nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2015‒02‒22
thirteen papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. Child Malnutrition, Agricultural Diversification and Commercialization among Smallholder Farmers in Eastern Zambia By Mofya-Mukuka, Rhoda; Kulhgatz, Christian H.
  2. Female genital mutilation and migration in Mali. Do migrants transfer social norms? By Idrissa Diabate; Sandrine Mesplé-Somps
  3. Togo: recent political and economic development By Kohnert, Dirk
  4. The Elasticity of Poverty with respect to Sectoral Growth in Africa By N. Berardi; F. Marzo
  5. It worked in China, so why not in Africa? The political economy challenge of Special Economic Zones By Farole, Thomas; Moberg, Lotta
  6. The practice of industrial policy: Lessons for Africa: Co-ordination through an Asian lens By Lin, Justin Yifu; Vu, Khuong Minh
  7. Assessing the impact of social grants on inequality: A South African case study By Schiel, Reinhard; Leibbrandt, Murray; Lam, David
  8. Islamic finance and Africa Economic Resurgence: Opportunities and Challenges (Research Paper) By Muhammad Al Amine, Muhammad Al Bashir
  9. Transportation Technology and Economic Change: The Impact of Colonial Railroads on City Growth in Africa By Remi Jedwab; Alexander Moradi
  10. History, Path Dependence and Development: Evidence from Colonial Railroads, Settlers and Cities in Kenya By Remi Jedwab; Edward Kerby; Alexander Moradi
  11. Health information, treatment, and worker productivity: Experimental evidence from Malaria testing and treatment among Nigerian sugarcane cutters By Andrew Dillon; Jed Friedman; Pieter Serneels
  12. Growth, Inequality, and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recent Progress in a Global Context By Augustin Kwasi Fosu
  13. Women's Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa By Oriana Bandiera; Robin Burgess; Selim Gulesci; Imran Rasul; Munshi Sulaiman

  1. By: Mofya-Mukuka, Rhoda; Kulhgatz, Christian H.
    Abstract: With only a few months remaining, Zambia still has a long way to achieving the millennium development goal of halving the number of stunted children by the end of 2015. Almost half of the children in Zambia remain undernourished and 40% of them have stunted growth, a long term malnutrition effect. This makes Zambia one of the countries with the highest levels of malnutrition in the world. The most vulnerable are the children from rural households which depend entirely on rainfed seasonal agricultural production and income, and survive on diets that are deficient in proteins and other important nutrients.
    Keywords: Zambia, Malnutrition, Agricultural and Food Policy, Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety,
  2. By: Idrissa Diabate (INSTAT, Mali); Sandrine Mesplé-Somps (IRD, UMR DIAL, PSL, Université Paris-Dauphine)
    Abstract: In this paper, we investigate how powerful a mechanism migration is in the transmission of social norms, taking Mali and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as a case study. Mali has a strong FGM culture and a long-standing history of migration. We use an original household-level database coupled with census data to analyze the extent to which girls living in villages with high rates of return migrants are less prone to FGM. Malians migrate predominantly to other African countries where female circumcision is uncommon (e.g. Côte d’Ivoire) and to countries where FGM is totally banned (France and other developed countries) and where anti-FGM information campaigns frequently target African migrants. Taking a two-step instrumental variable approach to control for the endogeneity of migration decisions, we show that return migrants have a negative and significant influence on FGM. We also show that adults living in villages with return migrants are more in favor of legislation against FGM.________________________________ Dans cet article, nous examinons dans quelle mesure la migration est un vecteur de transferts de normes sociales en étudiant le lien entre migration et excision au Mali. Alors que l’excision est fortement répandue au Mali, ce pays a une forte tradition migratoire vers les pays limitrophes et les pays du Nord où l’excision est soit moins pratiquée soit sanctionnée par la loi. Nous testons l’hypothèse que les migrants acquièrent des opinions différentes en la matière dans les pays d’accueil où l’excision est moins fréquente voire interdite et qu’une fois de retour ils induisent un changement de comportement dans leurs villages d’origine. Nous mobilisons une base originale de données sur l’excision des filles de 0 à 14 ans couplée avec des données de recensement qui permettent de mesurer les taux de migration (courante et de retour) des villages de résidence des personnes interrogées et mettons en œuvre une méthode instrumentale pour contrôler de l’endogénéité de la migration. Nous montrons que les migrants de retour ont effectivement une influence négative et significative sur le risque d’excision et que ce résultat provient essentiellement des migrants de Côte d’Ivoire. Nous montrons également que les adultes vivant dans les villages avec des migrants de retour sont plus en faveur de la législation contre les mutilations génitales.
    Keywords: Female Genital Excision, social transfers, migration, Mali, Excision, transferts sociaux.
    JEL: I15 O55 F22
    Date: 2014–12
  3. By: Kohnert, Dirk
    Abstract: Backed by peaceful but undemocratic presidential (2010) and legislative (July 2013) elections the Gnassingbé regime consolidated its power. In view of the absolute majority of the ruling party, its inclination for meaningful constitutional and electoral reforms, as demanded by the opposition and international donors, was further reduced. Overriding concerns for stability in West Africa in view of growing Islamist threats in neighbouring countries made that the delayed democratic reforms including the time and again reported local elections were condoned by the donor community. However, simmering discontent of the hardliners among the security forces and the barons of the ruling party was still visible. The opposition tried in vain to overcome its divide between its moderate and radical wing. An alliance of opposition parties and civic groups opposed the regime peacefully by frequent, often violently suppressed demonstrations with little effect. Arson attacks on the markets of Lomè and Kara in January 2013 served as pretense to harass opposition leaders. Human rights records of the government remained tarnished. The tense political climate persisted in view of the upcoming presidential elections in April 2015 and the apparent determination of the President to stay in power a third and eventually even a fourth term whatever the cost. Despite undeniable improvements of the framework and outside appearance of major institutions of the regime during the survey period it remained a façade democracy. However, the international community, notably African peers, the AU and ECOWAS, but also the Bretton-Woods Institutions, China and the EU, followed a ‘laissez faire’ approach in the interest of stability and their proper national interest in dealings with the country. Economic growth perspectives remained promising, expected to increase to 6.0% in 2014 and 6.3% in 2015, last but not least because of heavy assistance by the international donor community. However, growth is neither sustainable nor inclusive. It is overshadowed by increasing inter-personal and regional inequality as well as an upturn in extreme poverty.
    Keywords: democratization, governance, fragile states, economic development, aid, EU, Togo, West Africa, ECOWAS
    JEL: A14 F35 H7 N97 O17 O55 Z13
    Date: 2015–02
  4. By: N. Berardi; F. Marzo
    Abstract: The African continent has grown by more than 4 per cent yearly on average during the past decade. However, the link between this remarkable growth rate and poverty reduction is neither obvious nor simple. This paper focuses on the elasticity of poverty with respect to GDP growth at the sectoral level and takes into account the fact that economic growth may affect poverty directly as well as indirectly through sectoral labor share intensity. It develops a methodology that sheds light on the contribution of sectoral growth to poverty reduction country-by-country in Africa, guiding policy recommendations. As the composition of growth matters at least as much as its overall intensity, it is key to identify the sectors that have the strongest impact on poverty reduction and unleash their potential; if growth happens to concentrate in sectors with scarce pro-poor potential, like commodity-driven growth, redistributive strategies are necessary to compensate the weak effect on poverty.
    Keywords: elasticity of poverty, sectoral growth, labor intensity, pro-poor growth.
    JEL: O40 I32 J21
    Date: 2015
  5. By: Farole, Thomas; Moberg, Lotta
    Abstract: African countries have sought to replicate the success of East Asia by implementing special economic zones. Despite decades of international experience, there remains no blueprint for successful special economic zone policies, and the majority of special
    Keywords: decomposition, Gini coefficient, inequality, Shapley.s value, Togo
    Date: 2014
  6. By: Lin, Justin Yifu; Vu, Khuong Minh
    Abstract: African countries are facing great opportunities but also formidable challenges in accelerating economic growth and sustaining a high level of economic performance. The experiences of East Asian countries may offer valuable insights for African leaders an
    Keywords: new structural economics, industrial policy, strategy, Asia, Africa
    Date: 2014
  7. By: Schiel, Reinhard; Leibbrandt, Murray; Lam, David
    Abstract: The democratic government in South Africa has developed a system of social grants to combat the high levels of poverty and inequality inherited from the apartheid regime. With the help of modest economic growth and an associated increase in per capita hou
    Keywords: social grants, household survey data, income inequality, South Africa
    Date: 2014
  8. By: Muhammad Al Amine, Muhammad Al Bashir (The Islamic Research and Teaching Institute (IRTI))
    Abstract: This book is a research study that outlines briefly the different opportunities for Islamic finance in Africa for Islamic finance investors and the financial system in Africa and its economic development. This study treats also the challenges facing the development of Islamic finance in Africa.
    Keywords: Islamic finance; Africa; Economic Resurgence; Opportunities; Challenges
    Date: 2014
  9. By: Remi Jedwab; Alexander Moradi
    Abstract: What is the impact of modern transportation technology on long-run economic change in poor countries with high trade costs?  Rail construction in colonial Sub-Saharan Africa provides a natural experiment: 90% of African rail-road lines were built before independence, in a context where headloading was the dominant transportation technology.  Using new data on railroads and cities over one century within one country, Ghana, and Africa as a whole, we find large permanent effects of transportation technology on economic development.  First, colonial railroads had strong effects on commercial agriculture and urban growth before independence. We exploit various identification strategies to ensure these effects are causal.  Second, using the fact that African railroads fell largely out of use post-independence, due to mismanagement and lack of maintenance, we show that colonial railroads had a persistent impact on cities.  While colonial sunk investments (e.g. schools, hospitals and roads) partly contributed to urban path dependence, evidence suggests that railroad cities persisted because their early emergence served as a mechanism to coordinate contemporary investments for each subsequent period.  Railroad cities are also wealthier than non-railroad cities of similar sizes today.  This suggests a world where shocks to economic geography can trigger an equilibrium in which cities will emerge to facilitate the accumulation of factors, and thus have long-term effects on economic growth.
    Keywords: Transportation Technology, Development, Path Dependence, growth
    JEL: R4 R1 O1 O3 N97
    Date: 2013–11–18
  10. By: Remi Jedwab; Edward Kerby; Alexander Moradi
    Abstract: Little is known about the extent and forces of urban path dependence in developing countries.  Railroad construction in colonial Kenya provides a natural experiment to study the emergence and persistence of this spatial equilibrium.  Using new data at a fine spatial level over one century shows that colonial railroads causally determined the location of European settlers, which in turn decided the location of the main cities of the country at independence.  Railroads declined and settlers left after independence, yet cities persisted.  Their early emergence served as a mechanism to coordinate investments in the post-independence period, yielding evidence for how path dependence influences development.
    Keywords: Path Dependence, Urbanisation, Transportation, Colonialism
    JEL: R11 R12 R40 O18 N97
    Date: 2014–01–12
  11. By: Andrew Dillon; Jed Friedman; Pieter Serneels
    Abstract: Agricultural and other physically demanding sectors are important sources of growth in developing countries but prevalent diseases such as malaria adversely impact the productivity, labor supply, and occupational choice of workers in these sectors by reducing physical capacity.  This study identifies the impact of malaria on worker earnings, labor supply, and daily productivity by randomizing the temporal order at which piece-rate workers at a large sugarcane plantation in Nigeria are offered malaria testing and treatment.  The results indicate a significant and substantial intent to treat effect of the intervention - the offer of a workplace based malaria testing and treatment program increases worker earnings by approximately 10% over the weeks following the mobile clinic visit.  The study further investigates the effect of health information by contrasting program effects by workers revealed health status.  For workers who test positive for malaria, the treatment of illness increases labor supply, leading to higher earnings.  For workers who test negative, and especially for those workers most likely to be surprised by the healthy diagnosis, the health information also leads to increased earnings via increased productivity.  Possible mechanisms for this response include selection into higher return occupations as a result of changes in the perceived cost of effort.  A model of the worker labor decision that includes health perceptions in the decisions to supply effort suggests that, in endemic settings with poor quality health services, inaccurate health perceptions may lead workers to misallocate labor thus resulting in sub-optimal production and occupational choice.  The results underline the importance of medical treatment but also of access to improved information about one's health status, as the absence of either may lead workers to deliver lower than optimal effort levels in lower return occupations.
    Keywords: malaria, labor supply, labor productivity, randomized experiment
    JEL: I12 J22 J24 O12
    Date: 2014–03–02
  12. By: Augustin Kwasi Fosu
    Abstract: The present study employs recent World Bank data to shed light, in a global context, on the transformation of income and inequality changes to poverty reduction for a large number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).  The study begins by shedding light on SSA's progress on poverty.  Next, it presents data on how various African countries have fared on poverty incidence relative to other countries, with special emphasis on the more recent period since the mid-1990s when SSA has generally experienced growth resurgence.  The paper, then, decomposes performance on poverty into income and inequality changes for a sample of SSA countries with the requisite data.  The findings are that the recent progress on poverty has been considerable, in contrast to the earlier period.  Compared with the progress in a global sample of countries, however, progress has been mixed; although African countries lag behind the BRIC group of countries generally, many of them have actually outperformed India.  While income growth is, furthermore, found to be the main engine for poverty reduction in SSA generally, the role of inequality is crucial in certain countries.  Moreover, viewed in a global context, the low levels of income have retarded the effectiveness of income and inequality improvements in reducing poverty in many African countries.
    Date: 2014–04–23
  13. By: Oriana Bandiera; Robin Burgess; 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 by 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: 2014–10–02

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