Paths towards sustained development in the global south: Historical lessons

Session organizer/s: Erik Green and Ellen Hillbom

Cristián Ducoing

Session: 1

Authors: Cristián Ducoing

Co-authors: Fredrik NG Andersson, Ellen Hillbom and Sara Torregrosa

Abstract: This article studies the economic and social consequences of a future fossil commodity collapse, defined as a sharp decline in the value of a fossil fuels on developing economies. We approach the issue from a historical perspective, by analysing how commodity collapses in the past impacted the short- and long-run economic and social development of the main producing countries. Some countries will be more affected by the transition to a fossil-free economy than others. Economies where oil, gas and coal represent a significant share of economic activity will be severely affected – among these are several developing countries and middle-income countries such as Venezuela and Nigeria. A disorderly climate transition might lead to a sudden commodity collapse. We will identify historical episodes of commodity collapse. These episodes will then form the basis for our analysis. What constitutes a substantial loss, and during which time frame such a loss shall occur will be calibrated to the historical cases already identified in the literature to find additional cases.

Shine a light: Community Effects of Distributed Energy Systems in East Africa since the 1990s

Session: 1

Authors: Jakob Hannerz

Co-authors: Jutta Bolt

Abstract: Access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy remains a critical issue in Africa, where 43% of the continent’s population, or more than half a billion people lack access to electricity, with the majority living in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite being home to nearly 18% of the world’s population, Africa accounts for less than 6% of global energy use (IEA, 2022). The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals aim for universal access to energy for all. However, insufficient national energy supply in countries often results in remote communities being overlooked due to their distant settlement, low electricity demand, and poor payment capabilities. Using panel data on rural communities and households electrified by distributed off-grid energy solutions, we study the effects of Kenya’s and Tanzania’s rural electrification expansion since the 1990s. Both countries are at the forefront of off-grid electrification initiatives, but they differ in terms of government electrification strategies, with Kenya allowing some private participation in the form of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), while Tanzania maintains more state control with limited private participation. Using data on rural off-grid electricity projects, together with regional Demographic and Heath Survey (DHS) data, and night-time lights, we are assessing the communal benefits of electrification, beyond household connectivity, using a difference-in-difference (DiD) approach. Moreover, by looking at the East African cases of Kenya and Tanzania, we are further able to investigate whether there are differences in communal- and household benefits of electrification depending on the public or private-oriented electrification strategy. By looking at community benefits, beyond household connectivity, we hope to contribute to how energy access could be defined, and by looking at public- and private participation, we hope to discover what the impact of the different strategies is towards the end consumer.

What explains technological adaptation in Africa? A comparative study of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

Session: 1

Authors: Bertus Markus Melles

Co-authors: Prince Young Aboagye

Abstract: It is widely acknowledged that for countries to catchup in productivity, they need to go through a process of technological upgrading. Although few African countries have caught up with the developed countries, one cannot deny that many African countries went through a process of technological adaptation over the past century. Under different technological paradigms, countries responded to the diffusion of technological revolutions, unfolding over the twentieth and twenty first centuries. However, since most African countries have not yet made the step to developed status, the process technological adaptation is left relatively unexplored. What explains the types and process of technological adaption over the long run in Africa? This paper attempts to contribute to this question by exploring the change of productive structures of Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire over the past century. The study aims to identify the similarities and differences in the types and processes of technological adaptation in these countries. Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire make an excellent comparative study for several reasons. Both countries are located in West Africa and share similar factor endowments and socio-economic characteristics, including similar levels of GDP per Capita, a history of colonialism and a history of dependence on cash crops. Secondly, both countries have experienced significant structural changes in their productive structure over the past century, yet there are important differences between the two countries as to which industries have been appropriated. By analyzing evolution of this process, this paper seeks to explain the factors that have shaped the diffusion and adaptation and the failure of adaptation of technological paradigms in Africa. To achieve this objective, the paper employs the concepts of social capabilities, technological congruency, and path dependence. We preliminarily find that successful technological upgrading has usually been a gradual one, in line with the country’s already existing productive capabilities. Leapfrogging technologies hasn’t had an enduring effect on the productive structure of the two countries. The type of successful technological adaptation seems to have been explained by factors common to the two countries, whilst differences in social capabilities between the two countries seem to explain the extent of technological adaptation. Some of these differences are rooted in long run historical factors that gave Ghana a head start in a cumulative process of structural transformation, whilst others are the consequences of paradigm shifts in government policies.

