The goal of this semester-long course is to understand the economic development trajectory of African countries by focusing on their challenges and opportunities. The expectation is to disentangle factors of transformation (or lack thereof) and identify what is unique about Africa—if anything. The course examines various waves of development economics and empirical evidence to evaluate the pertinence of narratives of African development.
The course is organized along five modules: (i) an introductory section on the sources, patterns, and quality of economic growth across the continent since independence; (ii) a historical overview of comparative economic performance (Africa versus other developing regions of the world), with focus on the weight of history, initial conditions, development strategies, institutions and policies; (iii) an examination of failed and successful experiments in economic development, with emphasis on patterns and pace of economic diversification, the optimal roles of the state, the private sector, and civil society, and strategies for employment creation in the formal sector; (iv) the political economy of policymaking in the African context, with an examination of the financing framework of African economies, the role of foreign aid and foreign direct investment. Idiosyncrasies, commonalities, differences across regions, and innovative approaches will be analyzed; and (v), an evaluation of Africa’s recent performance on various dimensions of structural change, the remaining challenges, and the continents economic prospects and opportunities in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, technological innovation, and the fears about globalization.