Dr. Solomon Owusu

Powering Structural Transformation and Economic Development in Africa: The Role of Services, Manufacturing and Global Value Chains

Year: 2021

Neil Foster-McGregor and Bart Verspagen


This thesis focuses on structural transformation and economic development in Africa, by examining the contributions of services, manufacturing and global value chains. This is a research area that has gained importance in recent years, particularly in the context of Africa, and will no doubt continue to attract interest in the coming years. The thesis drew heavily on macro-level data for a representative sample of countries in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) that together contributes about 80 percent of the total economic output of the region. The thesis also drew on important theories in development economics to study structural change or lack thereof, in African countries and its implications for economic development in the region. A summary of the findings shows that: (1) SSA has recorded slow productivity growth but contribution from structural change is important and higher than previously estimated; (2) SSA countries have shown signs of productivity convergence with the regional frontier but convergence is driven more by efficiency improvements than technological progress; (3) Perceptions of services as productivity resistant do not apply to all service sub-sectors. Dynamic services are showing signs of productivity growth equal to or higher than that in manufacturing and other sectors. These service sectors are innovative and might act as new or alternative engines of growth alongside manufacturing and finally (4) Global value chain positively affects productivity growth in Africa. These gains are largely through backward participation and within effect and stronger for countries that are further from the productivity frontier. The benefits also arise mostly in non-resource intensive and non-oil resource intensive countries. Policy implications of these findings are discussed.

Selected publications by Solomon Owusu