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LCS-EC201 Economic Challenges for African Development

This course offers an examination of a wide range of important economic development issues that have faced Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the past several 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 toward 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 over the next decade, 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 persist, including widespread poverty, aid dependence, on-going conflict in some regions, and the stresses of providing infrastructure for burgeoning urban populations.

The topics covered in the course include: a review of economic development since independence; the Role of the IMF and World Bank in Africa; the role of globalization and its impact on policy; can regional integration work for Africa; investigating the sources of financing for development; the role the state and alternative government policies; does inequality affect growth; the impact of changing demographics in Africa; and the challenges of poverty and unemployment for the continent. The focus is applied and policy-oriented with considerable use of country cases. In addition, the course will have two local field trips to acquaint students with South African economic issues.


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.

Full course outline

About the Instructors 


Professor Mark Ellyne is Adjunct Associate Professor in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. He was senior economist in the African Department of the International Monetary Fund for 20 years, including as Resident Representative in Uganda and Zambia. He has served as a consultant to the Southern African Development Community on the issue of liberalising exchange controls in the region. His research interests include macroeconomic policy, monetary policy, and regional integration.

Hiroyuki Hino

Professor Hiroyuki Hino is a Visiting Professor in the Poverty and Inequality Initiative, based at the University of Cape Town's Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU). His specialism research topic centres on social cohesion. Prior to this, Professor Hino has been a Visiting Professor at YaleUniversity, Kobe University and also held positions at the