nep-afr New Economics Papers
on Africa
Issue of 2019‒01‒07
six papers chosen by
Sam Sarpong
The University of Mines and Technology

  1. Africa’s New Social Movements: A Continental Approach By Hisham Aidi
  2. Assessing the EU-North Africa trade agreements By Uri Dadush; Yana Myachenkova
  3. The Dilemma of the African Development Bank: Does Governance Matter for the Long-Run Financing of the MDBs? By Nancy Birdsall
  4. Nigerian economy: business, governance and investment in period of crisis By Ibrahim Abdullahi, Shafiu
  5. The Economics of Fertilizer Subsidies By Holden, Stein T.
  6. Women's Empowerment in Action: Evidence from a Randomized Control Trial in Africa By Bandiera, Oriana; Buehren, Niklas; Burgess, Robin; Goldstein, Markus P; Gulesci, Selim; Rasul, Imran; Sulaiman, Munshi

  1. By: Hisham Aidi
    Abstract: Scholars of social movements and global protest have long neglected social movements in Africa, ostensibly because African societies are too rural, too tradition- or ethnicity-bound, or lacking advanced class formations. Those who have broached the topic tend to focus on South Africa’s labor movement and anti-apartheid struggle. Even less addressed is how social movements in various parts of the continent have affected each other. A continent-wide approach however shows that protests in sub-Saharan Africa preceded the North African uprisings, by almost a decade. These protests had similar objectives and faced comparable obstacles, yet much of the scholarship on the “Arab Spring” has ignored the sub-Saharan connections and precedents. How did these movements build on earlier waves of political agitation? How do these “protest coalitions” combine political and economic motivations?
    Date: 2018–11
  2. By: Uri Dadush; Yana Myachenkova
    Abstract: The trade agreements that the European Union has with North African countries – with Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia – are often seen as having delivered disappointing results since they came into force during the 2000s. The four North African countries have seen insufficient growth in their exports to the EU, and have undergone only limited diversification. In the meantime, the EU’s exports to North Africa have grown quite rapidly. Economic growth in North Africa has been well short of what is needed to reduce chronic under-employment, especially of young people. The EU trade agreements with North Africa could generate additional, large benefits if they either directly led to or at least incentivised behind-the-border reforms to make the North African countries more competitive in international markets. Though this reform is the responsibility of the governments of North African countries, the EU could provide stronger incentives to improve the business environment. Meanwhile, in agriculture, were the North African countries able to compete with the EU on an even playing field, agriculture’s share of domestic value-added would almost certainly be significantly larger and rural poverty correspondingly lower than at present. Nevertheless, the agreements have been judged too harshly. They helped generate large amounts of trade, though not enough was done on the domestic front to derive the maximum benefit from them. Moreover, the domestic and international environment has been unfavourable, impeding North Africa’s progress. Over much of the relevant period, the EU grew sluggishly, and North African countries faced sharply increasing competition on European markets from China and the eastern Europe countries that joined the EU in 2004 and after. Generally, countries that acceded to the EU have done much better than the countries of North Africa. While the countries of North Africa are not EU candidates, there is much that they and the EU can learn from the example of the former accession countries in terms of how a new generation of trade agreements between the EU and North Africa could be deeper and more comprehensive than currently, and could be accompanied by increased aid for trade.
    Date: 2018–11
  3. By: Nancy Birdsall (Center for Global Development)
    Abstract: In this paper, I explore the question in the subtitle: Does governance matter for the long-run financing and effectiveness the multilateral development banks? Does the system of weighted voting that is peculiar to them (compared to the United Nations and other international institutions), and favors the high-income countries that are the banks’ main financiers, matter for their long-run access to financing and their effectiveness as development institutions? Does the voting structure, as well as other aspects of governance, involve some tradeoff between the confidence of creditor countries in the different MDBs, and the sense of ownership, legitimacy, and trust of borrowers? Is that tradeoff reflected in differences in the banks’ relative success in raising capital and contributions to sustain their operations, and with what implications for the different banks’ development effectiveness in borrowing