International Conference in Memory of Guy Mhone on ‘Sustainable Employment Generation in Developing Countries: Current Constraints and Alternative Strategies’ Organised by IDEAs in partnership with Action Aid and Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, 25 - 27th January 2007.

The international conference in memory of Guy Mhone was organised by IDEAs in association with the Institute of Development Studies, University of Nairobi and Action Aid during 25-27 January, 2007, in the premises of Silver Springs Hotel, Nairobi. The conference had noted economists conforming to the heterodox school of thought as well as many young scholars from different countries, as per the basic objective of IDEAs to give space and exposure to budding economists at an international level. The conference was structured into four sessions on the first two days and three sessions on the last day, with the last two sesssions dedicated exclusively to paper presentations by young economists. The sessions were titled as follows:

  • Global Patterns of Economic Growth and Employment
  • Economic Growth and Livelihoods in Africa
  • Economic Liberalisation and Employment
  • Financial Structures and the “New” Employment
  • Recent Experiences of India and China
  • Latin American Experiences
  • The Impact of International Integration on Employment
  • Policy Options in the Current Context


Each session was followed by vibrant discussion by all participants on the papers in specific as well as on the topic in general, which helped to bring out deeper insights on the issues.

The conference started with an opening speech by Dr. Thandika Mkandawire, Director, UNRISD, who also happens to be close friend of Guy Mhone. The speech by Dr. Mkandawire, besides reminiscing Guy Mhone, covered the different issues facing developing countries today in the context of employment generation. The speech encompassed the overall essence of the conference successfully.

The session titled “Global Patterns of Economic Growth and Employment” had two papers presented by Prof. Jan Kregel (titled “Improving Global Economic Patterns of Growth and Employment”) and Prof. C. P. Chandrasekhar (titled “New Patterns of Development and the New Development “Miracles”). While Prof. Kregel’s paper gave a detailed overview of growth and employment generation in the third world countries, Prof. Chandrasekhar’s paper gave an insight into the new emerging areas in the third world countries like the service sector, and the reach and scope of such sectors in providing a comprehensive solution to the problem of employment in these countries.

The discussion on this session saw different participants sharing the experiences of their countries as well as enquiring on the prospects of achieving a solution. Hassan E. Oaikhennan and Douglas Godwin Omotor made a special intervention about the conditions in Nigeria and gave insights on the recent developments in the country.

The session titled “Economic Growth and Livelihoods in Africa” had three paper presentations by Prof. Patrick Bond (titled “Macroeconomic ‘Super-exploitation’: The African Case”), Dr. Sam Moyo (titled “The Agrarian Question and Rural Livelihoods”) and Dr. Dorothy McCormick (titled “The Generation of Decent Work in Kenya”). Prof. Bond’s paper was a detailed study of the onslaught of neo-liberal policies on the African nations that is leading to a drain of resources from the countries. Prof. Moyo gave insights into the agrarian question, especially in the context of land reforms in Zimbabwe and what changes it entails for the poor. Dr. McCormick’s paper was a discussion on the different policy initiatives for employment generation possible in the context of Kenya and the problems they entail in terms of implementation.

The ensuing discussion saw very active participation by especially the young scholars from Africa. Valere Nketcha Nana and Charity Chanza in particular raised many pertinent questions and expanded the purview of the discussion by bringing in specific issues of Cameroon and Malawi, especially about the agrarian problems in those countries.

The session titled “Economic Liberalisation and Employment” had papers presented by Dr. Julius Kiiza (titled “Deepening Integration: The Political Economy of Regionalism in East Africa”), Mohammad Maljoo (titled “The Lose-lose Game for the Iranian Workers: A Critical Evaluation of the Proposed Draft of Labour Law in Iran”), Dr. Charity Chanza (titled “Assessment of the Impact of Labour Market Liberalization on Maize Productivity and Rural Poverty in Malawi”) and Dr. Peter T. Jacobs (titled “‘Developmentalism’ and Agrarian Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa”). Dr. Kiiza’s paper gave a call for the integration of East African countries to form a common economic entity in the wake of neo-liberal onslaughts. Mohhammad Maljoo’s paper was a scathing critique of the new labour laws being implemented in Iran and how they seek to undermine the rights and opportunities of workers in the coming days. Dr. Chanza’s paper was a detailed study of the crisis being faced by the maize workers in Malawi after the implementation of neo-liberal reforms in that country.

This session evoked an interesting discussion session as a lot of theoretical interventions were made along with specific details being offered by various participants about the state of affairs in different countries.

The session titled “Financial Structures and the “New” Employment” had two papers presented by Dr. Erinc Yeldan (titled “Financialization of the World Economy, ‘Credible Governance’, Lopsided Growth and Vanishing Jobs) and Dr. Noemi Levy (titled “The New Pattern of Economic Growth in Developing Countries: Increased External Dependence, Low Salaries, Low Quality of Employment and Overvalued Exchange Rate). Both the papers gave an empirical overview of the effects of fiscal federalism along with nuanced theoretical explanations of the global phenomenon of “jobless growth”. Dr. Levy’s paper made special reference to the problem of overt external dependence of the developing nations and the restrictions thereby imposed on domestic policy making vis-à-vis the issue of employment generation.

