinkedIn Profile of George Ayittey
  2. ^ a b "Bio at Foreign Policy Research Institute". Archived from the original on 7 April 2010. Retrieved 31 January 2010.
  3. ^ "BBC World Service | the Forum".
  4. ^ "Free Africa Foundation". Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  5. ^ Top 100 Public Intellectuals, Foreign Policy
  6. ^ mariam, al. "Ayittey's War on African Dictators". Online article. huffingpost. Archived from the original on 3 September 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2011.
  7. ^ Attah, Haruna (19 October 2000). "Winning Election 2000 Opposition must unite - George Ayittey". Ghana Web. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  8. ^ "Finding flagbearers". Africa Confidential. 6 February 1998. Retrieved 23 July 2023.
  9. ^ "In Memory of Prof. George B. N. Ayittey". Ever Loved. Archived from the original on 12 April 2022. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  10. ^ "Famous US-based Ghanaian Author, Economist, George Ayittey dead". My News Ghana. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 8 April 2022.
  11. ^ "The Mencken Awards: 1982–1996".
  12. ^ Reviewed by Jeremy Harding for The New York Times

External links[edit]