Accueil > Political economy of sub saharan africa


Type d'enseignement : Seminar

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English



Course Description

With about 1.2 billion inhabitants, Africa currently hosts about 15% of the world's population. Given the expected growth, Africa could become the most populated continent by the end of the century, with a population above 4 billion people in 2100. Certain analysts therefore believe that Africa will inevitably become the next emerging continent. However, for the time being it still remains very dependent on the rest of the world, even marginalised within the globalisation process, producing only 3.5% of the global GDP and participating in only 3% of international trade. How can we explain Africa's economical evolution since the end of colonisation? How have internal and international factors impacted the trajectory of African economy? What is responsible for the current poor situation of African countries? Is it due to strictly internal problems and the continuous interference of external powers in African affairs from foreign governments, international organisations as well as non-State actors (multinationals, international NGOs, etc.)? What are the consequences of globalisation on the political and economic system of African countries? Is the growing involvement of China and other emerging countries in Africa an opportunity for the development of the continent? This course aims to explain the current political and economic situation in Africa and analyse the multiple factors of Africa's misdevelopment. To do so it is necessary to study the complex implication of all kinds of actors involved in Africa's affairs through a multi-disciplinary approach, including political science, economy, and sociology. Drawing a historical perspective is also necessary. The course aims to think about Africa through its insertion in globalisation and to analyse how this insertion impacts the local political systems, and vice versa, without falling neither into fatalistic afropessimism nor into naïve afrooptimism.


COPINSCHI, Philippe (Freelance Consultant in the field of Energy)

Pedagogical format


Course validation

Each group (composed of two or three students) is required to prepare a paper (about 5 pages + annexes) on a case study to be defined in discussion with the teacher. The paper is to be handed in on the day before the relevant session, and to be presented to the class (duration: max 20 min) with a complete Power Point presentation (including maps, charts, diagrams, pictures, videos, etc.). The evaluation will be based on the paper, the presentation, a take home exam and the participation.

Required reading

  • Jedrzej George Frynas and Manuel Paulo, “A New Scramble for African Oil? Historical, Political, and Business Perspectives”, African Affairs, (2007) 106 (423), p. 229-251
  • Jean-François Bayart, “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion”, African Affairs, 99 (395), 2000, pp. 217-267
  • Stephen Ellis, "West Africa's International Drug Trade", African Affairs, (2009) 108 (431), p. 171-196
  • Richard Auty, "How natural resources affect economic development", Development Policy Review, (2000-12) vol.18, n°4, p. 347-364