In seeking to maintain their power, many African regimes rely on strategies of extraversion, converting their dependent relations with the external world into domestic resources and authority. This article assesses the relationship between extraversion and political liberalization, a dimension of African democratization that has been somewhat underappreciated in recent empirical studies. African countries vary in their extraversion portfolios, or the dimensions of their relations to the outside world that they can instrumentalize, and these variations correspond both to different degrees of vulnerability to the demands of foreign donors and to different preferences from the donors themselves. We find four quantitative measures of extraversion vulnerability to be statistically associated with the initial transitions of the 1989–1995 period and with the ‘consolidations’ at different levels of democracy observable between 1995 and 2011. These findings shed new light on both democratic and hybrid regime trajectories in Africa.