skip to primary navigationskip to content

Development issues in sub- Saharan Africa

 Development Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa


Coordinator: Richard Sidebottom (Centre of Development Studies)

Lecturers:  Richard Sidebottom (Centre of Development Studies) and Dr Shailaja Fennell


Aims and objectives:

With a focus on contextual diagnosis and practical application, students on this course learn through active participation in lectures and workshop presentations. The course covers a number of core themes including food security, entrepreneurship, youth employment, natural capital and technology to illustrate the multi-faceted nature of the SSA development paradigm(s).


Background Readings:

Booth, D., 2012, Development as a collective action problem, Synthesis report Africa Power & Politics Programme,

Brautigam, D., 2009, The Dragon's Gift: The Real story of China in Africa, Oxford Univ Press

Juma, C., 2011, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, OUP, Oxford, 2011

Kirsten, J. F. , Dorward, A., Poulton, C., & Vink, N., eds. (2009) Institutional Economics Perspectives on African Agricultural Development. Washington D. C.: International Food Policy Research Institute.

Page, J., 2014, Africa’s Failure to Industrialize: Bad Luck or Bad Policy?

Additional lecture readings are provided below and a wider reading list will be distributed during term.


Method of assessment

Assessment is by means of one 5,000 word essay. 


Format: 14 weekly lectures and 2 workshops


    Date             Lecture

10/10/16          Painting pictures: What's the problem? Where are we going?

17/10/16          Historical perspective: Glancing back to look forward …..

24/10/16          Agriculture 1: Why does SSA import food?

31/10/16          Agriculture 2: Why doesn't SSA make chocolate?

07/11/16          Human Capital 1: Demographics and Education

14/11/16          Human capital 2: Entrepreneurs and workers

21/11/16          Natural Capital 1: Is there a resource curse?

28/11/16          Recap and workshop: Where have we been?


23/01/17          Natural Capital 2: Sustainable development initiatives

30/01/17          Industry & Trade 1: Impact of Globalisation

06/02/17          Industry & Trade 2: Where are the manufacturers?

13/02/17          Financial capital 1: Market failure or market myopia?

20/02/17          Financial capital 2: Aid or trade?

27/02/17          Physical capital 1: Let there be light

06/03/17          Physical capital 2: Building bridges and South-South relations

13/03/17          Recap and workshop: Where have we been?

Michaelmas Term

  1. 1.      Painting pictures: What's the problem? Where are we going?

This lecture will discuss narratives, frameworks of analysis and provide a roadmap of the course


Agriculture in Africa: Telling Facts from Myths, 2015, World Bank, available at

Sub-Saharan Africa, Chapter 2 from Global Economic Prospects,

Taylor, I., 2014, Africa Rising? BRICS - Diversifying Dependency, James Currey

  1. 2.      Historical perspective: Glancing back to look forward …..

The focus of this course is the here and now. This lecture provides our only look back to examine evidence of continuing legacies in terms of governance, social conflict, international relations and notions of nationhood.


Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S., & Robinson, J.A., 2001, The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: an Empirical Investigation, American Economic Review, Vol 91, No 5, Dec, 2001

Chang, H.J., 2006, How important are Initial Conditions for Economic Development – East Asia vs SSA in HJ Chang, The East Asian Development Experience, ZED Press, London

Gallup, J.L., Mellinger, A.D., & Sachs, J.D., 1998, Geography and Economic Development, National Bureau of Economic Research, WP 6849, Cambridge, MA, 1998

  1. 3.      Agriculture 1: Why does SSA import food?

This first lecture on agriculture focuses on food security. We examine the multi-dimensional nature of the problem including discussion of rural institutions, markets and innovation

Diao, X., Hazell, P., Resnick, D., & Thurlow, J., 2007, The Role of Agriculture in Development, IFPRI Research report 153 available from

Dietz, T., 2013, Comparing the Agricultural Performance of Africa and South East Asia over the last Fifty years, in Berendsen, B., Dietz, T.,  Nordholt, HS &  van der Veen, R., eds, 2013, Asian Tigers, African Lions: Comparing the Development Performance of Southeast Asia & Africa, Brill, Leiden, 2013

Hillocks, R.J, 2015, Addressing the yield gap in Sub-Saharan Africa, Outlook on Agriculture Vol 43, No 2, 2014, pp 85-90 doi: 10.5367/oa.2014.0163

Juma, C., Tabo., R, Wilson, K. & Conway, G, 2013, Innovation for Sustainable Intensification in Africa, The Montpellier Panel, Agriculture for Impact, London

Paarlberg, R., 2013, Genetically Modified Foods and Crops: Africa's Choice, in Genetically modified crops in Africa, Falck-Zepeda, J., Gruere, G., & Sithole-Niang, I., 2013, International Food Policy Research Institution, Washington D.C., 2013

  1. 4.      Agriculture 2: Why doesn't SSA make chocolate?

