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Matrix Governance, Cruciform Sovereignty and the Poverty Regime in Africa

Pádraig Carmody


Uneven development and globalization are associated with problems of poverty, resource scarcity, competition and conflict. The solution to these problems often presented by donors is better national, and also global governance: the creation of a governance matrix, prescribing and proscribing sets of actions by particular actors. Matrix governance attempts to regularize social interactions to achieve poverty reduction, but ultimately manages, normalizes and thereby arguably reproduces it without substantively addressing its causes. Structurally, matrix governance represents a horizontal sharing of Northern countries’ sovereignty and power, which is then projected southwards to ensure vertical sovereignty sharing and continued resource extraction; giving sovereignty a global cruciform structure. This undemocratic structure of global governance, and the transnational contract of extroversion between corporations and state elites which underpins it, paradoxically, helps to produce conditions conducive to conflict and corruption, recreating the conditions for its own perpetuation. The paper explores these issues through case studies of the new geopolitical fracture zone in the Chadian-Sudanese borderlands, which is partly the result of competition between Western powers and China for oil, and Equatorial Guinea as a space of exception, deception and occlusion to neoliberal normalization.

Last updated 28 August 2014 by IIIS (Email).