Elite coalitions and industrialization in Africa

Session: 2

Authors: Erik Green

Co-authors: Victor Gwande, Rory Pilossof, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani

Abstract: In recent years we have witnessed a renewed interest in analysing the need and capacity for Africa to industrialise (Aryeetey and Moyo 2012, de Vries 2013, McMillan and Harttgren 2014, Rodrik 2014, Carmignania and Thomas Mandeville 2014, Cadot et al. 2016, Signé 2018). Much of this work points to the modest growth of modern manufacturing in Africa during the twentieth century and offers new formulations for manufacturing to develop on the continent. To explain past failures of industrialization in Africa, economists have mainly focused on inefficient economic policies in the post-colonial period. Recent work in economic history focuses more on structural impediments, most notable low population densities that push wages upwards and at the same time limits domestic demand for locally produced manufacturing goods (Austin, Frankema and Jerven 2015, Austin 2016, Frankema and Waijenburg 2018).

This paper contributes to the debate by shifting focus from outcomes to intentions and attempts to industrialise in 20th century Africa. Without dismissing the role of economic policies or structural impediments what is exceptional with Africa is the few attempts made to promote manufacturing growth. Through a comparative historical analysis we argue that efforts to industrialise was depending on how well it aligned with the economic interests of national and transnational elite. Without support from these two groups the African colonial and post-colonial states lacked the capacity to formulate long-term industrial policies, which in part also explain the meagre performance of manufacturing sector.

Growth and differentiation in Kenya’s public sector, ca. 1920s to 1960s

Session: 2

Authors: Valeria Lukkari

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: The gradual construction of extensive bureaucracies in sub-Saharan African countries since the colonial era has been noteworthy and has been deemed problematic in many ways. The state in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa has functioned as the largest employer of the wage-earning population, and the expansion of the public sector has been particularly remarkable since independence. This type of development has an important drawback. Previous research suggests that as the state promoted the creation of a complex bureaucracy, it discouraged the development of private indigenous enterprise.

In Kenya, the public sector constituted 46% of all wage employment outside agriculture in the year 1966, while private sector employment stagnated from the 1960s to the 1970s (Vinnai, 1974). Kenya as a case study is of particular interest due to the relatively large settler population and the comparatively extensive administrative apparatus as well as the consecutive Africanization of this sector. The majority of the Kenyan post-independence elites could, indeed, be found in state employment (Simson, 2017). Tracing down the historical development and growth of the public sector in relation to the private sector is, thus, the main objective of this study with the additional aim of providing a more dynamic picture of the public sector actors.

The public-private differentials are taken as a departure point into a more thorough exploration of the public sector. The dynamics between the private and public sectors in colonial times are only narrowly explored, although the disparities in employment and remuneration between the two have been previously noted (Collier & Lal, 1986; Bigsten, 1987; Kilson, 1970). Going from a situation at the beginning of the colonial period in Kenya when the public sector would tend not to compete with the private sector in order to keep wages down (van Zwanenberg, 1975), to the public sector employing most of the educated and highly paid workers in the late 1960s, testifies to a shift in the dynamics. Thus, analysing the dynamics between the two sectors is important for understanding the development of the economy and the opportunities provided for African labour in the formal wage sector of Kenya.

This study finds considerable disparities between public and private sector employment and remuneration, which over time, however, seem to diminish. Additionally, differentiation within the public sector is detected. The paper contributes to the understanding of historical public-private differentials in Kenya as well as to the comprehension of the growing importance of the public sector.

Shrinking and financial development in Kenya and Tanzania, 1960-2020

Session: 2

Authors: Sascha Klocke

Co-authors: Tobias Axelsson

Abstract: The failure of many countries in the Global South to catch up economically to the advanced economies of the Global North has long been a topic of interest to economic historians and development economists. Traditionally, researchers focused their attention on the question of growth –how can a country achieve growth to catch up? In recent years, however, a new research programme has begun to shift attention away from the question of economic growth to the question of how to avoid economic shrinking. This new strand of research shows that countries that have caught up did not experience significantly higher average growth rates in comparison to laggard countries. Instead, what sets them apart is their resilience to economic shrinking, i.e., that they have experienced fewer and less severe episodes in which annual GDP per capita growth was negative (Andersson 2018; Broadberry & Wallis 2016). A crucial factor identified as a determinant of increased resilience to economic shrinking has been identified as the set of social capabilities a country possesses, specifically transformation, inclusion, autonomy, and accountability (Andersson & Palacio 2017). It has also been hypothesised that the financial and monetary system play a key role in determining a country’s resilience to shrinking. This paper sets out to investigate the relationship between financial and monetary sector development in Kenya and Tanzania and their resilience to shrinking, focusing specifically on the aspects of central bank autonomy and accountability, which are important determinants of central bank performance (Lybek 2008). We find that, between 1960 and 2020, both Kenya and Tanzania experienced frequent shrinking episodes – on average once every four years in Kenya and once every 3.5 years in Tanzania, which significantly impacted their overall growth trajectory. These episodes were not distributed evenly over the sixty-year period, however, with Kenya experiencing shorter episodes of shrinking spaced out over the entire period, while Tanzania saw its shrinking episodes concentrated in the period of 1973-1994. This led to Tanzania falling behind Kenya from the 1970s onwards but catching up and converging since the mid-1990s. We also find a clear link between monetary sector reforms and central bank autonomy and accountability and the shrinking pattern in the two countries. The Kenyan central bank has had only limited autonomy since its inception and been held accountable primarily to the wishes of the Kenyan president instead of the overall country or national economy, as indicated by frequent and politically motivated changes in central bank governorship. In Tanzania, the central bank’s autonomy was initially likewise limited and the Tanzanian government tried to use the central bank as an active agent in the country’s development, resulting in the prolonged period of shrinking beginning in 1973. However, the second Bank of Tanzania Act of 1996 led to significant changes in the relationship between central bank and government, increasing the central bank autonomy, shifting accountability towards the general economy, and contributing to the absence of shrinking since.

Challenges in sustaining and socially upgrading the Mauritian garment industry: The interplay of industrial policy with firm and labour responses

Session: 3

Authors: Linn Ternsjö

Co-authors: NA

Abstract: Developmental states have historically played an important role in achieving industrialization that brings about better economic conditions at the national level. On the other hand, the labour and production process rely on unequal power relations between firms along the value chain, within the workplace, as well as between workers and the state. Focusing specifically on the textile and garment industry in Mauritius, this paper examines how state policies have played out and what the local implications have been for workers at the lower end of the chain. The overarching research question asks whether, and in what ways, the state’s interactions with firms and labour organizations and workers have created opportunities or constrained the development of an industry that is driven by social upgrading in Mauritius.

The paper first examines how and in what ways social upgrading, defined as an improvement in workers’ rights and conditions, has been considered in Mauritius’ state policy in the post-independence period up to present-day. Moreover, how have policies and firms responded to workers’ concerns and actions? The paper explores capital-labour relations, and specifically worker power, via interviews with senior policy makers, industrialists, labour union representatives and workers in and around the garment industry.

