SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

African Economic Development 2 (MSc RID)

Module Code:
Year of study:
Year 1
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, 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 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.

This course will delivered alongside the parallel course African economies 2: applied macroeconomic analysis, worth 18 CATS credits. Students will have the opportunity to attend all lectures and tutorial, but the examinable component will be approximately  85% of the 18 CATS credits syllabus. The following topics will not be part of the examinable component of this course: Week 10

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). Resubmission of coursework regulations apply.

Suggested 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.
• Kaplinsky, Raphael and Mike Morris. 2008. Do the Asian Drivers Undermine Export-Oriented Industrialisation in SSA? World Development, vol. 36, n°2, pp. 254–273.
• Nissanke, Machiko. 2011. Commodity Markets and Excess Volatility: Sources and Strategies to Reduce Adverse Development Impacts, Amsterdam, Common Fund for Commodities
• Rodrik, Dani. 2016. An African Growth Miracle?, Journal of African Economies, forthcoming 2017


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules