Past Event

Prospects for a Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery in Africa: Catch-Up, Don’t Give Up

February 28, 2022
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM
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Launch of the Report:

The Economic Impact of COVID-19 and Prospects for a Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery in Africa


28 February    |    1:00-2:30PM ET (Virtual)

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This event is hosted by ISERP's Center for Pandemic Research, Columbia Global Centers in Nairobi and Tunis, the Academy of Political Science, and the Brenthurst Foundation (Johannesburg)


Join Lyal White and Heinrich Volmink in a panel discussion with Joseph Stiglitz (Columbia University), Sheila Jasanoff (Harvard University) and Njuguna Ndung’u (African Economic Research Consortium and former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya) moderated by Robert Shapiro (Columbia University and Academy of Political Science).

Lyal White, Liezl Rees, Heinrich Volmink and Nikitta Hahn, The Economic Impact of COVID-19 and Prospects for a Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery in Africa (Columbia University, Academy of Political Science and the Brenthurst Foundation).

Prospects for a Post-Pandemic Economic Recovery in Africa: Catch-Up, Don’t Give Up

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in 2019, it changed the way the world worked with far-reaching health and economic effects. The human cost has been enormous and is, with notable exceptions, well documented.

This study seeks to answer the question: How much economic damage was caused and how will African economies recover? Using information from five African countries – Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa – the researchers have produced new insights into the development and structural problems that have arisen and have looked at Africa’s future trajectory.

While the pandemic exposed a range of problems from poor data and high levels of informality in the private sector to comparatively low digital connectedness, inequality, and poor health and education systems, it has also provided a catalyst for change.

The challenges faced by the COVID-19 vaccination rollout across the continent highlight the need to improve health governance, not to mention overcoming international barriers to accessing health products and technologies, including vaccines. The need to bolster the regional bioeconomy and universalise vaccine access has never been clearer.

The time to accelerate and drive alternative areas of development has arrived. Real progress in an endemic world will only occur through a more creative and effective combination of an active private sector with entrepreneurial flair, and targeted government policy and reform.

About the Authors:

Lyal White

Prof. Lyal White is the founder of research and advisory practice Contextual Intelligence, Director of the Academy of Business Futures at Cadena Growth Partners, and Research Associate at the Brenthurst Foundation. Prior to this, he was the founding Director of the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, where he retains a Senior Research and Visiting Faculty role.
A strategic advisor on leadership, strategy and contextual intelligence in Africa and new markets, where he focuses on nuanced approaches to learning for development, his areas of interest and expertise cover a broad range of interdisciplinary fields, with a particular focus on comparative political economy and strategy in Africa, Asia and Latin America. He is widely published in news media, academic journals and books, and a regular commentator on radio, television and social media.
Having worked in a range of sectors covering themes from investment strategy, competitiveness, leadership and culture in new and complex markets to reform, growth and development in various geographies around the world, he has developed a keen interest in measuring and understanding the complexity and opportunity around context, and how this relates to a global mindset. How countries, firms and individuals improve their competitive performance balanced with purpose and impact is key. To this end, Prof. White has undertaken various studies and developed indices around metrics of performance and economic progress.
Prof. White has lived and worked in South Africa, Rwanda, Argentina, Colombia, Morocco and the US. He is an active board member of the Association of African Business Schools (AABS), to which he was elected in June 2019, and a member of the Growth-Ten Academic Advisory Board. Lyal is committed to purpose-driven business with a deep cultural understanding and impact. The right measures of performance are key. He is of the firm belief that strong institutions and connectedness build community, harnessing long-term prosperity for people and organisations across the globe.

Heinrich Volmink

Heinrich C. Volmink is a medical doctor and specialist in public health medicine. He currently consults as Public Health Specialist Advisor to Anglo American plc. He is also a board member of OUTA, an anti-corruption civil society organization in South Africa. Heinrich previously served as a Member of Parliament (MP) in National Assembly of South Africa. He is a Senior Lecturer Extraordinary in the Division of Health Systems and Public Health (Department of Global Health) of Stellenbosch University.

Heinrich holds a professional medical degree (Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine), as well as masters degrees in public administration (University of Warwick) and medicine (University of the Witwatersrand) – both earned with distinction - and is a Fellow of the College of Public Health Medicine (SA).

Nikitta Hahn

Nikitta Hahn is a researcher and writer, based in Johannesburg South Africa. Her research interests focus on economic development in the African context and alternative measures of economic progress.
Nikitta has held various research-related roles in South African academic institutions including the University of Johannesburg (UJ), The Centre for African Business (CAB) at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS) and currently, the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) at the University of Pretoria (UP).
She is completing her master’s at UJ where she graduated cum laude in her undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications. Her work in the field of economics can be found online in various digital publications.

Liezl Rees

Head of the Centre for African Business at the Johannesburg Business School, University of Johannesburg.

Liezl Rees has run the Centre for African Business (CAB) at Johannesburg Business School since 2018. In her role she is involved in the writing of teaching case studies, journal articles and white papers, and runs regular events and executive programmes which explore the context, challenges and opportunities of doing business in Africa.

Prior to joining the JBS, Liezl worked at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) for nine years, initially running GIBS conferences for four years, followed by the Centre for Dynamic Markets (CDM).

Research highlights in Liezl’s career thus far include developing and co-authoring the ‘Dynamic Market Index 2016,’ which measures the performance and progressive change of the institutional structure and economic capabilities of countries; a journal article titled ‘Institutions and the location strategies of South African firms in Africa,’ published by Thunderbird International Business Review; and a teaching case study on ‘Dangote’s expansion: Driving African capitalism,’ which won first place in the annual Emerald – AABS Case Study Competition in 2017.

Liezl has a Masters Degree in Development Studies from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).


About the Speakers:

Joseph Stiglitz

Joseph E. Stiglitz is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is also the co-chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, and the Chief Economist of the Roosevelt Institute. A recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001) and the John Bates Clark Medal (1979), he is a former senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank and a former chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers. In 2000, Stiglitz founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, a think tank on international development based at Columbia University. In 2011 Stiglitz was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Known for his pioneering work on asymmetric information, Stiglitz's research focuses on income distribution, climate change, corporate governance, public policy, macroeconomics and globalization. He is the author of numerous books, including People, Power, and Profits, Rewriting the Rules of the American EconomyGlobalization and Its Discontents Revisited, and The Euro.


Njuguna Ndung’u

Njuguna Ndung'u is the Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium based in Kenya. He is the immediate Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, and he has previously held positions at the University of Nairobi, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA). Prof. Ndung'u has extensive policy, research, and teaching experience in macroeconomics, microeconomics, econometrics, and financial development.


Sheila Jasanoff

Sheila Jasanoff is Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School. A pioneer in the social sciences, she explores the role of science and technology in the law, politics, and policy of modern democracies. Her books include The Fifth BranchScience at the BarDesigns on Nature, The Ethics of Invention, and Can Science Make Sense of Life? She founded and directs the STS Program at Harvard; previously, she was founding chair of the STS Department at Cornell. She has held distinguished visiting professorships at leading universities in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the US. Jasanoff served on the AAAS Board of Directors and as President of the Society for Social Studies of Science. Her honors include the SSRC’s Hirschman prize, the Humboldt Foundation’s Reimar-Lüst award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, foreign member of the British Academy and the Royal Danish Academy, and member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She holds AB, JD, and PhD degrees from Harvard, and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Twente and Liège.


Moderated by Robert Shapiro

Robert Y. Shapiro (Ph.D., Chicago, 1982) is a professor and former chair of the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, and he served as acting director of Columbia’s Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP) during 2008-2009. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received a Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award in 2012 and in 2010 the Outstanding Achievement Award of the New York Chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (NYAAPOR). He specializes in American politics with research and teaching interests in public opinion, policymaking, political leadership, the mass media, and applications of statistical methods. He has taught at Columbia since 1982 after receiving his degree and serving as a study director at the National Opinion Research Center (University of Chicago).

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Wilmot James as Convenor

Harlowe Zefting as Organizer

Loren Morales Kando as Publisher (Academy of Political Science)