African Boys smiling

Kiel Institute Africa Initiative

Logo Kiel Institute Africa Initiative

Africa is currently featuring strongly in the German and European public debate. The political interest in the continent is mainly driven by the fear that population growth and global warming will lead to enormous migration pressure from Africa as they lead to a severe lack of productive employment opportunities for the youth.  The countermeasures that are currently discussed and partly already implemented in Europe range from more restrictive immigration policies to a scaling-up of foreign aid as a means to tackle the root causes of migration. At the same time, there are increasingly more optimistic voices. They point to the high African growth rates in the 2000s and regard them as a sign of a large economic potential in terms of rising trade and investment opportunities. In contrast to what the often very clear assertions in the public debate suggest, there are still many open research questions regarding Africa’s international economic relations, for example when it comes to assessing the quantitative  importance of climate-induced migration.

The Kiel Institute Africa Initiative is meant to help overcome this discrepancy. For this purpose, we will build a network of experts mainly from economics, who will exchange research findings, work on joint research projects, and engage in a dialogue with policymakers and the general public. The focus of the network’s activities will be on Africa-Europe relations. It’s work will be facilitated by the Kiel Institute’s Communication, Events and Grant Centers. Furthermore, Africa Initiative will closely collaborate with existing initiatives at the Kiel Institute. This in particular holds for the Poverty Reduction, Equity and Growth Network (PEGNet), which fosters the exchange between researchers and development practitioners from Europe and Africa. It also applies to the Mercator Dialogue on Asylum and Migration (MEDAM) - with its focus on the management of migrant flows from Africa - and to the Kiel Center for Globalisation (KCG), where the analysis of global value chains including developing countries is among the main research areas.

The first activities of the Kiel Institute Africa Initiative include two large research projects:

China in Africa: Exploring the Consequences for Economic and Social Development (CIA)

This research project aims to shed new light on the economic and social effects of China’s engagement in Africa along all key dimensions - trade, investment, aid, debt, and migration - and also to get a better understanding of how China’s presence is perceived by African citizens.

Cluster "Economics Research on Africa

This cluster will feature economics research on Africa related to topics of high policy relevance. The focus will be on (i) the potential of African markets for local and German enterprises; (ii) trade and investment policy; and (iii) macroeconomic development, stability and public finances.

Furthermore, the Kiel Institute Africa Initiative is involved in a consultancy project at the University of Rwanda. The purpose of this project is to develop a Master programme in applied quantitative economics and to develop local research capacities.

Dr. Kacana Khadjavi in virtual interview

Online Opening Conference | Replay on Youtube

Call for Papers | Conference on Africa’s regional and global integration

Africa’s regional and global integration – Lessons from the past and implications for the future

While remaining the most isolated region from the global economy, Africa has realized continuous progress towards a closer and more active integration, both from within and beyond the continent’s borders. The international research conference  that is jointly organized by the German Development Institute (DIE) and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW) on “Africa’s regional and global integration – Lessons from the past and implications for the future” invites researchers working on deepened (formal) economic relationships, both within Africa and with external partners, to present their original research. Submitted papers need to show a clear link to Africa’s regional or global integration efforts and experiences. We welcome policy-relevant quantitative and qualitative approaches and encourage particularly young researchers and those from the Global South to submit their contributions. Areas of interest include (but are not limited to) the linkage of Africa’s regional and global integration with:

  • Trade, including regional and global value chain (GVC) integration
  • Foreign Direct Investment
  • Structural transformation & (de-)industrialization
  • Digitalization
  • Labor market & migration
  • Household welfare
  • Economic growth & poverty
  • Covid-19 recovery
  • Climate change & sustainability

Depending on the COVID-19 situation, the conference will be held either face-to-face in Bonn (Germany), as a hybrid event or fully virtually. Participants will be notified about modalities in due time. Submissions and related inquiries should be directed exclusively to E-Mail Address protected. Please enable Javascript. until 30 April 2022. In both cases, please use “Africa Conference 2022” in the subject line.

For more information, please refer to the call for papers and to the DIE website.

Call for Papers


  1. Dr. Lennart Kaplan
    University of Göttingen