Economic Challenges for African Development

  • Summer schools
  • Academic and Professional Development
  • Application code LCS-EC201
  • Starting 2019
  • Location: Cape Town

EC201 16.9

This course offers an examination of a select range of key economic development issues that have faced Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in recent decades.

The course is aimed at undergraduate students and post-graduates who wish to develop their knowledge of SSA economies and issues. The course is suitable for non-economists who have some familiarity with economic concepts and with African countries. The course is designed to build-up students’ economic knowledge with a relatively non-technical approach about issues facing African countries.

Although SSA countries are far from homogeneous, it is possible to identify common economic trends over the past few decades. After an initial post-independence expansion, most countries in Africa suffered relative economic decline or stagnation during the lost decades of the 1980s and 1990s, leading The Economist magazine in 2000 to dub Africa “the hopeless continent”. Much changed subsequently and many countries experienced booming growth after the turn of the century, driven in part, by rapidly growing investment in their abundant resource sectors. Since the global financial crisis (2008) and the end of the commodity super-cycle, the “Africa rising” scenario has been called into question as big challenges re-emerge including: persistent poverty, inequality and unemployment; aid dependence; on-going conflict in some regions; and the stresses of providing infrastructure for burgeoning urban populations.

In addition to the above topics, the course covers: a review of economic development since independence; the debate over the role the state; the role of the IMF and World Bank in Africa; globalisation and its impact on policy; the debate on agriculture and minerals versus industry as a source of growth; the ability of regional integration to effect change in Africa; traditional and new forms of financing for development; and the impact of changing demographics in Africa. In addition, the course will pay special to South African economic issues and includes two local field trips.

EC201 play cover 2019

Video: Watch Professor Anthony Black discuss his course.

Click here to see the full course outline

Programme details


Professor Mark Ellyne (Convenor)

Professor Mark Ellyne has been Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town since 2010. Previously he worked as a senior economist in the African Department of the International Monetary Fund for 20 years. During that time, he had extensive experience with IMF lending and adjustment programs in many African countries and served as the IMF Resident Representative in Uganda (1992-95) and Zambia (2001-03). More recently, he has served as a consultant to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) on the issue of liberalising exchange controls in the region and done consultancy work on external debt for the South African Treasury. Professor Ellyne’s research interests include macroeconomic policy, monetary policy, and regional integration.

Professor Anthony Black

Anthony Black is Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He is a former director of the School and currently directs the research unit, Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM). His main research areas include international trade, foreign investment, industrial development and the automotive industry. Black played a key role in the establishment and implementation of the South Africa’s Motor Industry Development Programme and subsequent policy aimed at developing the automotive industry. He has acted as a consultant to a number of African governments as well as international organisations such as UNCTAD and UNIDO. His latest book is an edited volume entitled ‘Towards Employment Intensive Growth in South Africa’. Black holds degrees from the universities of Sussex, Natal and Cape Town.

Professor Leonce Ndikumana

Léonce Ndikumana is Chair and Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, and Honorary Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. He has an exemplary record of accomplishments in research and in using scholarship and leadership to bring life improvements to some of the most impoverished people on the planet. In addition, Ndikumana has an extraordinary life story; from confronting political persecution as a prisoner of conscience in his native Burundi, he has achieved exceptional success as a scholar, teacher, leader, and mentor. In 2006, he took a leave and embarked on a journey in the world of development policy, starting at the United Nations Economic Commission as Chief Macroeconomist (2006-2008) and moved on to the African Development Bank as Director of Research and Director of Operations Policy (2008-2011). He returned to UMass as the inaugural Andrew Glyn Professor of Economics (2011-2014), a joint position between the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) and the Economics Department. He is Full Professor in the Economics Department since 2011 as well as Director of the African Development Policy Program at PERI. Léonce Ndikumana’s research is informed and guided by this dual interest in academic research and development policy. 


Student feedback

"I was very impressed by the quality of teaching in my course, I learnt a great deal form my professors and TA's and they were very nice and friendly." Rachel Tjahjadi, London School of Economics, England

"The combination of good facilities, committed and very knowledgeable lecturers and social experience made it almost perfect." Wouter De Krom, Leiden University, The Netherlands

"I loved the course because it was very engaging. We engaged in great debates all the time and this gave students the platform to speak about their personal experiences and views and more importantly to learn from others." Lebogang Mahlare, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Click here to read more of our alumni testimonials.


Students should normally have at least two years of undergraduate economics or an equivalent knowledge of basic macroeconomic concepts. The course does not require advanced technical skills but students should be competent to do independent research.


The course assessment will be structured along four elements for learning and evaluation:

Class   participation 10%
Class   presentation 15%
Essay 25%
Exam 50%

All students will be expected to do the required reading and participate in class discussions. Class members will have the opportunity to participate in a panel debate. Everyone will write a final exam on the last day of the course.

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