Findings suggest that despite development of vertical integration and majority locally owned factories together with the implementation of a minimum wage and a discourse of inclusion and fairness, the Mauritian garment industry is struggling to renew itself and remains based on actor relationships that fosters marginalization and exploitation of labour. Labour is highly segmented in the industry along lines of gender, nationality, and migration status. Those firms that have survived the competitive landscape and expanded, have shifted toward more capital-intensive production. At the same time they have closely collaborated with the state in order to find new ways of accessing cheap labour. This has taken the form of employing disposable, migrant workers, predominantly men coming from Bangladesh, who since the 2000s have started making up increasingly large shares of the labour force on Mauritian factory floors. In parallel, the working conditions, including mandatory overtime in combination with lived experiences of sudden factory closures and relocation of the most labour-intensive garment manufacturing to Madagascar, as well as the emergence of employment alternatives in other economic sectors, make up some of the overlooked reasons for Mauritian labour shortages. In turn, these are shaped by historically contingent state-labour relations as well as interlinked spheres of capitalist production and social reproduction. At the same time, there appears to be evidence of worker power that has influenced the ways in which the Mauritian garment industry operates and which has translated into more developmentalist outcomes for all.

David and Goliath? Botswanan elites and negotiated settlements, 1895-1975

Session: 3

Authors: Jorich Johann Loubser

Co-authors: Tomás Medina Mora Perez

Abstract: Post-colonial Botswana’s rapid diamond-led economic growth (Hillbom & Bolt, 2018) has seen it catch-up and pull ahead of its Southern African neighbours, whose productive capacity was significantly higher halfway through the twentieth century. Similarly, before gaining independence in 1966 it also occupied a unique political space as a British protectorate in a region characterised by settler colonialism. The literature has argued that Southern Africa’s historically higher levels of economic development relative to the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa is tied to its unique form of colonialism. However, as an outlier in terms of colonial relations, Botswana’s economic history cannot be understood in the same manner. Thus, this paper studies the historical role of Botswanan political elites in determining the form of their integration into the British colonial system and subsequent post-colonial interactions with transnational mining capital.

To this end, the paper analyses two separate but interconnected historical junctures, and the politics that surrounds them. The first relates to the visit of three Batswana chiefs (Chiefs Khama, Bathoen and Sebele) to Britain in 1895 to lobby the state for protectorate status in response to an ever-encroaching British South Africa Company. Despite contemporary critics (eg. Morton & Ramsay, 2017) they, supported by missionaries and British teetotallers, won important concessions from the colonial state that were crucial to the form Bechuanaland’s colonial integration.

The second relates to negotiations between the De Beers diamond company and the new post-colonial Botswanan government in the 1970s. As I have argued previously (Loubser, 2021), scholars have overlooked the politics that underpin the very aggressive negotiations between the Botswanan and De Beers. The local economy’s sharing in Botswana’s booming diamond mines was not inevitable, but won through hard-fought negotiations. To analyse these two junctures the paper draws on archival sources based at the Kew National archives and British Library. The scope of analysis surrounds British colonial relations in the 1890s, De Beers’ prospects in the 1970s and Botswanan political elites’ constraints and actions in both periods.

A vast body of literature shows that the form and nature of colonial rule must be taken into account when studying African developmental outcomes (Acemoglu et al., 2001, 2002; Acemoglu & Robinson, 2010; Cooper, 2002; Rodney, 1982). Scholars have differentiated between ‘labour reserve’, ‘cash crop’ and colonies of ‘the concession-owning companies’ to explain geographic variation (Amin, 1972). Austin (2010) identified the divergent development legacies of ‘settler’ and ‘peasant’ economies. In Southern Africa’s ‘settler economies’, settler groups suppressed and exploited black Africans in support of white agriculture, mining and manufacturing. However, while much of the literature often categorises Botswana as similar to its neighbours (eg. Mkandawire, 2010) – ‘settler economies’ – it sits awkwardly within this classification. This paper seeks to identify the ways in which Botswanan political elites have conditioned their country’s historical transformations by challenging ideas which have seen it as an extension of well-developed analytical frameworks imported from other Southern African countries.

