Sub-Saharan Africa in the 21st Century: A Continent in Transition

  • Summer schools
  • Academic Partnerships Office
  • LSE code LCS-AF101
  • Starting 2019
  • Location: Cape Town

AF101 play cover

Video: Watch Professor Horman Chitonge discuss his course.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been going through a period of rapid social, political and economic change since the beginning of the new Millennium.  Notwithstanding these changes, the dominant perceptions of Africa have not equally transformed.

This is an inter-disciplinary course that seeks to examine these changes by locating the dynamics in historical context and addressing the following questions:

  • What are the key social, political and economic challenges that occur from the process of transitioning from a traditional agrarian society to a modern industrial (mixed) society? 
  • How are Africans responding to these challenges, and how should we assess these changes? 
  • Are the changes being experienced in Africa today beneficial to African society? Are they leading to an Africa Rising scenario, or the opposite?

One of the central themes in Africa’s transition is the management of Africa’s natural and human resources, and this course will discuss both the persisting challenges and the prospects for a successful transition to better resource management outcomes. Secondly, the course tries to identify the main drivers of change in Africa and what this entails for African communities.

The main objective of this course is to encourage students to reflect on and engage with the current changes taking place in Africa today, and to develop more sophisticated conceptual and theoretical tools to understand this continuity and change. The second objective is to highlight the agency of Africans by looking critically on their responses to the changes taking place on the continent. In doing this, the course seeks to equip students with a strong awareness of the changes taking place and how these are reshaping African societies today. 

Click here to see the full course outline

Programme details


Professor Horman Chitonge 

Professor Horman Chitonge is currently associate professor and head of African Studies at the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town. His main research focuses on economic growth and structural transformation in Africa, agrarian political economy, poverty and social welfare in Africa.  He has published extensively on these themes. His most recent publications include, Economic Growth and Development in Africa: Understanding Trends and Prospects (2015 Routledge), Customary Land Tenure in Africa Today: Navigating the Contours of Change (2018, Cambridge University Press), Social Welfare Policy in South Africa: From the Poor White Problem to a Digitised Social Contract (2018, Peter Lang), Industrializing Africa: What will Take? (in press, Peter Land). He is currently working on a project looking at the political economy of economic structural transformation in Africa in the context of the Africa Rising Narrative and the post-2009 global financial crisis. 

Professor Frank Matose

Professor Frank Matose is currently Associate Professor and Director of Environmental Humanities South Centre at the University of Cape Town. He has been at UCT within the Sociology Department since 2009. His research focuses on the political economy of conservation and natural resource commons in Africa (southern, particularly).Before that he was Programme Leader for the Community-Based Natural Resource Management Programme at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of the Western Cape, 2004-2008. Prior to that he was Adaptative and Collaborative Management Project Leader in Zimbabwe for the Centre for International Forestry Research between 2000 and 2003. In the 1990s Frank worked in Harare, in the Social Forestry Research Unit in the Zimbabwe Forestry Commission. He is currently preparing a monograph titled Beyond Waiting Politics in Conservation: Forests and the power of the marginalised in Southern Africa, for University of Arizona Press.

Mr Nazeer Sonday

Mr Nazeer Sonday is a Philippi Horticultural Area local farmer and activist who has led the Food and Farming Campaign for the rights of small-farmers in the Philippi Horticultural Area.

Field trips

1) A one-day field visit to the Phillippi Horticultural Area.

2) Research field trip to Cape Town City Centre and the Water Front, where students will meeting with local traders and business people.   

Student feedback

This course is new for 2019.

Click here to read our alumni testimonials.


Assessment will be based on four short topic notes (40% in total) summarizing four lecture issues, including the two field research trips and a final exam (60%)


There are no prerequisites for this course.

Preparatory reading list

A full reading list and course pack will be provided to registered students approximately six weeks before the beginning of the programme.

Request a prospectus

  • Name
  • Address

Register your interest

  • Name

Speak to Admissions

Content to be supplied