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
- Economic Liberalisation
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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