nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2014‒03‒22
nine papers chosen by

  1. Ethno-regional favouritism in Sub-Saharan Africa By Ahlerup, Pelle; Isaksson, Ann-Sofie
  2. The laffer curve and the debt-growth link in low-income Sub-Saharan African economies By Megersa, kelbesa
  3. Smallholder Participation in the Commercialisation of Vegetables: Evidence from Kenyan Panel Data By Muriithi, Beatrice; Matz, Julia
  4. The Role of Renewable Energy Consumption and Trade: Environmental Kuznets Curve Analysis for Sub-Saharan Africa Countries By Ben Jebli, Mehdi; Ben Youssef, Slim; Ozturk, Ilhan
  5. Women’s Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa By Oriana Bandiera; Niklas Buehren; Robin Burgess; Markus Goldstein; Selim Gulesci; Imran Rasul; Munshi Sulaiman
  6. Extortion with Protection: Understanding the effect of rebel taxation on civilian welfare in Burundi By Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Philip Verwimp
  7. Why Pay NGOs to Involve the Community? By Ronelle Burger; Indraneel Dasgupta; Trudy Owens
  8. The nexus between gender, collective action for public goods, and agriculture : evidence from Malawi By McCarthy, Nancy; Kilic, Talip
  9. Supermarkets and the Nutrition Transition in Kenya By Rischke, Ramona; Simon, Chege Kimenju; Matin, Qaim; Stephan, Klasen

  1. By: Ahlerup, Pelle (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University); Isaksson, Ann-Sofie (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: Abstract: Studies of political favouritism in Africa often treat ethnic and regional favouritism as interchangeable concepts. The present paper distinguishes between the two and investigates their relative influence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Focusing on whether individuals perceive their ethnic group to be unfairly treated by government, we assess the importance of being a co-ethnic of the country president, of living in the president’s region of origin and of the regional share of president co-ethnics. Empirical findings drawing on detailed individual level survey data covering more than 19 000 respondents across 15 African countries suggest that ethnic and regional favouritism are not the same, but rather have independent effects.
    Keywords: ethnic favouritism; regional favouritism; Africa
    JEL: D63 D72 O12 O55
    Date: 2014–03–13
  2. By: Megersa, kelbesa
    Abstract: The study of the link between debt and growth has been full of debates, both in theory and empirics. However, there is a growing consensus that the relationship is sensitive to the level of debt. Our paper tries to address the question of non linearity in the long term relationship between public debt and economic growth. Specifically, we set out to test if there exists an established ‘laffer curve’ type relationship, where debt contributes to economic growth up to a certain point (maximal threshold) and then starts to have a negative effect on growth afterwards. To carry out our tests, we have used a methodology that delivers a superior test of bell shapes, in addition to the traditional test based on a regression with a quadratic specification. The results show evidence of a bell-shaped relationship between economic growth and total public debt in a panel of low income Sub-Saharan African economies. This supports the hypothesis that debt has some positive contribution to economic growth in low-income countries, albeit up to a point. If debt goes on increasing beyond the level where it would be sustainable, it may start to be a drag on economic growth.
    Keywords: public debt, economic growth, laffer curve, low-income countries, Sub-Saharan Africa
    JEL: C1 C12 C14 C4 E62 G01 H5 H61 H63 H68 N17 O1 O11 O55 P52
    Date: 2014–03–12
  3. By: Muriithi, Beatrice; Matz, Julia
    Abstract: This paper describes the participation of smallholders in commercial horticultural farming in Kenya and identifies constraints and critical factors that influence their decision to participate in this industry by selling their produce. The study employs panel survey data on smallholder producers of both international (export) and domestic market vegetables and controls for unobserved heterogeneity across farmers. We find that participation of smallholders in both the domestic and export vegetable markets declined and that this trend is associated with weather risks, high costs of inputs and unskilled labour, and erratic vegetable prices, especially in the international market. Different factors are at play in determining a household’s market choice for the commercialisation of vegetables: credit is important only when vegetables are (also) exported, livestock ownership is negatively related to production for the domestic market, and distance to the nearest market town positively related to all pathways of commercialisation, for example.
    Keywords: horticulture, commercialisation, smallholders, Kenya, Agribusiness, International Relations/Trade, Marketing, O10, Q12, Q13, Q17,
    Date: 2014–02
  4. By: Ben Jebli, Mehdi; Ben Youssef, Slim; Ozturk, Ilhan
    Abstract: Based on the Environmental Kuznets Curve (EKC) hypothesis, this paper uses panel cointegration techniques to investigate the short and the long-run relationship between CO2 emissions, economic growth, renewable energy consumption and trade openness for a panel of 24 Sub-Saharan Africa countries over the period 1980-2010. The validity of the EKC hypothesis has not been supported for these countries. Short-run Granger causality results reveal that there is a bidirectional causality between emissions and economic growth; bidirectional causality between emissions and real exports; unidirectional causality from real imports to emissions; and unidirectional causality runs from trade (exports or imports) to renewable energy consumption. There is an indirect short-run causality running from emissions to renewable energy and an indirect short-run causality from GDP to renewable energy. In the long-run, the error correction term is statistically significant for emissions, renewable energy consumption and trade openness. The long-run estimates suggest that real GDP per capita and real imports per capita both have a negative and statistically significant impact on per capita CO2 emissions. The impact of the square of real GDP per capita and real exports per capita are both positive and statistically significant on per capita CO2 emissions. For the model with imports, renewable energy consumption per capita has a positive impact on per capita emissions. One policy recommendation is that Sub-Saharan countries should expand their trade exchanges particularly with developed countries and try to maximize their benefit from technology transfer generated by such trade relations as this increases their renewable energy consumption.
    Keywords: Environmental Kuznets Curve; Renewable electricity consumption; International trade; Panel cointegration; Sub-Sahara.
    JEL: C33 F14 O55 Q43
    Date: 2014–03–07
  5. By: Oriana Bandiera; Niklas Buehren; Robin Burgess; Markus Goldstein; Selim Gulesci; Imran Rasul; Munshi Sulaiman
    Abstract: Women in developing countries are disempowered relative to their contemporaries in developed countries. High youth unemployment and early marriage and childbearing interact to limit human capital investment and enforce dependence on men. In this paper we evaluate an attempt to jump-start adolescent women's empowerment in the world's second youngest country: Uganda. In this two-pronged intervention, adolescent girls are simultaneously provided vocational training and information on sex, reproduction and marriage. Relative to adolescents in control communities, after two years the intervention raises the likelihood that girls engage in income generating activities by 72% (mainly driven by increased participation in self-employment), and raises their monthly consumption expenditures by 41%. Teen pregnancy falls by 26%, and early entry into marriage/cohabitation falls by 58%. Strikingly, the share of girls reporting sex against their will drops from 14% to almost half that level and preferred ages of marriage and childbearing both move forward. The findings indicate that women's economic and social empowerment can be jump-started through the combined provision of vocational and life skills, and is not necessarily held back by insurmountable constraints arising from binding social norms.
    JEL: I25 J13 J24 O12
    Date: 2014–03
  6. By: Rachel Sabates-Wheeler; Philip Verwimp
    Abstract: Using a panel dataset from Burundi where information on protection payments during the 10 year civil war were collected, we test the relationship between payments, the nature of extraction by the rebels, and welfare outcomes. We ask, does payment to rebels insure against future welfare loss and does the nature of payment matter? Specifically, does the level of institutionalisation of extraction within the rebel governance structure provide a form of insurance for future welfare? No less than 30% of the interviewees made at least one payment. Rebels extract these taxes through one of two routes: an ‘institutionalised’ and regular cash-with-receipt method or an ad hoc and unpredictable labour extraction. Using matching methods we find that payment through the institutionalised route increases household welfare between 16 and 25%. Ad hoc extraction has no effect. We situate our findings in the empirical literatures on contributions to mafia-type organisations and rebel governance.