Reference List Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S., & Robinson, J. A. (2001). The colonial origins of comparative development: An empirical investigation. American Economic Review, 91(5), 1369–1401. Acemoglu, D., Johnson, S., & Robinson, J. A. (2002). Reversal of fortune: Geography and institutions in the making of the modern world income distribution. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 117(4), 1231–1294. Acemoglu, D., & Robinson, J. A. (2010). Why is Africa poor? Economic History of Developing Regions, 25(1), 21–50. Amin, S. (1972). Underdevelopment and Dependence in Black Africa-Origins and Contemporary Forms. The Journal of Modern African Studies, 10(4), 503–524. Austin, G. (2010). African economic development and colonial legacies (Working paper No. 1). Institut de hautes études internationales et du développement. Cooper, F. (2002). Africa since 1940: the past of the present (Vol. 1). Cambridge University Press. Hillbom, E., & Bolt, J. (2018). Botswana–A Modern Economic History: An African Diamond in the Rough. Springer. Loubser, J. J. (2021). The Relationship Between Southern African States and Mining Transnational Corporations in the 21st Century: Constancies and Reconfigurations in Relation to Domestic and Global Processes [MSc]. University of Oxford. Mkandawire, T. (2010). On tax efforts and colonial heritage in Africa. The Journal of Development Studies, 46(10), 1647–1669. Morton, B., & Ramsay, J. (2017). The Invention and Perpetuation of Botswana’s National Mythology, 1885-1966. Department of History Seminar, University of Botswana, November, 7. Rodney, W. (1982). How Europe underdeveloped Africa (Rev. ed.). Howard University Press.

Lessons from successful disease prevention campaigns in former British Africa: The Nigerian experience with Yaws

Session: 3

Authors: Jeanne Cilliers

Co-authors: Jutta Bolt

Abstract: Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are just one of several categories of diseases that have been linked to slow economic development. This group of parasitic and bacterial diseases affects around 1.65 billion people worldwide and are mostly found in low-income communities, particularly in rural areas and urban slums with limited access to clean water and poor housing conditions (WHO, 2023). Yaws is a NTD that, due to lack of attention and funding, still affects people in this 21st century. One of the earliest demonstrations of the potential of mass antibiotic treatment in controlling and eliminating NTDs in Africa was the Nigerian anti-Yaws campaign. The British colonial government, in collaboration with local health officials and traditional healers in Nigeria recognized Yaws as a significant public health problem and initiated a mass treatment program in the 1940s and 1950s using penicillin to control the disease. It is thought to have been one of the most successful mass treatment campaigns of the disease and became a model for similar campaigns that were carried out in other countries (WHO, 1988). In West Africa mobile medical units had long been used to reach sparsely populated areas evolving from, or in close association with trypanosomiasis organizations (McLetchie, 1954). From 1947, medical field units in Nigeria conducted surveys to determine the occurrence of Yaws and other endemic diseases in various remote locations. These medical field units conducted extensive research prior to the launch of the yaws campaign, which facilitated a smooth transition from the planning phase to the full-scale campaign (Zahra, 1956). As such, these units appear to have been instrumental in the rapid control and treatment of the disease (McLetchie, 1954). By the mid-1960s, Yaws was declared eradicated in Nigeria but less than a decade later West Africa saw a resurgence of the disease following a policy shift which incorporated Yaws surveillance and control into primary healthcare (Asiedu et al, 2008). This paper aims to chart the historical prevalence of Yaws in Nigeria and how it responded to mass treatment campaigns. Using Annual Medical Reports for Nigeria (1900-1960), we investigate the contribution of mobile medical services to the success of the Yaws eradication campaign in Nigeria and ask what lessons from this experience can be applied to the challenge of providing healthcare services that reach the remote rural communities where NTDs remain.