In Namibia, it has been suggested that the extension of coverage to vote-less African people was probably an attempt by the authoritarian regime to buy their quiescence and to improve the image of the South African army of occupation. South Africa was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to extend social assistance programmes to the non-voting poor. The new policy formed a core pillar of post-war British colonial strategy. Faced with the suggestion that British colonial subjects should qualify for the kinds of programmes being promised to the citizenry in Britain itself, the Colonial Office quickly moved to ward off reforms. After independence, across most of Africa the priorities for social policy and expenditure were education and health, with dramatic consequences in some cases. A combination of socioeconomic and political changes provided further impetus for welfare state-building at the end of the twentieth century. Africa does not warrant its neglect in the comparative scholarship on welfare states.