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Changing economic balances in Africa: Implications for competitive and comparative advantages, integration and geo-politics

Project Leader: Mcebisi Ndletyana

Project Coordinator: David Maimela

Changing economic balances in Africa: Implications for competitive and comparative advantages, integration and geo-politics

Over the past 20 years, Africa has experienced a revival in growth and development. While the sub-Saharan economy grew by 3% per annum before the 2000s, real GDP growth averaged 5% per annum between 2001 and 2006. Accompanying this has been positive macro-social indicators such as poverty-reduction, improved school enrolment and lower child and maternal mortality.
Many African countries such as Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria are experiencing high rates of growth, though from a low base. As this happens, the economic balances on the continent will shift, with new powers emerging in the various regions. For instance, while it was estimated that Nigeria would overtake SA in the 2020s as the largest economy on the continent, the rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP may bring this closer to the latter part of this decade. If it is able to resolve current internal political conflict, Egypt may follow suit a few years thereafter.
Combined, these developments should benefit the continent as a whole. However, it will be critical for the entire African continent – and more particularly, ‘the locomotives’ in the various regions – to work in tandem in pursuit of the collective interest of Africa’s peoples. Ill-conceived rivalries can only have the effect of undermining Africa’s collective development and its strategic relations with the rest of the globe.
The primary objective of this study is two-fold:
Firstly, to develop insight and a framework on how to create conditions that nurture a conscientious leadership in the continent. Leadership here is defined broadly to include individual leaders, institutions, business and civil society.
Secondly, to devise ways that enhance co-operation, to give meaning to the idea that “we’re our brothers’ keepers”.   
This study focuses on the correlation amongst Africa’s leadership, economic growth and political stability. The focus of the research will be on the following issues:
 •    Growth trends and projections; identification of economic locomotives and strategic players in the various regions; and strategies of the political, business, and civil society leadership
 •    Integration and trade: the improvements, setbacks and constraints over the past decade-and-half
 •    A broad analysis of the comparative and competitive advantages in the various regions and countries and how these can be utilised for mutual benefit
 •  Recent experiences in the relationship among the major strategic players within and across region, with the relationship between South Africa on the one hand and Nigeria, Angola, Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal, Ghana and Rwanda on the other as case studies
 •    Africa’s international relations and how these are impacted by the dynamics of unity and divergence among African countries in general and strategic locomotives (e.g. South Africa and Nigeria) in particular
 •    An assessment of NEPAD and mega-projects that lend themselves to greater co-operation, e.g. the Congo Grand Inga Project
 •   Role of the African Union and the centripetal and centrifugal tendencies that play themselves out in its operations and in the conduct of the various major players
 •  Institutionalisation of the grand ideas – mechanisms to ensure less reliance on a single sector of society and on individual leaders
 •    The centrality of democracy and citizen activism.
  •  •     Dr Mcebisi Ndletyana, Project Leader & Head: Faculty of Political Economy (MISTRA)
 •    David Maimela, Researcher & Project Coordinator (MISTRA)
 •     Prof Melvin Ayogu, Economics Professor and Researcher (Independent)
 •     Dr Oscar van Heerden, IR Specialist, academic & researcher (Independent)
 •     Dr Brendan Vickers, Chief Director: Research and Policy (The DTI)
 •     Dr Mzukisi Qobo, Lecturer & Researcher (University of Pretoria)
 •     Dr Sehlare Makgetlaneng, Chief Research Specialist and Head, Governance and Security Programme (AISA)
 •     Dr Eddie Maloka, Special Advisor to the Minister (DIRCO)
 •     Mr Aziz Pahad, Former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs South Africa
 •     Ms Yazini April, Research Specialist: Democracy and Governance (AISA)
 •     Ms Xolelwa Mlumbi, Chief Director: Africa Multilateral Economic Relations (The DTI)
 •     Ms Lerato Mataboge, Chief Director: Africa Bilateral Economic Relations (The DTI)





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