SOAS University of London

Centre of African Studies

Previous Events


22 October 2009
Trevor Robinson (Consultant)
Governance and management in Africa:  Is there a useful role for the UK?

23 November 2009
Richard Dowden (Journalist and Director Royal African Society)
Governance and management in Africa:  How can the UK help African reformers?

2 December 2009
Panel Discussion with Trevor Robinson, Richard Dowden, Representative from Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Governance and management in Africa:  What next?

3 February 2010
Jörg Wiegratz (University of Sheffield, UK)
The business culture dimension of trade between Africa and the European Union: The case of Uganda (and beyond)

This presentation tries to contribute to a debate about the business culture dimension of Africa-EU trade. To make his points, the presenter used extensive interview data (collected in Uganda and some European countries) from a qualitative study on the governance of inter-firm relationships in Global Value Chains between Uganda and Europe. He will build on some of the arguments made in the journal article ‘Beyond harsh trade!?’ and in his recent book as well as use relevant insights from his current PhD research. 

18 March 2010
Karin Wedig (SOAS)
Opportunities and constraints for sustainable business: commodity production and labour markets in Uganda

Drawing on a country-wide urban labour market study (Wedig, forthcoming) and a survey among agricultural wage workers in eastern Uganda (part of PhD research, 2008-09) it is argued that labour market flexibility has in fact heightened existing structural problems. As elsewhere, high transaction costs caused by weak or dysfunctional labour market institutions are sought to be reduced by reliance on personal relations and clientalist networks. In this context, increasing flexibility without strengthening relevant institutions has further weakened incentives for employers to invest into a higher skilled labour force. There is a lack of trust in employment relations, working conditions are often dismal and work ethics of employees are low in regional comparison. In contrast to this bleak picture, recent case studies from the coffee sector (qualitative research, 2009) show that business models and practices based on the promotion of sustainable economic development are viable and alive in Uganda. The possible role of multinational coffee buyers and ‘new’ cooperatives (founded after structural adjustment reforms) as drivers of change is discussed.

13 May 2010
Dr Liz Wilson (Deputy Investigator Africa and Europe: Partnerships in Food and Farming, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London)
How Europe responded to the food price spike in Africa


04 November 2008
Dr Rocio Diaz-Chavez (Imperial College, London)
Opportunities and challenges for biofuels production in Africa. What are the options?

10 December 2008
Antony Goldman (Consultant, former FT Journalist)
Nigeria:  Treading Water or Making Tracks?

10 June 2009
Ronald Naluwairo and Chifundo Kachale (Law department, SOAS)
Evolving Legal Regimes and Incentives for Investments in Africa

7 July 2009
Michela Wrong (journalist)
Hopes for Kenya?


6 December 2007
Olly Owen (Economics Associates)
Uneven Growth and Business Risk in Nigeria: State-by-state perspectives

28 February 2008
Madeleine Bunting (The Guardian)
The Guardian’s Katine Project

06 March 2008
Dr Hugo Slim (Corporate for Crisis)
Post war economies: what can business do?

29 May 2008
Barbara Heinzen (Consultant & Research Associate at the Centre of African studies, Univ. of London)
Environmental Markets: Opportunities for Africa?


31 October 2006
Alexander Rottenburg (Drum Risk Management) 
Trade flows in Africa: Trucks in the mud. The reality behind the statistics

5 December 2006
Mr David Bowers (Steer Davies Gleave)
Bus Rapid Transit in Lagos

22 February 2007
Gregory Kronsten (Commerzbank) 
External Financing Flows to Sub-Saharan Africa in 2006: Selective improvements

Portfolio and direct investors are very different animals, with different tastes. In some cases such as Nigeria and Zambia, they will like the same countries but for different reasons. Oil and minerals have been favoured sectors in the region for many years. We should now add telecoms, which is also popular even when the macroeconomic framework in the country is flawed. For other sectors, the direct investor is looking for sound economic policy, including low inflation, exchange-rate stability, fiscal discipline and open financial markets. These comprise the sine qua non for the portfolio investor, and it is significant that they are now established in the majority of African countries

29 March 2007
Patrick Smith (Africa Confidential) and John Christianson
Stealing Africa: How Capital Flight is Draining Africa’s Economies

31 May 2007
Tunde Ogowewo (Kings’ College)
Wealth Creation in Nigeria: The Need for a Functional Company Law

Nigeria might never have existed but for the initiatives of companies.
The company today holds the key for the economic advancement of the country whose creation the company initiated. Yet, the role of the law that creates the company in Nigeria and that determines the extent to which it can pool savings and generate wealth has not been taken seriously. This paper explains why company law matters. It argues that a functional company law is vital for Nigeria's development and sets outs how we can measure functionality.

