SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Economic development of Africa: macroeconomic approaches

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 2

This course carries forward the treatment of African economies provided in Part I by aiming to increase students' capacity to use their growing knowledge of economic theory and development economics in rigorous analysis of a subset of the critical issues facing policy makers in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), this time focusing on macroeconomic issues, in particular international trade.  The course relies both on the best theoretical studies in development economics and the most relevant applied economic literature referring to Sub-Saharan African countries.  The heterogeneity of Sub-Saharan African economies is stressed and students are encouraged to focus their written work on particular sub-regions, countries and sectors.  The course presents the most important debates and critically assesses the determinants of Sub-Saharan countries' economic performance.  Topics covered include:  the role of the state;  the impacts of international financial institutions (IMF and World Bank) reforms programmes;  industrialisation; privatisation; international and intra-regional trade;  foreign direct investment;  official development assistance, the determinants of growth and debt

Students pursuing a degree external to the Department of Economics should contact the convenor for approval to take this module.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

 On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identify the macroeconomic issues that are the most important in SSA today.  
  • Explain the strengths and weaknesses of SSA economies for each issue, and critically discuss the different schools of thought in a given debate.  
  • Strongly emphasize the heterogeneity of the academic literature and findings on a given question, as well as past and current debates.
  • Develop a capacity to critically assess the many existing studies as well as the (often contradictory) findings regarding SSA economies

Method of assessment

Assessment weighting: Exam 70% / coursework 30% (1 essay). All coursework is resubmittable.

Suggested reading

Core Reading:
  • Akyüz, Yilmaz and Charles Gore. 2001. African Economic Development in a Comparative Perspective, Cambridge Journal of Economics, vol. 25, n°3, May, pp. 265-288.
  • Kentikelenis, Alexander E., Thomas H. Stubbs and Lawrence P. King. 2016. IMF Conditionality and Development Policy Space, 1985-2014, Review of International Political Economy, vol. 23, n°4, pp. 543-582.
  • Aryeetey, Ernest and Nelipher Moyo. 2012. Industrialisation for Structural Transformation in Africa: Appropriate Roles for the State, Journal of African Economies, vol. 21, AERC Supplement 2, pp. ii55–ii85.
  • Bayliss, Kate and Elisa Van Waeyenberge. 2018. Unpacking the Public Private Partnership Revival, Journal of Development Studies, vol. 54, n°4, pp. 577-593.
  • McMillan, Margaret, Dani Rodrik and Inigo Verduzco-Gallo. 2014. Globalization, Structural Change, and Productivity Growth, with an Update on Africa, World Development, vol. 63, November, pp. 11–32.
  • De Melo, Jaime and Yvonne Tsikata. 2014. Regional Integration in Africa: Challenges and Prospects, Helsinki, WIDER working paper 2014/037 UNCTAD. 2014. Economic Development in Africa: Catalysing Investment for Transformative Growth in Africa, Geneva, UNCTAD.
  • UNCTAD. 2014. Economic Development in Africa: Catalysing Investment for Transformative Growth in Africa, Geneva, UNCTAD. (only chapters 1 and 2)
  • Ndikumana, Leonce and Lynda Pickbourn. 2017. The Impact of Foreign Aid Allocation on Access to Social Services in sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Water and Sanitation, World Development, vol. 90, pp. 104–114.
  • Rodrik, Dani. 2018. An African Growth Miracle?, Journal of African Economies, vol. 27, n°1, January, pp. 10–27.
  • Battaile, Bill, F. Leonardo Hernández and Vivian Norambuena. 2015. Debt Sustainability in Sub-Saharan Africa: Unraveling Country-Specific Risks, Washington D. C., the World Bank, policy research working paper 7523.
Additional Reading:
  • Mkandawire, Thandika. 2001. Thinking about Developmental States in Africa, Cambridge Journal of Economics, vol. 25, n°3, May, pp. 289-313.
  • Thorbecke, Erik. 2006. The Evolution of the Development Doctrine, 1950-2005, Helsinki, WIDER research paper 2006/155.
  • Diao, Xinshen, Kenneth Harttgen, and Margaret McMillan. 2017. The Changing Structure of Africa’s Economies, World Bank Economic Review, vol. 31, n°2, June, pp. 412–433.
  • Austin, Gareth. 2015. Is Africa Too Late For ‘Late Development’? Gerschenkron South of the Sahara, Kyoto, World Economic History Congress (WEHC), 7 August.
  • Nissanke, Machiko. 2011. Commodity Markets and Excess Volatility: Sources and Strategies to Reduce Adverse Development Impacts, Amsterdam, Common Fund for Commodities.
  • Hoekman, Bernard and Dominique Njinkeu. 2017. Integrating Africa: Some Trade Policy Research Priorities and Challenges, Journal of African Economies, vol. 26, suppl. 2, 1 November, pp. ii12–ii39.
  • Chen, Yunnan, Irene Yuan Sun, Rex Uzonna Ukaejiofo, Tang Xiaoyang and Deborah Brautigam. 2016. Learning from China? Manufacturing, Investment, and Technology Transfer in Nigeria, Washington D. C., IFPRI discussion paper 01565.
  • Harrigan, Jane. 2007. The Doubling of Aid to Sub-Saharan Africa: Promises and Problems, Journal of Contemporary African Studies, vol. 25, n°3, September, pp. 369-389.
  • Jerven, Morten. 2010. African Growth Recurring: An Economic History Perspective on African Growth Episodes, 1690–2010, Vancouver, Simon Fraser University, School for International Studies, Simons Papers in Security and Development 4/2010.
  • UNCTAD. 2016. Economic Development in Africa: Debt Dynamics and Development Finance in Africa, Geneva, UNCTAD (only chapters 2 and 3).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules