. A growing recognition of the need to delimit the role of the government, to promote the market framework, and to rely on the private sector as the engine of growth, offers the prospect of a new beginning in rural development in Africa. . Rural people must take a more dominant role, both in shaping their economic prospects and in assuming the responsibility for a high quality of stewardship of natural resources. . To help to bring about such an empowerment of the people, governments and the donors will need to undertake some drastic reforms in the old systems and habits of governance.