Two West African economists have emerged at the top from a selection of 36 academic papers presented at the 12th African Economic Conference for proposing reforms, including the de-regulation of the labour markets and the tax administration reforms aimed at raising government revenue.
Dr. Adam Elhiraika, Director of the Microeconomic Policy Division at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), announced Abidemi Adegboye, a doctorate student at the University of Benin, Nigeria, as the winner of the top paper prize, for his paper on "Economic regulation and employment elasticity of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," at the just-concluded African Economic Conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The paper was selected for its relevance to the theme of the conference, which focused on the governance reforms required to achieve structural transformation.
The conference, which took place from December 4-6, 2017, provided a forum for leading thinkers and economic practitioners to discuss the emerging issues in Africa with a view to promoting knowledge management and important drivers of policy dialogue and implementation.
Senegalese economics lecturer, Ameth Saloum Ndiaye, from the Department of Economics at the University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal, was awarded the second-best paper prize, for his research on the impact of institutional tax reform and its contribution to the improved well-being in Senegal.
The paper was among those presented during the three-day conference, at the headquarters of the ECA in Addis Ababa, which was also attended by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, several African dignitaries, economists and advisors of senior state officials.
In his paper, Adegboye examined the impact of economic regulation on the labour markets in 37 African countries and concluded that structural changes and population changes were not adequate to generate economic growth and create employment in the economy.
There were only five countries from all African economies that had industry as the largest sector in their GDP; and none of the countries had industry as the largest employment sector.
The paper examined employment trends in several African countries. The researcher noted there were only eight countries that had industry as the largest sector in GDP. However, no country had industry as the largest sector in employment. In addition to the initial five countries, three countries - Angola, Congo and Djibouti - had joined the rank on countries with largest industry share in GDP.
For most of the countries (including Nigeria), agriculture was the largest sector in terms of both GDP and employment for the initial year, but the services sector took over as the largest sector both in terms of GDP share and employment in the final year.
The researcher also noted that though the labour force in the region is largely involved in some forms of activity, the jobs being performed do not guarantee their livelihood.
Adegboye also discovered that regulations and government involvement tend to play essential roles in facilitating employment during periods of economic growth. In pursuing employment enhancing growth, regulatory institutions in most countries could function in the areas of controlling excessive population growth, ensuring smooth factor reallocation and aiding balanced growth, he recommended.
In this direction, policies that regulate labour market and other economic activities are essential in aiding feasible employment outcomes given the structural bottlenecks in many African economies.
In his paper, Ndiaye said tax administration reforms have both positive and negative impacts on the collection of revenue depending on how the measurement is done, which proves that the scientific methods used to discover the weaknesses and strengths of both systems remain unreliable.
He said the reform measures depended on the new policies introduced by the tax authorities each year as well as the tax related reforms and those geared towards the tax collection institution.
The conference is jointly organized each year by the African Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme and UN Economic Commission for Africa. Next year's edition will be hosted by UNDP. The venue and theme of the meeting will be announced at a later date.