27 June 2007
Peter da Costa (SOAS)
The AU, NEPAD and APRM: Progress and Prospects


David Mepham

(Institute for Public Policy and Research) Engaging China in Africa: conflict, human rights and governance

Chris Alden

(Lecturer, London School of Economics and Political Studies) The role of China in Africa

Steve Kibble

(Advocacy Coordinator Africa/Yemen, (Progressio)) Angola: Can the “Politics of Disorder” become the Politics of Democratisation and Development?

Martin Plaut

(BBC World Service) Ethiopia and Eritrea – The cost of permanent hostility

Tara O’Connor

(Managing Director, Africa Practice, Kroll Associates) South Africa-Agent for Change from Africa

John Battersby

(UK Country Manger, International Marketing Council of South Africa) Brand South Africa: Winning Trade, investment and tourism for the nation-building effort

Patrick Smith

(Editor, Africa Confidential) What Africa wants from the G8

Panel Discussion:

(Michael Peel, Kaye Whiteman and other specialists from University of London) Business Environment in Nigeria: Stability and Transparency

Mushtaq Khan

(Prof. of Economics, SOAS) Governance and Economic Development in Africa – a critical view

Sandy Balfour

(Chairman, Day Chocolate Company) A Divine Model? Fair Trade, Ghanaian Chocolate, and an African Business Story


Richard Dowden

(Journalist and Director of the Royal African Society): The Commission for Africa: Will it Change Africa in 2005?

Olly Owen

(Africa Researcher, World Markets Research Centre (WMRC)): Empire-Building by Default or Design? Exploring the Intertwined Expansion of South African and Nigerian Strategic Interests and Energy Investments Across the Continent.

Panel dicussion:

Nigeria: Stability and Transparency.

Patrick Smith

(Editor, Africa Confidential): What Africa Wants from the G8

John Battersby

(UK Country Manager, International Marketing Council of South Africa): Brand South Africa: Winning Trade, Investment and Tourism for the Nation-Building Effort

Tara O'Connor

(Managing Director, Africa Practice, Kroll Associates): South Africa - Africa's Agent of Change


Dr Kevin O'Brien

(Senior Policy Analyst, RAND Europe (UK)): The Impact of HIV/AIDS on Africa's Militaries

Laurence Cockcroft

(Chairman, Transparency International): Fighting Corruption in Africa: Is Progress Real?

James Bevan

(Africa Director, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): Africa: Should We Just Give Up?

Patrick Smith

(Editor, Africa Confidential). Is Peace Breaking Out in Africa? Are the Wars in Congo, Angola, Sudan and West Africa Really Over? Or Are They Just Recipients of a Political Fix?

Jesmond Blumenfeld

(Region Head, Africa Desk, Oxford Analytica). South Africa's First Post-Apartheid Decade: Challenges to the Record of Economic Growth.

Professor Tim Shaw

(Director, Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London). Branding Africa. State and Non-State Logos for Development in the 21st Century.


Gregory Kronsten

(Senior Economist (Africa and Middle East) West LB London): Africa s Debt: Burden or Opportunity?

Xavier Delhaise

(Senior Business Consultant), Tim Harford (Economist, Shell Scenarios Team): The World in 2020: Implications for Africa

Andrew Manley

(Freelance Journalist and Researcher specialising in francophone Africa): How France Does Business in Africa

Brian Wood

(Campaign Co-ordinator, Amnesty International): Preventing the Proliferation of Arms in Africa - is it possible?

Dr Jedrez George Frynas

(International Management and Organisation, The Birminham Business School, University of Birmingham): Social and Environmental Litigation Against Foreign Firms in Africa

Tara O'Connor

(Director, Africa Team, Control Risks Group Ltd): High Risk - High Returns? Practical Risk Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Africa Business Group has hosted the following speakers during the past six years:


Dr Casper Fithen

(Editor for Sub-Saharan Africa, Oxford Analytica): Politics and Minerals: The Prospects for Post-War Progress in Sierra Leone

Patrick Smith

(Editor, Africa Confidential): Tony Blair s Africa Project

Kaye Whiteman

(CAS Research Associate): Can Nigeria Change?

John Ryle

(Anthropology, Ecology and Africa Editor, Times Literary Supplement): Cattle, Slaves, Aid, Guns and Oil Who Gets What out of War in Sudan?