    Keywords: extortion; taxation; forced labour; welfare; rebellion; Africa
    Date: 2014–01–30
  7. By: Ronelle Burger; Indraneel Dasgupta; Trudy Owens
    Abstract: We examine the case for donors providing financial incentives to NGOs to increase community participation. We show that, when such incentives are provided, there need not exist any meaningful relationship between beneficiary welfare and the extent of community participation implemented by an NGO. Higher community participation is consistent even with reduced beneficiary welfare. Thus, eliminating community participation from the set of conditions for funding an NGO may improve beneficiary welfare. We provide evidence from the NGO sector in Uganda consistent with our theoretical conclusions. Beneficiaries themselves do not appear to perceive community participation as generating appreciable value-addition in project output.
    Keywords: Regulation of non-governmental organizations, developing countries, community participation, Uganda
  8. By: McCarthy, Nancy; Kilic, Talip
    Abstract: Across the developing world, public goods exert significant impacts on the local rural economy in general and agricultural productivity and welfare outcomes in particular. Economic and social-cultural heterogeneity have, however, long been documented as detrimental to collective capacity to provide public goods. In particular, women are often under-represented in local leadership and decision-making processes, as are young adults and minority ethnic groups. While democratic principles dictate that broad civic engagement by women and other groups could improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local governance and increase public goods provision, the empirical evidence on these hypotheses is scant. This paper develops a theoretical model highlighting the complexity of constructing a"fair"schedule of individual contributions, given heterogeneity in costs and benefits that accrue to people depending, for instance, on their gender, age, ethnicity, and education. The model demonstrates that representative leadership and broad participation in community organizations can mitigate the negative impacts of heterogeneity on collective capacity to provide public goods. Nationally-representative household survey data from Malawi, combined with geospatial and administrative information, are used to test this hypothesis and estimate the relationship between collective capacity for public goods provision and community median estimates of maize yields and household consumption expenditures per capita. The analysis shows that similarities between the leadership and the general population, in terms of gender and age, and active participation by women and young adults in community groups alleviate the negative effects of heterogeneity and increase collective capacity, which in turn improves agricultural productivity and welfare.
    Keywords: Economic Theory&Research,Housing&Human Habitats,Civil Society,Debt Markets,Community Development and Empowerment
    Date: 2014–03–01
  9. By: Rischke, Ramona; Simon, Chege Kimenju; Matin, Qaim; Stephan, Klasen
    Abstract: Many low income countries are experiencing a “nutrition transition” towards the consumption of more energy-dense, highly processed foods and beverages that are often high in caloric sweeteners, fat and salt. Changing lifestyles and urbanisation have coincided with a ‘retail revolution’, a rapid advance of supermarkets even in remote areas. Among the consequences of the nutrition transition have been expanding waistlines and surging rates of nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, including diabetes, heart diseases and certain cancers. Given the still prevailing rates of under-nutrition, affected countries face a double burden of malnutrition, and individuals that have overcome food poverty risk often remain health-poor. The effect of supermarkets on consumers’ diets and the nutrition transition remains unclear: By offering stable and consistent access to a wide range of foods with different dietary qualities, supermarkets could either discourage or contribute to the consumption of a well-balanced diet. This paper investigates the effect of supermarkets on consumption patterns using cross-sectional household survey data collected in Kenya in 2012. In order to establish causality, our sample was designed to be quasiexperimental in nature, with study sites differing in terms of supermarket access. We employ instrumental variable techniques to account for potential endogeneity due to selection effects regarding supermarket purchases. Our findings suggest that supermarket purchases increase the consumption of processed foods at the expense of unprocessed foods. Supermarkets are associated with higher expenditure shares and calorie shares of processed foods, and with increased per capita calorie availability. The latter effect is supported by lower prices per calorie for processed food items. Supermarket purchases have a positive effect on dietary diversity, but implications for the nutrient adequacy of consumers remain unclear.
    Keywords: Nutrition transition, supermarkets, food consumption, malnutrition, overweight, obesity, Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety, Food Security and Poverty, Health Economics and Policy, D12, I14, I15, I32,
    Date: 2014–01

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.