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Economy, Geography and Society in Africa


Admission requirements



‘Emerging Africa’, ‘Africa Rising’ and other optimistic catchwords 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. At the same time, inequality is rising as well and there are demands for more ‘inclusive development’, supported by social movements and by an impatient Youth, and considerations about the 2015 negative balance of trade, which may either be a blip in economic trajectory of Emerging Africa or signal of impending downturn. Many observers are concerned about issues of environmental sustainability, land grabbing, and food, nutrition and water security. And there are also many places of insecurity and fragility, where the economy is in disarray.
In this course, students will do three things:
a) they study and discuss scientific literature about economy, geography and society in Africa in seven 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 based in the Netherlands on interconnected themes such as: 1- Africa’s land resources and prospects for food security; 2 - Africa’s population growth issues; 3 - Africa’s water resources and resource conflict management practices; 4- Africa’s political economy and prospects for inclusive development; 5 - Africa’s economic growth and financing development: past, present and future; and 6 - Africa’s South-South social and economic connections and what this means for Europe. The last session is a a debate session on Africa in 2050:, realities and myths of ‘Emerging Africa’.
c) They listen to and discuss with practitioners from the world of business, media, NGOs, and diplomacy in six sessions, for which students are assigned roles as chairpersons to prepare the debate and appointed discussants make a concise report of the main findings. The practitioners’ input will be linked to the themes studied in the respective scientific sessions.
All literature and all sessions will be in English; however, the students and lecturers will be encouraged to also include systematically acquired information and experiences from Francophone, Lusophone and Arabophone Africa.

Course objectives

General Learning Objectives (GLO):

The student will aquire the ability to:
1. Formulate judgements, based on a question or problem in the field of African Studies, even when the student has insufficient or limited information, by taking into account social and cultural, academic and ethnical repsonsibilities linked to the student’s own application of knowledge and judgement.
2. Clearly communicate, both in oral and written form, the outcomes based on the students own academic research, knowledge, motifs, and considerations to professionals as well as the broader public.
3. Continue further study at a professional level or academic level.

Learning skills (LS) pertaining to the course:

  1. The student will obtain proven knowledge of an interdisciplinary insight into the societies and cultures of Africa.
  2. The student will obtain the ability to apply knowledge, insights and different methods from the disciplines [such as - Geography, Demography, Anthropology, Economics, Resources Governance] in new or unknown circumstances within the domain of African Studies, in order to solve problems, integrate knowledge and deal with complex matters
  3. Students will obtain a good overview and understanding of the interconnectedness of the major issues concerning Africa’s current economic situation, the diversity of its demography and geography, and the social and environmental tensions that the recent economic growth cause; Lectures given by academics and practitioners will espouse scientific and practical perspectives of the interconnectedness.

  4. Students will be equipped to 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;
    Students will acquire solid background on their respective African countries of research interest and, can summarise the major debates and positions in the debate in a concise way, that is acceptable by expert scientists and by committed practitioners.


African Studies

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Total course load 140 hours (5EC)

  • Seminars: 26 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 44 hours

  • Assignment(s): 14 hours

  • Preparation exam: 55 hours

  • Exam(s): 1 hour

  • Other:

Assessment method

Oral examination based on:

  • Attendance and participation in class (10%) (GLO 2; LS 1-4)

  • Written report, moderating sessions (10%) (GLO 2; LS 1-4)

  • Quality of term paper (50%) (GLO 1; LS 1-4)

  • Oral examination on course literature and term paper (30%) (GLO 1-2; LS 1-4)


Blackboard will be used for this course:

  • Information on course content

  • Submission of written work

This course is supported by Blackboard. Blackboard will be used to provide students with an overview of current affairs, as well as specific information about (components of) the course. Please see:

Reading list

  • Stephen Ellis, 2011, Season of Rains. Africa in the World. London: Hurst & Company.

  • A reading list with online sources and some print copies will be made available prior to the start of the course.


Enrolment through uSis for the course and the examination or paper is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch


Teachers: Dr. A. Akinyoade Dr. Karin Nijenhuis

Education Administration Office van Wijkplaats:

Coordinator of Studies: Else van Dijk