Compulsory course: Economic Development in Africa

Course content

A revised course description will be submitted as soon as possible.

The course will examine key dimensions and dynamics of economic development in Africa, exploring these in relation to global, regional, national and local contexts and their interconnectedness. It will have a particular focus on the debates and arguments around structural transformation of African economies, including the various factors that stimulate growth and productivity on the one hand, and produce inequality, marginalisation or underdevelopment on the other. Assuming the significance of power within all economic and social relations, the course will make use of interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological approaches – including political economy – to examine these relations. 


MA programme in African Studies

Learning outcome

The aim is for the student to acquire the following qualifications:

  • Knowledge of key dimensions of economic development in Africa
  • Knowledge of the diverse conditions, structures and actors affecting different economies within the continent
  • Knowledge of key concepts, theories and methodologies relevant for understanding and analysing economic development in Africa
  • Skills in analysing overall economic trends in Africa
  • Skills in analysing the key themes and arguments in contemporary debates on economic development in Africa
  • Competences to critically and independently assess various approaches to economic development in Africa

The course is organised in sessions of 2 hours twice per week over 7 weeks in the second half of the first semester. The course will be based on lectures combined with classroom discussions, requiring active participation from the students.

Suggested literature:

  • Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. A. (2010). Why Is Africa Poor? Economic History of Developing Regions, 25 (1), 21–50
  • Banerjee, A., & Duflo, E. (2011). Poor economics: A radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty. Public Affairs
  • Brautigam, D. (2011). The dragon's gift: the real story of China in Africa. OUP Oxford
  • Deaton, A. (2020). Randomisation in the tropics revisited: a theme and eleven variations (No. w27600). National Bureau of Economic Research
  • Easterly, W & Levine, R, (2003). "Tropics, germs, and crops: how endowments influence economic development," Journal of Monetary Economics, 50 (1) 3-39
  • Frankema, E., (2021) Why Africa is not that poor.  African Economic History Working Paper Series No. 61/2021
  • Frankema, E., & Van Waijenburg, M. (2018). Africa rising? A historical perspective. African Affairs117 (469), 543-568
  • Gollin, D. (2018). Structural transformation without industrialization. Pathways for Prosperity Commission Background Paper Series; no. 2. Oxford. United Kingdom
  • Hart, K. (2010). 'Informal Economy', in Hart, K, Laville, J and Cattani, A (eds), The Human Economy, Cambridge: Policy Press, pp. 142-153
  • Heldring, L., & Robinson, J. A. (2012). Colonialism and economic development in Africa (No. w18566). National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Jerven, M, (2015). 'Introduction', in Jerven Morten, Africa. Why Economists Get it Wrong, London: Zed Books, pp. Chapter 4 
  • Mkandawire, T. (2011). Running while others walk: Knowledge and the challenge of Africa's development. Africa Development36(2), 1-36
  • Mkandawire, T. (2015). "Neopatrimonialism and the Political Economy of Economic Performance in Africa: Critical Reflections". World Politics.  67(3).563-612. 
  • Moore, M., Prichard, W., & Fjeldstad, O. (2018). Taxing Africa: Coercion, Reform and Development. London: Zed Book

The course is only open for CAS MA students and professional master students.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Type of assessment details
Students write two assignments during the course, defined by the course lecturer, from whom they will receive feedback during the course. The length of each assignment should be between 10,500 and 12,000 characters with the total length of both assignments being between 21,000 and 24,000 characters. The final (revised) assignments are handed in as the exam paper as a single document during the exam period.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Exam period

Winter Exam

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 122
  • Exam Preparation
  • 59
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 210


Course number
7,5 ECTS
Programme level
Full Degree Master
Part Time Master
7 weeks, second half of the semester
First lesson is in week 44
Study board of African Studies
Contracting department
  • African Studies
Contracting faculty
  • Faculty of Theology
Course Coordinator
  • Abel Gwaindepi   (6-737e783a403e487c6d777436737d366c73)

Abel Gwaindepi

Saved on the 12-04-2024

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