The Nordic Africa Institute

Seminar
Virtual

Digitalization and the Developmental State

Time • 26 Nov 2020 13:00 - 16:00
Place • Zoom platform
The deadline for abstracts/papers was 13 Jul 2020

In this virtual seminar two inter-related topics will be discussed, digitalization and the developmental state, and how they can be part of a long-term development agenda. 

After an optimistic start, the situation has become quite challenging in many African countries in terms of how to achieve the SDGs. It is hard to foresee how the world will change in the wake of the pandemic. But what we do know is that governments need to continue to design, formulate and implement policies that form part of an inclusive development agenda. A policy dialogue on Africa’s future development agenda needs not only to regain the momentum of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also to focus on long-term development, as outlined in the African Union Vision 2063: The Future We Want.


This event is by invitation only.

Featured Speakers

  • Njuguna S. Ndung'u is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Kenya (www.aercafrica.org). Before joining AERC, he held the position of Kenya's Central Bank Governor, from 2007 until March 2015. He holds a PhD in economics from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and master's and bachelor's degrees in economics from the University of Nairobi. Prior to his appointment as Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Prof. Ndung'u held positions at the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and at University of Nairobi, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).
  • Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa was most recently (2019) Economic Governance Advisor to the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Eswatini and Advisor (2018) at the Independent Evaluation Office of the IMF. He is currently Lead Consultant at Zziyika and Associates LLC and Fellow at the Institute for African Development of Cornell University. Previously, he was Acting Chief Economist and Vice-President at the African Development Bank, where he successively headed three departments: Strategy and Policy, Country Operations Department for East Africa B (covering Comoros, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, and South Sudan), and the Development Research Department. The presentation will be based on a forthcoming book entitled Developmental State of Africa in Practice: Looking East with Focus on South Koreaexternal link, opens in new window.

A more detaled programme will be available at a later stage.

The programme is subject to change.

 

  • Introduction
  • Digitalization and Inclusive Development: Prof. Njuguna Ndungu Director Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Discussion
  • Developmental State of Africa: Prof. Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa
  • Discussion
  • Concluding remarks

African economies are still fragile and vulnerable to external shocks. The repercussions of the Coronavirus pandemic have had major economic effects both at the individual level and for society generally. Recent events are likely to affect the plans to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). After an optimistic start, the situation has become quite challenging in many African countries in terms of how to achieve the SDGs. It is hard to foresee how the world will change in the wake of the pandemic. But what we do know is that governments need to continue to design, formulate and implement policies that form part of an inclusive development agenda. A policy dialogue on Africa’s future development agenda needs not only to regain the momentum of the Sustainable Development Goals, but also to focus on long-term development, as outlined in the African Union Vision 2063: The Future We Want.

Recent technological developments have not only changed the way we live, work and interact, but also reshaped the way and the cost of ‘doing development’. How can new technology employ the scarce resources more efficiently? While there are calls to intensify progress on the social protection agenda, it has also become clear – and particularly since the pandemic struck – that electronic payment systems are an important instrument for channelling resources from the government to poor and vulnerable groups. Fiscal systems in many African countries are weak, and only a few countries have the digital technology necessary to scale up social assistance programmes during a crisis. Moreover, some countries do not have the resources required to sustain those programmes. Economic shocks are difficult to predict, but the financing of development has to take a long-term perspective that can adapt to future shocks.

The global trade system has been under attack, and the recent crisis has raised questions on how to deal with supply chains that have been disrupted. Globalisation provides both opportunities and challenges, and questions have been raised as to whether the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can offer a trading system that is more supportive of African industrialisation. However, opportunities are changing in the digital age, with the servicification of industrial sectors, as automation and human capital-intensive modes of production become more important. But digitalisation also opens up new opportunities and new country-markets, and this is likely to be an important part of how we think about structural transformation in the future.

How successful this transformation is will also depend on human capital development. In the longer term, investment in the population – that is, investment in education and health – will be an important factor not only in addressing income inequality, but also in harnessing the demographic dividend. This is particularly important in countries with finite natural resources: they will see declining incomes, unless resource rents are invested in physical and human capital, in a bid to diversify their economies. There are a number of areas where many African countries face challenges. In many cases, there is no quick fix: often the problems have been engendered by developmental challenges of long duration. In this workshop, we intend to take a fresh look at some of the recurring themes on the development agenda.

Photo credit for use on homepage and social media: EU 2019, Bertha Wangari

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