The 2017 GReCEST Conference in Addis

The 2017 conference of Global Research Consortium on Economic Structural Transformation (GReCEST) was held on the 13th and 14th of December 2017 at the Radisson Blue, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The two day conference involved series of presentations and follow-up discussions on five themes: Exploring Linkages between Structural Transformation and the Labour Market; Leverage Special Economic Zones for Structural Transformation from a Comparative Perspective; Green Transformation; Innovation and Structural Transformation; Rural Transformation and the Development of Agri-Food Value Chain in Developing Countries, and a roundtable focusing on ‘Africa’s Economies in 2050’.

As the conference brings together country case studies predominantly relating to structural transformation, it has created platform for the participants to draw lessons from one another’s experience.

The Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) co-hosted the conference which was organized by GReCEST Secretariat, Center for New Structural Economics, at Peking University.

Organized for the second time, the 2017 GReCEST conference commenced with opening remarks from Justin Yifu Lin, Chair, GReCEST; Director, Center for New Structural Economics at Peking University’; Jorge Chediek, Director, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) (Video Speech); Francois Ekoko, Regional Chief, United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC); Mansour Ndiaye,Regional Hub Cluster Team Leader, Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development in Addis Ababa, United Nations Development Programme(UNDP); Feven Tsehaye, Fellow, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Patrick Kormawa, Representative to AU, UNECA & SRC-SFE, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and key note addresses by Dr. Arkebe Oqubay, Minister and Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and Dr. Celestin Monga, Vice-President and Chief Economist, African Development Bank.

Both key note speakers emphasized on the need to consider one’s own context in the move to realize structural transformation. Dr. Arkebe shared the participants Ethiopia’s experience of structural transformation. He briefly states Ethiopia’s experiment with structural transformation and industrial policies. The Ethiopian experiment shows that structural transformation is possible. Nevertheless, it shows that structural transformation is colossal challenge. From the Ethiopia experiment, Dr. Arkebe reveals the necessity for the state to play an activist developmental role to promote structural transformation. According to Dr. Arkebe, the experiment emphasizes policy learning, the vital role of learning-by-doing as the prime means of mastering policy making, and policy independence as a key ingredient. He concludes his key note address stressing that every country has to take into account its own context as there is no a one-fits-all approach. The second key note speaker, Dr. Celestin Monga, contends that most African countries subscribed to wrong model to tow their development path and this has plunged such countries into bad economic outcomes for decades. He highlights certain key elements that could propel Africa into the long-desired development path that has eluded the continent for so long. As Dr. Monga puts, sectoral industrial policy tailored to fit the comparative advantages of each country for growth-enhancing structural change is a good starting point.

GReCEST conference is a forum set to bring together researchers, policy makers, stakeholders, and academia from all over the world to exchange experiences and deliberate on topical issues pertaining to economic structural transformation. It aims to foster intellectual partnerships and promote original thinking and innovative practice in an effort to help developing countries to achieve economic structural transformation. The inaugural conference of GReCEST held in Beijing in 2016.

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