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LCS-EC201 Economic Challenges for African Development

This course offers a retrospective and prospective view of economic development in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Although SSA countries are far from homogeneous, it is possible to identify common economic trends over the past few decades. After independence, most countries in Africa suffered serious relative economic decline, leading ‘The Economist’ magazine in 2000 to dub Africa ‘the hopeless continent’. Much has changed since then, and many countries have experienced booming growth driven, in part, by rapidly growing investment in their abundant resource sectors. Of course, huge challenges exist; including widespread poverty and aid dependence, on-going conflict in some regions, and the stresses of providing infrastructure for burgeoning urban populations.

The topics covered include a review of economic development strategies; the role of foreign trade and regional integration; the financing of development; the impact of conflict; poverty and human development; the impact of corruption; and agricultural and industrialisation strategies. The focus is applied and policy-oriented with extensive use made of illustrative country case studies.

The course is aimed at economics students and graduates who wish to develop some background on the economies of SSA countries. It is also well-suited to non-economists who have some knowledge of African countries and a desire to build-up their economic expertise.


Students should normally have at least two years of undergraduate economics or equivalent. The course does not require knowledge of econometrics but basic quantitative skills and familiarity with Excel are necessary. 

Full course outline (2017 outline to be updated shortly)

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.


Professor Anthony Black is professor in the School Economics at the University of Cape Town. He has published extensively on trade issues, regional integration, industrial policy and foreign direct investment in South Africa and the region. He has been a leading advisor to South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry and has acted as a consultant to the Government of Mozambique, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and many other organisations.


Professor Léonce Ndikumana is Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Guest Lecturer at the LSE-UCT July School. He served as Director of Operational Policies and Director of Research at the African Development Bank and Chief of Macroeconomic Analysis at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. His work is concerned with issues of external debt and capital flight, financial markets and growth, macroeconomic policies for growth and employment, and the economics of conflict and civil wars in Africa.