While there has been strong economic growth in many developing countries over the past two decades, not all groups in society have participated in or benefited from this. Transformative growth that creates jobs is needed to build the inclusive societies that can create genuine and lasting progress.
2015 saw the launch of the Supporting Economic Transformation programme which provides practical policy support to country governments and their partners, including donors and the private sector. Researchers worked with the Tanzania Ministry of Finance and Planning to shape its second Five Year Development Plan (2016/17 – 2020/21) on the theme of ‘Nurturing an Industrial Economy’. The work highlighted promising sectors for industrialisation and a new approach to smart implementation of economic strategies.
In December, we held a panel session on trade and economic transformation at the Trade and Development Symposium, alongside the 10th World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, where we made the case for a strong role for trade and competitiveness in economic transformation.
We hosted a workshop in Nairobi alongside Vision 2030, assessing the role of services in economic transformation and job creation in Kenya. Vision 2030 is the national long-term development policy that aims to secure a high quality of life in a clean and secure environment for all Kenyans by 2030.
At the workshop we put forward the case that the services sector can be an important element in an economic transformation strategy, as long as the links between services (such as ICT, transport, finance) and manufacturing and agriculture continue to be strengthened.
In June 2015, we organised a public lecture by Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard University, on the future of economic transformation in developing countries. The meeting discussed the scope and limitations of the manufacturing sector in contributing to future growth and transformation.
Our panel discussion with John Page, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, on reversing Africa’s deindustrialisation in January 2016 was followed by support for the inaugural African Transformation Forum in March, organised by the African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET).
The purpose of the forum was to facilitate knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning between global and African experts from the public and private sectors. We worked with ACET to highlight the need for a coherent strategy for Africa’s industrialisation, the need to implement plans to facilitate trade, and the need for strong public-private dialogue to implement economic strategies. Our work on Africa’s industrialisation received media coverage in Kenya, Nigeria and the UK.
Our Shockwatch bulletin, Sub-Saharan Africa and international equity, in October 2015 found that international private equity could help to accelerate the region’s economic development.
However, capturing its benefits for the poorest people requires new policies from development finance institutions, national governments and bilateral agencies. These include new standards for responsible investment especially in energy, healthcare and education.
International private equity could help to accelerate the region's economic development.
The bulletin was covered by BBC World Business news, the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, as well as broadcasters in Kenya and Nigeria.
The next Shockwatch bulletin, in March 2016, covered The triple transition of a slowing China, lower oil prices and a higher US dollar. The report found that Nigeria, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo were vulnerable to the impact of lower oil prices, a stronger US dollar and a slowing Chinese economy.
ODI presented this work at the G20 leaders meeting in Antalya, Turkey in November 2015 and at the Think-20 (T-20) Summit in Shenzhen, China. Following this, Bloomberg, CNBC Africa, CNBC Arabia and the BBC broadcast special segments on this issue.
Our ‘ODI in conversation with …’ series featured conversations with Joseph Stiglitz, former World Bank Chief Economist and Nobel Prize winner, in July on the role of finance in development, and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Nigerian Finance Minister, on economic growth in Africa in October.