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Economy, Geography and Society in Africa


Admission requirements

The course is compulsory 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 the emerged economies from Asia and South America. But concurrently, inequality is rising and there are demands for more financial inclusion and social protection, supported by social movements, the so-called impatient youth, and considerations about its negative balance of trade with the EU (from 2014 till date), as well as contemporary movements in world commodity and raw material prices, and pandemics that influences balance of trade. All these, acting together may signpost blips in economic trajectory of Emerging Africa or signal impending economic downturn. Many observers are concerned about issues of environmental sustainability, land grabbing, as well as food, nutrition and water security. In addition, places of insecurity and fragility appear to juxtapose areas of democratic and economic stability.

In this course, students will do the following things:

a) They study and discuss scientific literature about economy, geography and society in Africa 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.

b) They listen to and discuss lectures given by prominent scholars at the ASCL and others based in the Netherlands on interconnected themes such as: 1- Africa’s population dynamics and inclusive development; 2 – Migration and development in Africa: the drain and the gain; 3 - Africa’s economic growth and financing development: past, present and future; 4 - Inclusive development in Africa; 5 - Africa’s land policy, food security and conflict; and 6 - Africa’s South-South social and economic connections.

c) 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.

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

e) For all six scientific and four practitioners’ sessions, students will propose discussion questions related to theme of the session and submitted on Brightspace prior to the session; assigned roles as moderators to prepare the debate, appointed as discussants to prepare propositions.

Course objectives

At the end of the course, students

  • have a good overview of the major issues concerning Africa’s current economic situation, the geographical diversity of its demography and geography, and the social tensions that the recent economic growth 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, 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 avalable through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


  • Paper

  • Oral presentation and examination (based on paper and discussion)

  • Participation (submitting questions for discussion)


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

  • Paper - 50%

  • Oral presentation and examination – 30%

  • Participation – 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 with online sources and some print copies will be made available prior to the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


For questions related to the content of the course, please contact the lecturer, you can find their contact information by clicking on their name in the sidebar.

For questions regarding enrollment please contact the Education Administration Office Reuvensplaats

For questions regarding your studyprogress please contact the Coordinator of Studies