Prof Benno Ndulu, Prof Stefan Dercon & Prof Ricardo Soares de Oliveira in conversation: “COVID-19 in Africa: crisis and opportunity?”

Past Event

17 September 2020, 1:00pm - 2:00pm


Event Recording:

Lack of systemic resilience to shocks has exposed Africa’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Years of underinvestment has left the health system incapable of handling needed testing, emergencies and care. Also a significant proportion (45%) of the region’s population live a hand-to-mouth existence (IGC 2020) which means there is a lack of personal cautionary savings; functional credit system; curtailed household survival during containment based on social distancing; and a lack of fiscal space and mature financial markets constrained resource mobilisation to fund required interventions and safety nets.

While there is some significant diversity in the type and magnitude of responses to the pandemic across African countries, overall the region has had a much more muted economic response (stimulus about 3% of GDP) compared to double digit responses in OECD and some key emerging economies. IMF projects a much slower recovery for the region relative to the world even when the region’s growth collapse in 2020 is much smaller.

The responses to the pandemic were made against the background of (i) high levels of indebtedness, which closed doors of access to capital market; (ii) a reverse flow of private capital; (iii) collapse of remittances) and (iv) tight aid resource envelopes allowing only for reprogramming rather than addition of resources.

Join Professor Benno Ndulu, former Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania and Professor Stefan Dercon, Lead Reseacher on the Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance, chaired by Professor Ricardo Soares de Oliveira, Lead Reseacher on the Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance, where they will discuss the problems and the role that digital technology can play in coping mechanisms during crises, the rationale for acceleration and broadening of digitalisation of entire economies – with inclusion as its pivotal target.

Benno Ndulu

Professor Benno Ndulu
former Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania

Professor Benno Ndulu is a Senior Advisor at Digital Pathways and Visiting Professor at the Blavatnik School of Government. He was the Governor of the Central Bank of Tanzania from 2008 to 2018. He started his career at the University of Dar es Salaam in the early 1980s before joining the World Bank as a Lead Economist.

He is best known for his involvement in setting up and developing one of the most effective research and training networks in Africa, the African Economic Research Consortium. He received an honorary doctorate from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague in 1997 recognition of his contributions to Capacity Building and Research on Africa. Following his PhD degree in economics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, he taught economics and published widely on growth, adjustment, governance and trade.

Stefan Dercon

Professor Stefan Dercon
Lead Reseacher, Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance

Stefan Dercon is Professor of Economic Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government and the Economics Department, and a Fellow of Jesus College. He is also Director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE).

Between 2011 and 2017, he was Chief Economist of the Department of International Development (DFID), the UK government department responsible for aid policy and spending.

His research interests concern what keeps people and countries poor: the failures of markets, governments and politics, mainly in Africa, and how to change this. Current work focuses on the psychological challenges of poverty, the political economy of development, the challenges of industrialisation in Africa, and how to prepare for and finance responses to natural disasters and protracted humanitarian crises. He is also closely involved in policy work on the big challenges in development in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Ricardo Soares De Oliveira

Professor Ricardo Soares de Oliveira
Lead Reseacher, Oxford Martin Programme on African Governance

Ricardo Soares de Oliveira is Professor of the International Politics of Africa at the Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford, Official Fellow of St Peter's College, and a Fellow with the Global Public Policy Institute, Berlin.

His research interests include African politics (particularly West and Central Africa), the geopolitics of energy and international political economy, especially in the fields of natural resource extraction, state decay and post-conflict reconstruction.

He is the author of Oil and Politics in the Gulf of Guinea (2007), co-editor of China Returns to Africa: A Rising Power and a Continent Embrace (with Chris Alden and Daniel Large, 2008) and The New Protectorates: International Tutelage and the Making of Liberal States (with James Mayall, 2011). His latest book is Magnificent and Beggar Land: Angola Since the Civil War (2015). Soares de Oliveira has worked in the field of governance and the extractive industries for the World Bank, the European Commission, Catholic Relief Services, the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), Oxfam, and the French Ministry of Defence, among others.