Roger Murray

(Freelance economist analyst and consultant specialising in Southern Africa, especially Botswana and Namibia, with partic ular reference to natural resources, transport, tourism and industry): Economic prospects for Namibia and Botswana: Small Markets, Big Opportunities

Kuniyasu Kobayashi

(Product Development Advisor, Kenya Export Promotion Council/Japan International Co-operation Agency Expert): Japan-Africa Business Relations

Tim Craddock

(Head of Africa, Greater Horn, DfID): Making a Difference British Aid in a Zone of Conflict


Andrew Manley

(Consultant and Writer): Mining in West Africa: Economic Springboard or False Dawn?

Dr Mel McNulty

(Africa Research Group, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): A Vile Scramble for Loot?: Security Profit and the Prospects for Peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Arthur Muliro

(Director, Organizational Development, Society for International Development (Rome)): Going Beyond the Crossroads: The Experiences of the Kenya Scenarios Project

Gill Lusk

(Deputy Editor, Africa Confidential): Newspeak: where words mean their opposite

Jon Marks

(Editor, FT African Energy): Corporate Responses to Developing Africa s Energy Resources


Christine Gordon

(Writer and Researcher on diamond politics in Africa): Diamond Studded Wars

Shawn McCormick

(Senior Policy Advisor, Government and Public Affairs, BP Amoco plc): BP Amoco in Angola a case study of growth, development and corporate responsibility in Africa

Dr Anthony Butler

(Lecturer in Politics, Birkbeck College and member of Centre of African Studies (University of London))Political Uncertainty and Foreign Direct Investment in South Africa: Problems and Prospects

Dr David M Anderson

(Senior Lecturer, Department of History, SOAS and Chair, Centre of African Studies): Drugs in Africa Assessing the Problem

Dr Machiko Nissanke

(Senior Lecturer in Economics (SOAS) and member of Centre of African Studies (University of London)): Financial Systems and Development: Issues in Africa

Kaye Whiteman

(Director of Information and Public Affairs, Commonwealth Secretariat; Research Associate, Centre of African Studies): Issues before the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Durban (12-15 November)


Dr Barbara Heinzen

(Senior Research Associate, Centre of African Studies; Consultant; Co-ordinator, Business Exchange on AIDS and Development (BEADS)): The Business Response to the Dynamics of HIV/AIDS in Africa

Kevin O'Brien

(Centre for Security Studies (University of Hull) and Institute for Security Studies (Midrand, RSA)): The Business of War: the Privatisation of Security in Africa

Patrick Smith

(Editor: Africa Confidential and Who's Who in Southern Africa ): The Crisis of the African State: Prospects for Peace and Economic Growth

Andrew Manley

(Freelance Writer and Consultant): De La Fran"afrique l Europe? France, Africa and the EU at the End of the Millennium

Sir Michael McWilliam

(Chairman, Royal Commonwealth Society): CDC Privatisation: Will Public Private Partnership work in the Development Business?


Karl A Ziegler

(Director, The Centre for Accountability and Debt Relief): Conditionality, aid and debt relief in East Africa

Bill Cash MP
Andrew Jones

(Fair Trade Development Manager, The Body Shop): The Body Shop community trade in Ghana

Aron Cronin

(Managing Director, Gimlet International): UK Private Sector Participation in Economic Development Programmes in South Africa

Patrick Orr

(Chairman, Raitt Orr Associates): Publicising, Promoting and Reporting Africa: Filling the Information Gap

Joe Demby

(Investment Manager for Africa, Blakeney Management Limited): Investment in Sierra Leone: Opportunities and Obstacles


Michael Power

(Investment Manager for Africa and the Middle East, Baring International Investment Limited): Corporate South Africa: Re-engaging its African Hinterland'

Dr Christopher Stevens

(Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex): Trade Between South Africa and Europe: Future Prospects and Policy Choices

R N Dales

(Director, Africa and Commonwealth, Foreign and Commonwealth Office): 'Priorities and Preoccupations of UK Policy in Africa

Sir Mervyn Brown

(Former Ambassador to Madagascar, 1967-70 and 76-78/Chairman, Anglo-Malagasy Society, 1986 onwards): Political and economic change in Madagascar

Dr Heather Deegan

(Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics, Middlesex University): Africa, Islam and the Islamic Development Bank: An Alternative Agenda?

Andrew Manley

(Editor/Economist, Sub-Saharan Africa, Economist Intelligence Unit): France and Sub-Saharan Africa: An Old Relationship on the Point of Change?