23 September 2015 | Understanding Economic Transformation in Africa

Overseas Development Institute, London

Where do we go wrong, and what do we need to do differently to understand economic transformation in Africa?

Morten Jerven’s recent book “Africa, why economists get it wrong” questions what we really know about growth and economic transformation in Africa. He argues that mainstream economists have not used appropriate methodologies or sample periods, used data without critically assessing them, and focused on the wrong policies.

This event organised by ODI’s Supporting Economic Transformation (SET) programme discussed where we are going wrong and what should we be doing differently if we want to properly understand the prospects of economic transformation in low income countries. What are appropriate research methodologies, what data can be used, and what do we know about policies and institutions for economic transformation?

After an introduction to the main points in Jerven’s book, a number of speakers discussed the main questions: Blandina Kilama is an expert on economic transformation in Tanzania, Nick Crafts is a world leading authority on economic history, and Louise Fox is a leading voice on employment and labour markets in Africa.


Dirk Willem te Velde – Director, Supporting Economic Transformation, ODI


Morten Jerven – Associate Professor in Global Change and International Relations, Norwegian University of Life Sciences; Associate Professor, School for International Studies, Simon Fraser University

Blandina Kilama – Senior Researcher, REPOA, Tanzania

Nick Crafts – Professor of Economics and Economic History at the University of Warwick

Louise Fox – Visiting Professor, University of California, Berkeley


Morten Jerven Event Report

Understanding Eco Transformation- Blandina Kilama

Jerven’s book on African growth in 10 points Dirk Willem te Velde

Comments on Jerven and Economists in the Tropics Louise Fox

Africa-why economists get it wrong-Jerven-ODI 2015


Photo credit: UNU-WIDER