The discussion session saw a lot of theoretical insights being provided by numerous participants. The interventions by Prof. Sam Moyo on the issue of governance and that by Prof. Kregel on external trade and vulnerability warrant special mention.

The session titled “Recent Experiences of India and China” had two paper presentations by Prof. Jayati Ghosh (titled “Economic Growth and Employment Generation in India: Old Problems and New Paradoxes”) and Dr. Andong Zhu (titled “Decreasing Employment Elasticity, Informalizing Labor Market and Ownership in China”). Both the authors tried to capture the dichotomy of rapid growth which has in effect worsened the employment scenario in the respective countries, despite global euphemism about the performances and rapid growth of both the countries in recent times. Both papers brought out the fact that the current neo-liberal policies have actually deepened income inequalities, lowered wage rates and worsened employment opportunities in the two countries.

There were many questions about the two countries in the discussion session, especially from Jonathan Adabre, who asked about the seeming similarities of experiences of the two countries despite different sector specialization by the two countries, and Tafadzwa Muropa who asked about the sustainability of the two growth experiences and what it entails for the foreseeable future. There were also spontaneous responses from numerous other participants with queries and comments.

The session titled “Latin American Experiences” had papers presented by Dr. Alicia Puyana Mutis (titled “Integrating South American Economies to the USA Market. Effects upon Development, Productivity and Employment”) and Dr. Rodrigo Pizzaro (titled “A Neoliberal Experiment: Myths and Reality of the Chilean Model”). While Dr. Alicia’s paper brought out the problems of aligning the Latin American economies to the US market, Dr. Pizzaro’s paper was a detailed analysis of Chile’s new model and the threats it possess for the economy in terms of employment and social welfare. Both papers criticized the policies of free trade and the withdrawal of State intervention as being crucial points for accelerating economic crisis.

The discussion session entailed some thoughtful insights from James Maringwa about the problems of the Caribbean Islands, which served as an extension of the session. Other young scholars like Lu Xia, Blessings Botha and Pierre Valere Nketcha put up various interesting questions about the experiences of Latin America in the light of the crises faced by Argentina, Venezuela in the past.

The session titled “The Impact of International Integration on Employment” had paper presentations by Lu Xia (titled “A Comparison of “Zhejiang Model” and “Jiangsu Model” of China and Encouragement of Endogenous Export-oriented Strategy in Developing Countries”, B. Vaithegi (titled “Decentralised Production Systems and Labour Market Flexibility: A study of the Leather Footwear Industry in South India) and Seraj Mohamed (titled “The Impact of International Capital Flows on the South African Economy since the End of Apartheid”). Lu Xia’s paper was a detailed study of the two different “models” implemented in the two regions of China and their comparative benefits and pitfalls. B. Vaithegi’s paper was a study of the effect of neo-liberalism in India, which had resulted in labour law flexibilities and the breaking down of linkages in the footwear industry and the subsequent effects in the leather footwear industry in South India. Seraj Mohamed’s paper was a study of post- apartheid South Africa and the effects of the transition from an economy excluded from the world economy, to its current form.

This session had mainly questions directed to the paper presenters for further details and insights on their respective areas.

The session titled “Policy Options in the Current Context” had paper presentations by Rolph Van der Hoeven (titled “Strategies for Employment Generation in Open Developing Countries with Financial Liberalisation”) and Timo Voipio (titled “Decent Work for All – Bridging the Economic and the Social (and the Environmental) Dimension of Sustainable Development”). Dr. Rolph’s paper was an attempt to suggest an alternative policy prescription for developing countries in the current context of globalisation. Dr. Voipio’s paper was an insight in the field of political economy where he tried to trace a possible bridge between economic and social policies so as to be able to better deal with the problems of unemployment and social welfare in totality.

The session induced intense discussion from the participants. Dr.Benneth Obi and Dr. Julius Kiiza both raised questions about the possibilities of implementing the suggestions of both the authors in their respective countries given the present contexts. Dr. Douglas Omotor raised the point of shrinking autonomy of developing countries and the increasing tendency of the Bretton Woods Institutions in formulating policy prescriptions for developing countries.

The remaining two sessions were specifically for presentations by young scholars in which papers were presented by Tafadzwa Roberta Muropa (titled “Employment Generation in Zimbabwe: Current Constraints and Alternative Strategies”), Benneth Obi (titled “Oil Rent Management and Fiscal Federalism: The Nigerian Experience”), Cheng Furui (titled “Social Dividend And Employment”), Zheng Feihu (titled “Employment Generation, Unemployment Impact and Variation of Urban Poverty in China”), Ozlem Tezcek (titled “An Alternative Approach to Overcome Jobless Growth In Turkey: A New Strategy of Industrialization”) and Dr. Muhammed Muttaka Usman (“The Impact of the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements on the Economies of West Africa: Analysis of Recent Evidence”).

