How to contact us

Room G409, 20 Kingsway
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE


Centre for Research into Economics and Finance in Southern Africa

CREFSA was established in 1990 as an initiative of the Commonwealth Heads of Government to examine the reintegration of South Africa into the international economy, as part of the economic transformation that would follow the end of apartheid. The Centre developed into a leading source of independent research on the composition and management of cross-border financial flows in the South African economy. Research on regional integration in Southern Africa also emerged from the original mandate of the Centre, with an emphasis on policy frameworks to support the sharing of gains from economic integration. More recent research projects have further broadened the Centre’s programme to savings and tax policy.

Brief history of research

The Centre has worked directly with officials and researchers in Southern Africa in a series of research and capacity building projects. Earlier initiatives, funded by various international donors, included research projects and workshops with international experts on:

  • Economic policy in post-apartheid South Africa (1994)
  • Central bank independence in South Africa (1995)
  • Principles of economic policy for provincial MECs in South Africa (1996)
  • The institutional framework for financial regulation in South Africa (1999)
  • Economic policy frameworks to support regional integration in SADC (1996-2001)
  • Measuring cross-border financial flows in Eastern and Southern Africa (1998-2001)
  • Capital flows and the management of macroeconomic risk in South Africa (1998-2004)
  • Foreign direct investment in South and Southern Africa (2002 and 2005)

Current research programme

In 2005, the Centre launched a long-term programme of research on economic and financial sector policy in South Africa in collaboration with the National Treasury of South Africa, currently running to the end of 2012. The core themes of research evolving under this programme are:

  • Capital flows and the macro-prudential policy framework
  • Financial sector regulation and responses to the international crisis
  • Promoting savings
  • Tax reform, savings and capital flows

Recent studies under this programme have included an analysis of exchange control reforms and the shift to the prudential regulation of cross-border exposures, together with a broader analysis of the volume and composition of capital flows and the implications for the sustainability of the external position. Another strand of research has focused on the agenda for social security and retirement reform, where recent studies have included a micro-econometric analysis of the determinants of the coverage of private retirement funds. Research on savings has also begun to assess the implications of behavioural economics for the design of savings policy.