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Economy, Geography and Society in Africa


Admission requirements

The course is elective for students in MA African Studies and ResMA African Studies students and open to others after consultations with the instructors.


‘Emerging Africa’, ‘Africa Rising’ and other optimistic catchwords such as Inclusive Development have changed the image of the continent from a ‘hopeless’ case to a place of opportunities. And indeed, since 2000 Africa’s economic growth has been remarkably high and part of that is linked to the rising demand for Africa’s resources by world economies. Despite impressive GDP growth in many African countries, rising levels of poverty and inequality have been recorded in some national jurisdictions in the past decade. Negative balance of trade with the EU (from 2014 till date), contemporary movements in world commodity and raw material prices, and the Covid-19 pandemic appear to have unexpected influences on balance of trade. All these, acting together may signpost temporary blips in economic trajectory of Emerging Africa or impending economic downturn. It also calls to question the depth of GDP growth, and its implications for inclusive development. Of special consideration are conditions of productive employment, financial inclusion and social protection. Many observers are concerned about issues of environmental sustainability, as well as food and water security. In addition, places of insecurity and fragility appear to juxtapose areas of democratic and economic stability. In the EGSA course, sessions are designed to give insights into these paradoxes and gain insights on ways that intended developments may be financed.

In this course, students will do the following things:

  1. They study and discuss scientific literature about economy, geography and society in Africa focusing on inclusive development in six scientific sessions, led by Dr Akinyoade; some of the literature will also be studied to find out what research design the authors used and what the methods of enquiry and methods of presentation have been.

  2. They listen to and discuss lectures given by prominent scholars at the ASCL and others based in the Netherlands on interconnected themes: 1- Africa's population dynamics and inclusive development; 2- Inclusive development in Africa; 3- Financing Africa's economic growth and inclusive development; 4- Productive employment for youth; 5 - Migration and inclusive development in Africa: the drain and the gain; and 6 - Africa's land policy, food security and extractives: who are the winners and who are the losers?

  3. They listen to and discuss with practitioners from the world of business, media, NGOs, and diplomacy in four sessions, led by Dr Nijenhuis. The practitioners’ input will be linked to the themes studied in the respective scientific sessions coordinated by Dr Akinyoade. An additional session is (to be) devoted to the interactive SDGs game.

  4. Students will be trained in skills to moderate discussions and Q&A sessions by Dr. Nijenhuis at the start of the course.

  5. Students are divided into chairing groups. Every week one chairing group is responsible for preparing discussion questions for the two sessions, including linking the academic session to the practitioner’s session, and moderating the discussions.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students:

  • have a good overview of major economic, geographical and demographical issues concerning inclusive development in Africa, its financing, and the social tensions economic growth may cause;

  • can read general scientific articles about Africa’s economy, geography and society, being able to understand the use of graphs, maps, tables and other forms of dissemination in these types of articles and the way scientists in these disciplines do their research and present their findings;

  • have a good idea about the way Netherlands-based practitioners working with and in Africa perceive Africa’s problems and possibilities, with a focus on inclusive development, and the way they discuss and disseminate their experiences;

  • can summarise the major debates and positions in the debate in a concise way, that is acceptable by expert scientists and by committed practitioners;

  • are able to moderate in-class discussions in such a way that they engage the other students in the discussion and move the discussion forward.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


  • Paper

  • Oral presentation and examination

  • Active participation in class (through chairing groups)


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average as follows:

  • Paper - 50%

  • Oral presentation and examination – 30%

  • Active participation in class (through chairing groups) – 20%

  • All subtests should be sufficient (6.0 or higher)


Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

A reading list (syllabus) with online sources will be made available prior to the start of the course.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website.

Registration À la carte education, Contract teaching and Exchange

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of À la carte education (without taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

Information for those interested in taking this course in context of Contract teaching (with taking examinations), eg. about costs, registration and conditions.

For the registration of exchange students contact Humanities International Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Reuvensplaats