Both sessions witnessed healthy and spirited discussion and benefited greatly from comments and suggestions from the senior economists present during the presentations.

The conference ended with a vote of thanks by Prof. Jayati Ghosh from IDEAs and Dr. Karuti Kanyinga from IDS. Both speakers also summed up the outcomes from the conference and the lessons learned thereby.

The three day conference was successful in bringing out the different aspects of the problem of generating sustainable employment in developing countries and managed to generate an overall macro level understanding of the problem. Though individual experiences of the different countries may differ, there are some commonalities between them that were successfully highlighted by the end of this conference. The spread and mix of the participants spanning continents from Latin America, Africa and Asia provided a wide canvas and helped to cover a broad spectrum of developing countries in the conference, thereby helping all to evolve a more comprehensive understanding of the problem.

# Thursday, 25 January, 2007 #

Thandika Mkandawire : Special Lecture in Memory of Guy Mhone

GLOBAL PATTERNS OF ECONOMIC GROWTH AND EMPLOYMENT

Jan Kregel : Improving Global Economic Patterns of Growth and Employment

C.P. Chandrasekhar: New Patterns of Development and the New Development “Miracles”

ECONOMIC GROWTH AND LIVELIHOODS IN AFRICA

Patrick Bond: “Macroeconomic ‘Super-exploitation’: The African Case”

Sam Moyo: “The Agrarian Question and Rural Livelihoods”

Dorothy McCormick: “The Generation of Decent Work in Kenya”

ECONOMIC LIBERALISATION AND EMPLOYMENT 

Julius Kiiza: “Deepening Integration: The Political Economy of Regionalism in East Africa.”

Mohammad Maljoo: “The Lose-Lose Game for the Iranian Workers: A Critical Evaluation of the Proposed Draft of Labour Law in Iran”

Charity Chanza: “Assessment of the Impact of Labour Market Liberalization on Maize Productivity and Rural Poverty in Malawi”

Peter T. Jacobs: “Developmentalism’ and Agrarian Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa”


# Friday, 26 January 2007 #

FINANCIAL STRUCTURES AND THE “NEW” EMPLOYMENT

Erinc Yeldan: “Financialization of the World Economy, ‘Credible Governance’, Lopsided Growth and Vanishing Jobs”

Noemi Levy: “The New Pattern of Economic Growth in Developing Countries: Increased External Dependence, Low Salaries, Low Quality of Employment and Overvalued Exchange Rate”

RECENT EXPERIENCES OF INDIA AND CHINA

Jayati Ghosh& C.P. Chandrasekhar: “Economic Growth and Employment Generation in India: Old Problems and New Paradoxes”

Andong Zhu: “Decreasing Employment Elasticity, Informalizing Labor Market and Ownership in China”

LATIN AMERICAN EXPERIENCES

Rodrigo Pizarro: “A Neoliberal Experiment: Myths and Reality of the Chilean Model”

Alicia Puyana Mutis: “Integrating South American Economies to the USA Market. Effects upon Development, Productivity and Employment”.

THE IMPACT OF INTERNATIONAL INTEGRATION ON EMPLOYMENT

Lu Xia: “A Comparison of “Zhejiang Model” and “Jiangsu Model” of China and Encouragement of Endogenous Export-oriented Strategy in Developing Countries

B. Vaithegi: “Decentralised Production Systems and Labour Market Flexibility: A Study of the Leather Footwear Industry in South India”

Seraj Mohamed: “The Impact of International Capital Flows on the South Africa Economy Since the End of Apartheid”


# Saturday, 27 January 2007 #

POLICY OPTIONS IN THE CURRENT CONTEXT

Rolf Van der Hoeven: “Financial Opemmess and Employment: The Need for Coherent International and National Policies”

Timo Voipio: “Decent Work for All – Bridging the Economic and the Social (and the Environmental) Dimension of Sustainable Development”

SESSIONS FOR YOUNG ECONOMISTS

Tafadzwa Roberta Muropa: “Employment Generation in Zimbabwe: Current Constraints and Alternative Strategies”.

Benneth Obi: “Oil Rent Management and Fiscal Federalism: The Nigerian Experience”.

Muhammed Muttaka Usman: “The Impact of the EU-ACP Economic Partnership Agreements on the Economies of West Africa: Analysis of Recent Evidence”

Cheng Furui: “Social Dividend and Employment”

Zheng Feihu: “Employment Generation, Unemployment Impact and Variation of Urban Poverty in China”

Ozlem Tezcek: “An Alternative Approach to Overcome Jobless Growth In Turkey: A New Strategy of Industrialization”