FSP Researchers Lead Special JDS Issue

By Thomas Jayne

Journal of Development Studies cover

FSP C4a (Upstream Global Research Policy) leader Thomas Jayne1 with Jordan Chamberlin2 and Rui Benfica3 are guest editors of the special issue of the Journal of Development Studies on Economic Transformation in Africa (March 2018).

With over 30 years of experience studying sub-Saharan Africa agricultural and resource economics, Jayne and collaborators come together in this special issue of the renowned Journal of Development Studies to provide fresh analysis on Africa’s Unfolding Economic Transformation. Jayne explains that “despite the continued deep challenges that the region is facing, mounting evidence points to profound economic transformation in sub-Saharan Africa since the early 2000s.”

The contributions (Africa’s Evolving Employment Trends, The Quiet Rise of Large-Scale Traders in East and Southern Africa, Africa’s Unfolding Economic Transformation) in this special issue highlight three aspects of Africa’s unfolding economic transformation since 2000: remarkable progress for the region as a whole, highly uneven progress across countries, and unresolved questions about the sustainability of the transformations. The drivers of the region’s economic transformations are diverse, and include improved governance, strong agricultural growth in some countries, employment expansion in informal rural off-farm activities, strong local and foreign investment, a period of high global commodity prices, and policy reforms undertaken in earlier decades. Another contribution in the special issue is led by AFRE Assistant Professor Felix Kwame Yeboah, which examines the options available to African governments for addressing the region’s employment challenges for young Africans 15-35 years of age, who constitute roughly 55 percent of the region’s labor force. The Yeboah and Jayne article  highlights the importance of inclusive agricultural growth as the foundation of a comprehensive youth employment strategy.

A major conclusion of the article by Jayne and colleagues is that “agricultural growth, by expanding job opportunities in the non-farm sectors through multiplier effects, is likely to remain an important driver of continued transformation, though it will increasingly need to rely on productivity growth rather than area expansion.”

Most of the research presented in this report was supported by the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy.

This special issue includes the following articles:

1 Thomas Jayne is University Foundation Professor, Michigan State University, AFRE Department
2 International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
3 International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Rome, Italy