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Eight books to read to understand African economies [reading list]

Africa’s GDP growth is projected to accelerate to 4.0% in 2019 and 4.1% in 2020. The economy continues to improve in future. To raise further awareness of the growing importance of the study of African economics, we have created a list of books that explore the varied areas of the continent.

  1. China-Africa and an economic transformation, edited by Arkebe Oqubay and Justin Yifu Lin
    This volume considers China-Africa relations in the context of a global division of labour and power, and through the history and experiences of both China and Africa. It examines the core ideas of structural transformation, productive investment and industrialization, international trade, infrastructure development, and financing. Read a chapter here.
  2. Taken for a ride, by Matteo Rizzo
    The growth of cities and their informal economies are key characteristic of societies in Africa today. This book contributes to our understanding of both, drawing on long-term fieldwork in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and charting its public transport system’s journey from public to private provision. Read a chapter here.
  3. Modernizing VATs in Africa, by Sijbren Cnossen
    Tax revenues in most African countries fall far short of what is necessary to finance basic human and economic development. This book is an indispensable guide to understanding how tax system works in Africa. This highly informative and well-researched book makes the case for modernizing African VAT systems and how and why this can be achieved. Read a chapter here.
  4. The Oxford handbook of the Ethiopian economy, edited by Fantu Cheru, Christopher Cramer, and Arkebe Oqubay
    From a war-torn and famine-plagued country at the beginning of the 1990s, Ethiopia is today emerging as one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa. This book focuses on structural transformation to explain Ethiopia’s unique model of development. Read a chapter here.
  5. Youth and jobs in rural Africa, edited by Valerie Mueller and James Thurlow
    Many people believe that Africa will struggle to create jobs for its rapidly growing population, and that rural youth will eventually migrate to cities or other countries. This book uses survey data to show the constraints and opportunities facing young people in rural Africa. Download the book here upon publication.
  6. The politics of social protection in eastern and southern Africa, edited by Sam Hickey, Tom Lavers, Miguel Niño-Zarazúa, and Jeremy Seekings
    Why have so many countries in Africa adopted social protection programmes, policies that are designed to reduce poverty, over the past decade? This book challenges the common assumption that this phenomenon has been entirely driven by international development agencies, instead focusing on the role of politics in specific African countries. Download the book here.
  7. Agriculture, diversification, and gender in rural Africa, edited by Agnes Andersson Djurfeldt, Fred Mawunyo Dzanku, and Aida Cuthbert Isinika
    This book contributes to the understanding of small farms in sub-Saharan Africa. It explores how small farmers’ livelihoods have changed over time, with a special focus on how changes have affected men and women differently. In general, women have much poorer access to agricultural sources of income. Download the book here.
  8. Ghana’s economic and agricultural transformation, edited by Xinshen Diao, Peter Hazell, Shashidhara Kolavalli, and Danielle Resnick
    This book reveals that despite over 30 years of continuous growth in per capita income and rapid urbanization, Ghana has not industrialized and most of its workers remain trapped in low productivity work in agriculture and services. Using Ghana as a case study, the book explores the challenges and opportunities of Africa’s growth and transformation. Download the book here.

This reading list outlines the various themes of African economics such as trade, agriculture, employment, and finance, which are essential for economic development. With more information on these topics, we can begin to understand the reasons behind economic growth in Africa and the hurdles in development.

Featured image credit: “desk globe on table” by Kyle Glenn via Unsplash.

Recent Comments

  1. Ehi Braimah

    Very interesting and insightful books! How can I get copies? I’m keen to study and explore these themes during my PhD programme … the role of the private sector is crucial to the economic growth of African economies; the role of transformational leadership; creating wealth through investment opportunities driven by young African entrepreneurs and so on.

    For this purpose, I registered AfricaNext some years back with a colleague based in the UK as a not for profit organisation to focus on the issues highlighted above.

    I hope to pursue my PhD programme in a UK university once I can access grants for scholarship targeted at research in these areas. By the way, I completed my MBA at the University of Roehampton, London two years ago.

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