New Vision (Kampala)

Ugandan Scholar Wins Prestigious Research Award

Ugandan economic scholar Dick Kamuganga's work has been selected as the best research paper presented at the just concluded 2012 African Economic Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

Kamuganga's paper "Does Intra-Africa Regional Trade Cooperation Enhance Export Survival", which was featured at the conference, was selected from among 500 submissions, which were narrowed down to 43 papers and Kamuganga's won the award for best conference paper by a young African scholar.

"The goal of the prize was to recognize and encourage research among young Africans," said a statement from the African Development Bank.

Kamuganga is an economist from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

The selection panel considered among others that the paper should have been written by a single author, the researcher should be under 40 years of age and from an African country. The other criterion is that 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," said the United Nations Development Programme's Sebastian Levine.

Levine stressed 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.

According to the statement, Kamuganga's 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 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.

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