Young African Scholar Recognized for Best Research Paper at 2012 African Economic Conference

05/11/2012
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On the closing day of the 2012 African Economic Conference in Kigali, Rwanda, on Friday, the conference organizers selected the best research paper presented at the conference by a young African scholar.The goal of the prize was to recognize and encourage research among young Africans.

Dick Nuwamanya Kamuganga, a Ugandan national and economist from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, won the award for his paper “Does Intra-Africa Regional Trade Cooperation Enhance Export Survival”, which was featured on Day 3 of the conference in a session on Regional Trade and Integration.

The paper was selected from among 500 submissions, which were narrowed down to 43 papers. In the end, only four research papers were shortlisted and given to a panel of judges to decide which one warranted the award for best conference paper by a young African scholar.

The basic criteria for the prize included that the paper should have been written a single author; the researcher should be under 40 years of age and from an African country; the paper should demonstrate innovation and relevancy in the area of economic policy, and should not have been presented anywhere prior to its presentation at the AEC in Kigali.

“It’s a boost to the researcher to be recognized, but it also encourages and inspires research contribution among young Africans,” the United Nations Development Programme’s Sebastian Levine said of the prize. Levine added that the award would be an ongoing feature of future AEC annual meetings, which the UNDP co-organizes each year in partnership with the African Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Africa.

Kamuganga’s paper explores whether intra‐African regional trade cooperation increases the likelihood that export relationships will survive longer once established at exporter‐product‐market level. It also explores the other underlying factors that restrict or enhance the survival of an African export relationship at exporter‐product‐market level once established.

The paper argues that sustainable export expansion is a key priority for all African countries to achieve sustainable economic growth. It also examines the effects of intra‐regional trade cooperation on sustainability of Africa’s exports within Africa and to the rest of the world.  

Kamuganga’s findings suggest that regional trade cooperation, or integration, initiatives in Africa have non‐negligible effects on enhancing Africa’s export survival. The results also show that the depth of regional integration matters when it comes to lowering Africa’s export hazard rates relative to countries that are not in any regional cooperation.

Kamuganga’s research explains that actors such costs to export, transit delays (time to export), procedures to export, financial depth, and institutional and policy biases against exports provide a natural framework for explaining the observable high hazard rates for African exports.

His paper argues that financial underdevelopment in Africa could have a crucial role in restricting Africa’s export relationship survival.

The researcher argued that regional trade cooperation in Africa would greatly reduce export duration, and would result in a reduction in infrastructure-related trade frictional costs. Benefits of regional trade cooperation would include a reduction in border procedures, harmonization of documentation, product standards and elimination of border tariffs.

The African Economic Conference, which took place from Tuesday, October 30 to Friday, November 2 in Kigali, urged African leaders to establish policies and strategies that interest citizen in a bid to achieve not only growth, but equitable or inclusive growth.