Africa: Time to Rediscover the Economics of Population Density and Development

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By Professor Erik S. Reinert, Tallinn University of Technology, and Dr. Richard Itaman, King’s College, London


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-Industrialisation-Factory.jpgAt the OECD’s origin, we find the 1947 Marshall Plan that re-industrialised a war-torn Europe. At the very core of the Marshall Plan was a profound understanding of the relationship between a nation’s economic structure and its carrying capacity in terms of population density. We argue that it is necessary to rediscover this theoretical understanding now, in the mutual interest of Africa and Europe.

In early 1947, worries grew in Washington that an impoverished Germany – where manufacturing industry had been forbidden under the Morgenthau Plan – would fall an easy prey to the Soviet Union. US President Truman therefore sent former president Herbert Hoover on a fact-finding mission to Germany. One powerful sentence in Hoover’s Report of March 18 that year zeroed in on the basic problem:

‘’There is the illusion that the New Germany left after the annexations can be reduced to a ‘pastoral state’. It cannot be done unless we exterminate or move 25.000.000 out of it’.1 

Hoover understood that the population density of a country is determined by its economic structure: Industrialisation makes it possible to dramatically increase the population carrying capacity of a nation. ‘Exterminate’ was an extremely strong word to use after the horrors of World War II, and everyone understood that there was no place where 25 million Germans could be sent: Re-industrialisation was the only option. Continue reading

Africa’s integration: groundbreaking but not so new

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By Sarah Lawan, Regional Co-operation Advisor, Networks, Partnerships and Gender Division, OECD Development Centre, and Rodrigo Deiana, Junior Policy Analyst, Europe, Middle East and Africa Unit, OECD Development Centre


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


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Kwame Nkrumah speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Organisation of African Unity Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1963

As early as 1963, in the midst of independence movements, Kwame Nkrumah urged, “Africa must unite or perish!” The first president of Ghana pronounced this injunction at the founding meeting of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The post-colonial thirst for “breaking with the old order and indigenising the direction of Africa’s economic development”led to the shaping of the African Economic Community (AEC), a pan-African single market. Africa reclaimed its leadership and ownership with the goal of promoting a self-sustained and self-reliant development trajectory.

2018 witnessed an acceleration of integration efforts with the landmark agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Kigali on 21 March. So far, 49 African countries have signed the AfCFTA, which will be the world’s largest free trade area since the WTO’s creation. As the late Calestous Juma put it: “The continent’s regional integration is the most complex and elaborate effort of its kind ever mounted in human history.”2

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Tracing our roots: Understanding African innovation

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By Youssef Travaly, PhD MBA, Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Vice-President of Science, Innovation & Partnerships, and Acting President, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Senegal


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


Africa-digital-technologyCan you name a famous African scientist?

Barely no one can answer this question, even with some thought. And yet, Africa is the cradle of humanity, and therefore logically, the cradle of science and innovation. So why can’t we name any famous African scientists? The simple answer is that we don’t know much about the history of innovation in Africa. The world’s technologically driven human progress can be divided into two parts: the “Africa” time with major discoveries, including tools, fire, mathematics and steel, and the more recent “industrial” read “western Europe and North America” time with major discoveries such as the steam engine, vaccines, antibiotics, computers and much more. In between the two, the world transitioned from more “informal” homegrown knowledge-based innovation to more “formal” scientific knowledge-based innovation. Within that context, Africa’s research and innovation, which often occurs outside the so-called “formal” innovation framework, completely disappeared from the global map of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). Since then, “playing catch-up” has been the cornerstone of the strategy of every single African nation intending to adopt a knowledge-led economy. But do we really need to catch-up? What does catching up even mean?

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Raising capital for intermediary cities

By Jeremy Gorelick, Senior Infrastructure Finance Advisor, USAID’s* WASH-FIN (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene – Finance) Programme, and Joel Moktar, Project Leader, Open Capital Advisors


This blog is part of an ongoing series exploring the intersection between intermediary cities in developing countries and sustainable development


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Intermediary cities are the fastest growing cities in the developing world. Often referred to as secondary or second-tier cities, intermediary cities typically have a population of between 50,000 and one million people. They play a fundamental role in connecting both rural and urban areas to basic facilities and services.[1] Driven by population growth and rural-urban migration, intermediary cities worldwide are projected to grow at almost twice the rate of megacities (those with more than 10 million inhabitants) between now and 2030.[2] Of these, the fastest growing cities are in Africa and Asia.[3]

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Migration and Africa: Driving better policy choices by changing the conversation

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By Faten Aggad1 Non-resident Business Associate and International Consultant, Maendeleo Group, Cape Town, South Africa


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


 

shutterstock_699139378The conversation needs to change when it comes to migration and Africa, replacing the narrative about an exodus out of the continent to one about people moving to other countries within the continent. The difference matters.

In its most recent round of surveys in nine African countries, the Afrobarometer revealed that 64% of Africans do not wish to emigrate. Of the remaining 37% who have considered leaving their countries, almost half would like to relocate to another country in their immediate region (37%) or to other parts of Africa (10%). Only 20% would consider Europe as a destination should they actually emigrate. Others opt for North America and Asia.

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Africa’s Development Dynamics

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By Mario Pezzini, Director of the OECD Development Centre and Special Advisor to the OECD Secretary-General on Development


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
18th International Economic Forum on Africa


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The launch this week in Addis Ababa of the new flagship joint report Africa’s Development Dynamics 2018 alongside the African Union Commission reflects a fundamental commitment to an ongoing conversation on Africa, with Africa and for Africa. Thus, we did more than unveil a report on paper about the challenges of growth, jobs and inequalities. What we are also doing is strengthening an inclusive platform for policy dialogue on how best to turn Africa’s own vision and strategy for its development as captured in the African Union’s ambitious Agenda 2063 into reality and practice. And it is a platform in which we envision engaging with and involving more and more diverse actors to tap their expertise and add their perspectives to drafting future editions of our joint analysis.

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Towards sustainable cocoa: financial solutions for smallholders in Côte d’Ivoire

By Adeline Dontenville, Land-use and Finance Expert, EU REDD Facility, European Forest Institute

cocoa-1529742When you buy a chocolate bar, it’s quite likely that the cocoa in it came from Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s top producer. If so, it is almost certain that the cocoa plants were grown where dense rainforest once stood.

Expansion of cocoa production into new areas is amongst the main drivers of deforestation in Côte d’Ivoire. At current rates, the country will lose all its forest cover by 2034. Decoupling cocoa production from deforestation is therefore crucial if Côte d’Ivoire is to achieve its goals of producing zero-deforestation cocoa and restoring forest cover to 20% of its territory by 2030.

One solution for the Ivoirian government is agroforestry, a type of land management in which farmers grow not only crops but also a variety of trees for multiple purposes, like firewood, fruit and timber. It’s a way to produce cocoa while restoring forest cover, improving soil fertility and diversifying the income of producers.

But how can Côte d’Ivoire’s smallholders invest in agroforestry when they live below the poverty line and have limited access to finance? And how can large chocolate manufacturers that buy cocoa from smallholders help?
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