In response to recent accumulation crises, the development community has begun to call for greater focus on ‘inclusive green growth' (IGG). African governments have accordingly been encouraged to develop mechanisms to leverage private sector investments that are both inclusive of the poor and that contribute to the development of the green economy. Since natural resource endowment has long been the primary source of comparative advantage for most African economies, natural resource-based industries are typically prioritised for IGG. This article examines the structural institutional challenges of aligning existing natural resource management regimes with emergent IGG objectives. By showing how and why governments struggle to leverage the potential of investments in extractive industries and agriculture to contribute to IGG, this paper highlights that realising meaningful IGG in Africa requires strong developmental states willing to deviate from existing development trajectories. It is currently under-acknowledged by international development actors that this necessitates disruptive and transformative legal, institutional and economic reform.