The second Agriculture lecture examines obstacles to upgrading along food and cash crop value chains in West Africa

Auty, R., 2010, Development Policy Review, 2010, 28 (4): 411-433, Elites, Rent-Cycling and Development: Adjustment to Land Scarcity in Mauritius, Kenya and Côte d’Ivoire

Kolavalli, S, Vigneri, M., Maamah, H., & Poku, J., 2012, The Partially liberalised cocoa sector in Ghana, International Food Policy Research Institute, accessed 3/1/2013 10:00

Whitfield L., & Ouma, S., 2012, The Making and Remaking of Agro-Industries in Africa, Journal of Development Studies, Vol. 48, No. 3, 03.2012, p. 301-307.


  1. 5.      Human Capital 1: Demographics and Education

The first of our lectures on Human capital analyses the implications of SSA’s demographic ‘dividend’ for education, training, migration and job creation.

AfDB, 2011, AfDB’s Human Capital Development Strategy (2012-2016), One Billion Opportunities: Building Human Capital for Inclusive Growth in Africa, Oct, 2011,


Ansu, Y. & Tan, J-P, 2012, Skills Development for Economic Growth in SSA in Noman, A., Botchwey, K., Stein, H., & Stiglitz, J., Good Growth & Governance in Africa, 2012, OUP

Easterly, W. & Levine, R., 1997, Africa’s Growth Tragedy: Politics and Ethnic Divisions, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112 (4), Nov, 1997, pp 1203-50

IMF, 2014, Africa Rising: Harnessing the Demographic Dividend, Drummond, P., Thakoor, V., & Shu Yu IMF WP, African Dep’t, Aug.2014,

  1. 6.      Human capital 2: Entrepreneurs and workers

Lecture 6 uses the platform provided in previous lectures to examine policy initiatives aimed at resolving SSA’s food security and youth unemployment problems by encouraging youth entrepreneurship in agriculture

AGRA, 2015, African Agriculture Status Report, 2015: Youth in Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa, Alliance for a Green revolution in Africa

Page, J., 2012, Youth, Jobs, and Structural Change: Confronting Africa’s “Employment Problem”, African Development Banking Group WP 155, Oct 2012

Sidebottom, R.I., 2016, Scoping Study: Entrepreneurship for Aid & Trade (EAT) in Africa, Report for Biosciences for Farming in Africa, Cambridge, August, 2016

Sumberg, J., Anyidoho, N.A., Chasukwa, M., Chinsinga, B., Leavy, J., Tadele, G., Whitfield, S., & Yaro, J., 2014, Young People, agriculture and employment in rural Africa, WIDER Worpking Paper 2014/080, United Nations University,


  1. 7.      Natural Capital 1: Is there a resource curse?

Auty, R., 1994, Industrial policy reform in six large newly industrializing countries: The resource curse thesis, World Development, Volume 22, Issue 1, January 1994, Pages 11–26

Collier, P. & O’Connell, S.A., 2008, Opportunities & choices, in Ndulu, B.J., O’Connell, S.A., Bates, R.H., Collier, P., & Soludo, C., (eds) 2008, Political Economy of Ec. Growth in Africa 1960-2000, OUP

McKinley, T., 2008, The Resource Curse, Development Digest No 1, 2008, Centre for Development Policy and Research,

Rabah A., Gylfason, T., & Sy, A., 2012, Beyond the Curse: Policies to Harness the Power of Natural Resources, IMF

Rosser, A., 2006, The Political Economy of the Resource Curse: A Literature Survey, IDS Working Paper 268

Sachs, J.D. & Warner, M., 1997, Sources of slow growth in African economies, J. of Af. Econ. 6:335-76


  1. 8.      Recap and workshop: Where have we been?

The workshop will provide a recap of the term’s lectures and allow students to offer short presentations in preparation for their first written assignment.


  1. 9.      Natural Capital 2: Sustainable development initiatives

This lecture will develop the themes of climate change, food security and engagement with Global value chains to assess various sustainable means of development including GM technology; Fairtrade and other certification labels in Burkina Faso; Kenya; and South Africa

Daviron, B. & Vagneron, I., 2011, From Commoditisation to De-commoditisation … and Back Again: Discussing the Role of Sustainability Standards for Agricultural Products, Development Policy Review, 2011, 29 (1): 91-113  

Juma, C., 2011, The New Harvest – Agricultural Innovation in Africa, OUP, Oxford, 2011ISAAA, 2013, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications

Water Efficient Maize,;

World Development Report, 2010, Development and Climate Change, Overview,

  1. 10.  Industry & Trade 1: Impact of Globalisation

This lecture will examine whether SSA has become marginalised by the forces of Globalisation and discuss how SSA can join Global Value chains as a springboard to development.


ACET, 2013, Report 2013 Intra-African Trade: Unlocking Private Sector Dynamism African Center for Economic Transformation, 2014, African Transformation Report: Growth with Depth,

Dolan, C. & Humphrey, J., 2000, Governance ad Trade in Fresh vegetables: The Impact of UK Supermarkets on the African Horticulture Industry

Gibbon, P & Ponte, S., 2005, Trading Down: Africa, Value Chains and the Global Economy, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, USA

Page, J., 2014, Africa’s Failure to Industrialize: Bad Luck or Bad Policy?