countries? There is no way to definitively answer those questions. But among the five “legacy” MDBs founded in the 20th century, the African Development Bank stands out as the one where the governance arrangements most favor its regional borrowers. The dilemma of the African Bank is that its governance arrangements may be making it relatively less competitive than its sister banks in sustaining creditor (or “donor”) confidence over the long run, and thus in raising new capital and periodic contributions to allow for grants and cheap credits to the poorest countries in the region. Lack of competitiveness in raising financing a dilemma both for its borrowers and its high-income creditor shareholders, given their shared goal of optimal use of all available resources in promoting higher and more inclusive and sustained growth in Africa.
    Date: 2018–11–29
  4. By: Ibrahim Abdullahi, Shafiu
    Abstract: Nigerian economy is very sensitive to happenings in the global crude oil market due to Nigeria dependence on the black gold. The recession Nigeria found herself in 2016 was mainly caused by the fall in the international price of crude oil. It is the same factor that also help to explain Buhari government massive borrowings to help close the gap in government budget since coming to power in 2015. In the years since independence, Nigerian economy has changed from its largely agrarian state of 1960s to an import depended mono-economy. Nigeria single most important export for more than forty years has remain crude oil. But, in the period since independence various economic models have been tested, as many as there were changes in governments. While the adaptation of some of these economic programs were domestically inspired, others were forced on Nigeria from the outside. The book provides a comprehensive account of Nigerian economy, taking into consideration the changes that have taken place in the last one decade.
    Keywords: Nigeria, Economy, Business, Investment, Politics, regional security, Boko Haram, Media, Gender, Islamic finance, Global trade
    JEL: A1 A2 F1 G0 H5 M2 M3 O1 O3 Q5
    Date: 2018–10–23
  5. By: Holden, Stein T. (Centre for Land Tenure Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
    Abstract: Fertilizer and other input subsidies have been a prominent component of agricultural policies in many Asian and African countries since the 1960s. Their economic and political rationale is scrutinized with emphasis on the second generation of targeted input subsidy programs that were scaled up in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) after 2005. The extent to which they full-fill the goal of being ‘market smart’ is assessed after inspecting the potential for such subsidies in SSA. The new fertilizer subsidy programs do not live up the market smart principles and suffer from severe design and implementation failures. While a clear exit strategy was one of the key principles, this principle has been neglected with the result that most current programs are more ‘sticky’ than ‘smart’. They have only partially achieved the intended impacts and have resulted in a number of unintended negative impacts. Redesign should start from a pilot stage testing basic mechanisms.
    Keywords: Fertilizer subsidy; externality; market failure; market smart; impact; elite capture
    JEL: Q12 Q18 Q28
    Date: 2018–09–14
  6. By: Bandiera, Oriana; Buehren, Niklas; Burgess, Robin; Goldstein, Markus P; Gulesci, Selim; Rasul, Imran; Sulaiman, Munshi
    Abstract: Women in developing countries are disempowered: high youth unemployment, early marriage and childbearing interact to limit their investments into human capital and enforce dependence on men. We evaluate a multifaceted policy intervention attempting to jump-start adolescent women's empowerment in Uganda, a context in which 60% of the population are aged below twenty. The intervention aims to relax human capital constraints that adolescent girls face by simultaneously providing them vocational training and information on sex, reproduction and marriage. We find that four years post-intervention, adolescent girls in treated communities are 4.9pp more likely to engage in income generating activities, corresponding to a 48% increase over baseline levels, and an impact almost entirely driven by their greater engagement in self-employment. Teen pregnancy falls by a third, and early entry into marriage/cohabitation also falls rapidly. Strikingly, the share of girls reporting sex against their will drops by close to a third and aspired ages at which to marry and start childbearing move forward. The results highlight the potential of a multifaceted program that provides skills transfers as a viable and cost effective policy intervention to improve the economic and social empowerment of adolescent girls over a four year horizon.
    JEL: I25 J13 J24
    Date: 2018–12

This nep-afr issue is ©2019 by Sam Sarpong. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
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.