The Jena Africa Study Group was established at the University of Jena, dedicated to high-level research, teaching and policy consulting on development strategies in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), thereby focusing on microeconomic and institutional aspects of development.
There is an increasing awareness of the fact that sustainable poverty reduction, health care improvements, comprehensive education or innovation, in sum human and economic development, are dependent on institutional preconditions such as democratic participation, accountability or the absence of corruption. This relation has been shown by many studies on the national macro-level. However, since Africa is consisting of countries characterized by an enormous internal cultural and institutional diversity, the macro-perspective is insufficient to understand the obstacles to development completely. Therefore the JASG will focus on the micro-perspective, with the core objectives are to:
- work on the micro-foundations of economic development in SSA, taking into account regional and national specifics
- utilize cooperation network in Africa as well as in Germany
- build up substantial databases beyond known indicators of institutions in order to perform empirical work, spanning from field research including experiments to econometric analyses where necessary
Several channels of development and thus of analysis have to be considered:
- a political and social channel investigates how the political system and conflict affect economic well-being in Africa. Among others, questions related to the existence and combating of corruption as well as bad governance are addressed, mainly on the local level;
- a second, economic and business channel can be used to analyzing the business environment, the role of entrepreneurship, aspects of education, and the important new role of network industries, in particular telecommunications,
- the third, environmental channel is dedicated to questions of sustainability as our study group aims at strengthening the awareness of ensuring sustainability in growth processes. On the global scale, there is a trade-off between further development and climate change and its containment respectively. There may be ways to address this problem on the local level by discussing decentralized forms of energy supply without utilizing fossil fuels, to give an example;
- finally, think of an international channel. Although SSA is still a minor player in global trade and investment, prospects are better. It seems particularly rewarding to assess those institutions necessary to attract sustainable investment and to facilitate a better integration of the continent into global trade.