Raikes, P & Gibbon, P., 2000, Globalisation & African Export crop agriculture, J. of Peasant Studies, 27:2, 50-93.


  1. 11.  Industry & Trade 2: Where are the manufacturers?

Morris, M., & Barnes, J., 2008, Research & Statistics Branch Working Paper 10/2008, Globalization, the Changed Global Dynamics of the Clothing & Textile Value Chains & the Impact on Sub-Saharan Africa

Noman, A. & Stiglitz, J.E., 2012, Strategies for African Development, in Noman, A., Botchwey, K., Stein, H., & Stiglitz, J., Good Growth & Governance in Africa, 2012, OUP, Oxford, pp 51-175

Page, J., 2012, Can Africa Industrialise? J of African Economies, Vol 21, AERC Supplement, pp ii86-125

Stiglitz, J, Lin, J, Monga, C, & Patel, E, 2013, Industrial policy in the African context, W.Bank WP 6633

UNECA, 2016, (forthcoming) Smart Industrial Policy for Africa in the 21st Century, A report submitted to United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Chang, HJ., Hauge, J.L., & Irfan, M., 2016

  1. 12.  Financial capital 1: Market failure or market myopia?

This lecture examines how commodity traders and microfinance institutions have tried to address issues of information asymmetry and contract enforcement in credit markets.

Bateman, M & Chang, HJ. 2012, Microfinance & the Illusion of Development: From Hubris to Nemesis in Thirty Years, World Economic Review, Vol 1:13-36, 2012

Juma, C., 2011, Africa’s New Engine, Finance & Development, 2011, external/ pubs/ft/ fandd 2011/12/ pdf/juma.pdf

Rooyen, C., Stewart, R., & de Wet, T. 2012, The Impact of Microfinance in SSA: A Systematic Review of the Evidence, World Development, Vol 40, No 11, 2249-2262

Tschirley, D.L., Poulton, C., Gergely, N., Labaste, P., Baffes, J., Boughton, D., & Estur, G, 2010, Institutional Diversity & Performance in African Cotton sectors, Development Policy Review, 2010, 28 (3), pp 295-323


  1. 13.  Financial capital 2: Aid or trade?

This lecture will examine the development implications of various domestic and external sources of funds including Taxation; debt; aid; private equity; and FDI.

Barbarinde, O., 2012, The Private Equity Market in Africa, Journal of Private Equity, Winter, 16:1

Easterly, W, 2006, The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill & So Little Good, Oxford Univ Press

Moyo, D., 2009, Dead Aid: Why Aid is not working & how there is a better way, Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Oya, C. & Pons-Vignon, N., 2010, Aid, Development and the State in Africa, Chapter 19 in Padayachee, V., Political Economy of Africa, Routledge, 2010

Stiglitz, J.E. & Charlton, 2005, A., Fair Trade for all, How Trade can promote development, OUP, 2005

Sy, A., 2015, A Crucial Year for Financing Development in Africa, Foresight Africa, Brookings Institution, Africa Growth Initiative,

  1. 14.  Physical capital 1: Let there be light

We will examine efforts to address SSA’s energy deficit though conventional and sustainable off-grid initiatives.


Foster, V. & Briceno-Garmendia, C., 2010, Africa’s Infrastructure, A Time for Transformation, World Bank, 2010,

Kirubi, C., Jacobson, A., Kammen, D.J., & Mills, a, 2009, Community-Based Electric Micro-Grids Can Contribute to Rural Development: Evidence from Kenya World Dev. V.37, No. 7, pp. 1208–1221, 2009

Lessons Learned from the Smart Villages Engagement Programme in East Africa, Briefing No 7, Sept, 2015,

  1. 15.  Physical capital 2: Building bridges and South-South relations

This lecture will discuss how the changing face of SSA-International relations impacts engagement with Western donors, trading partners & infrastructure providers.


Brautigam, D, 2011, Aid ‘With Chinese Characteristics’: Chinese Foreign Aid &  Development Finance Meet The OECD‐DAC Aid Regime, Journal of International Development J. Int. Dev. 23, 752–764 (2011) Published online in Wiley Online Library ( DOI: 10.1002/jid.1798

Collier, P., 2013, ‘Unlocking Private Finance for African Infrastructure, unlocking-private-finance-african-infrastructure/

Lin, Y. & Wang, Y. (2014). China-Africa Cooperation in Structural Transformation: Ideas, Opportunities & Finances”, UNUWIDER WP 014/046,

Rupp, S., 2008, Africa and China: Engaging Postcolonial Interdependencies in Rotberg, R.I., 2008 (eds), China into Africa, Trade, Aid and Influence, Brookings Institution Press, Washington

Shen., X., 2013, Private Chinese Investment in Africa: Myths and Realities, World Bank Policy Research Paper, 6311, World Bank, Jan, 2013

UNCTAD (2013). “The Rise of BRICS FDI & Africa”, Global Investment Trends Monitor


  1. 16.  Recap and workshop: Where have we been?

The final workshop will recap the entire course, provide a platform for individual/group presentations and open debate. We will also cover the second assignment.