SOAS University of London

Department of Economics

Mr Sebastian Heinen

MSc (Cologne), MIM (CEMS), BSc (Cologne)
  • Research


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Mr Sebastian Heinen
Email address:
Thesis title:
Distinct Industrial Policy in an Adverse-Context State: Coffee, Construction and Tourism in Rwanda
Year of Study:
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Sebastian is a PhD candidate in the Department of Economics. He holds a B.Sc. in Business Studies and a M.Sc. in Economics both from the University of Cologne. Sebastian also got a CEMS Master's in International Management. He has been a visiting student at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and at Tsinghua University in Beijing. During his studies Sebastian has been a teaching assistant in Fiscal Politics and Labour Economics. In his master thesis he examined how New Institutional Economics explains the Great Divergence of national income between the ""West and the Rest"" (S. Hall) in the 19th century.

Prior to joining the Department of Economics at SOAS, Sebastian worked as a Consultant for a German NGO in Financial Sector Development in Rwanda, focusing on the professionalization of community-based financial cooperatives and the establishment of a cooperative bank. He has been working as a freelance consultant in various projects, including short-term assignments in Togo and Benin regarding financial inclusion and designing a budget management tool for a three-country development programme in East Africa. Sebastian interned with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). 

PhD Research

In his research, Sebastian investigates how the Rwandan government was able to improve the implementation of its development policies over time. The research makes use of the literature on the political economy of development, specifically Mushtaq Khan’s work on political settlements and rent management. In 2019, Sebastian will conduct several months of fieldwork in Rwanda to gather primary quantitative and qualitative data on the country’s coffee, construction and tourism sector. Given the remarkable growth rate in these sectors over the last two decades, his objective is to understand how different government entities were able to (re)establish, organise and control these industries with increasing sophistication. In the coffee sector this meant orchestrating value chain upgrading from ordinary low-quality to high-priced specialty coffee despite stagnating production levels. Managing the construction sector required exerting a high level of quality and cost control. Gradually building a high-end eco-tourism sector warranted the calibration of supply (infrastructure, transport, accommodation) and demand (marketing campaigns). Sebastian will elicit how the Rwandan government assessed initial policy outcomes, learned from mistakes over time, corrected and adapted sectorial industrial policies and practices, disciplined firms, and overcame resistance from various actors as well as other obstacles.


  • Political Settlements and Rent-Seeking
  • Political Economy of Development
  • Institutional Economics
  • African Industrial Policy and State Intervention
  • Rwanda