Challenging orthodoxies in economic thinking in Africa

January 24th, 2023

TrustAfrica (TA) and the Institute for Economic Justice (IEJ) are pleased to announce a three-day convening on Challenging Orthodoxies in Economic Thinking in Africa: Exploring Alternatives. The convening, which is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), will be held in Dakar, Senegal, on 2 to 4 September 2019.  

The African continent has a wealth of resourceful and creative young people, an abundance of natural resources, a potentially large common market, the possibility of expanding domestic industries and a large crop of untapped human potential. Yet the continent still contains 39 of the countries with the highest poverty rates and, as a continent, has the lowest levels of human development. While this situation cannot be separated from centuries of exploitation, it is also the consequence of the path taken (imposed or chosen) by most post-independence regimes. Especially important has been the hasty imposition of structural adjustment programmes, Washington Consensus and Post-Washington Consensus policies, and other more recent forms of neoliberal “reforms” which have been implemented and justified by conventional economic approaches, termed “economic orthodoxies”. This situation has naturally led to the labelling of several African countries as Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) by the neo-liberal establishment. However, the African continent has the opportunity to transform itself in a manner that raises living standards and levels of well-being and also to advance the rights and dignity of all people, in peace, unity and freedom.

 In order to tackle the dilemmas confronting our continent it is imperative that we understand and challenge the prevailing economic orthodoxies, develop new modes of thinking about economic issues, and build power behind alternatives. These are the main goals of this convening.  Specifically, the objectives of the meeting include:

  • deconstructing conventional economic assumptions and the political structures which were designed to entrench these;
  • interrogating the economic paradigms which can lead to inclusive and broad-based development and best serve social justice imperatives in the African context;  
  • surfacing alternative models and providing a safe space for alternative thinking;
  • exploring ways of advancing progressive and/or heterodox approaches to economics in African universities and think tanks; and
  • supporting movements across Africa to advance an agenda of rights-based advocacy and economic justice to advance the achievement of development and human rights.

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