Vi members, HTW Berlin and Makerere University Business School (MUBS), along with Uganda's Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), organized a workshop to further the debate, from an economic perspective, on challenges and opportunities for Least Developed Countries (LDC). The Vi, with funding from the Government of Finland, arranged for contributions from two experts, international consultant Mehdi Shafaeddin, and Rolf Traeger, of UNCTAD's Division for Africa, Least Developed Countries and Special Programmes.
Held May 24 to 26 in Kampala, the workshop's orientation was based on the premise that although substantial research has been dedicated to study institutional settings of LDCs, arguably less attention has been given to the analysis of broader economic theories and policies from their perspective.
The workshop brought together more than 80 participants, including: professors and lecturers working at universities that are members of the DAAD/HTW project’s network (mainly African Vi members); researchers from key research institutions in Uganda, like EPRC; high-ranking Ugandan officials from the monetary and fiscal arms of the government; representatives from private sector organizations; and students from universities around the country.
During the workshop, the debate centered on four themes, namely macroeconomics, trade, development and financial economics. The trade track seemed to generate the most debate.
Traeger delivered a keynote address entitled, "Towards a new international development architecture for Least Developed Countries." Jan Rielander, of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), made a presentation on the global shift in wealth: "What does it mean for LDCs development."
On the second day, Uganda’s Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry hosted a stimulating half-day policy dialogue discussing many opportunities and development options. As development paths are numerous, one official asked, “...(W)hat then do I have to recommend to my Minister (...)?( I)s there no tangible path that I can make a case for?," highlighting the fact that LDCs like Uganda still had numerous issues to tackle at the same time, a situation that makes prioritization challenging for policy makers.
At the close of the workshop, a final round table discussion centered on options and ideas for improved trade policy, regional integration and better macroeconomic management in LDCs. A seed was sown for of networking between universities and policy research centers in Uganda to undertake economic studies on money, finance, trade and development. The workshop also offered an excellent platform for policymakers and scholars in the South to interact with academia in both in the South and the North.
EPRC is working at extracting policy briefs and publishing them in their policy brief publications in an effort to keep the debate relevant.
Papers and presentations related to the workshop will soon be available at the project's website (http://daadpartnership.htw-berlin.de/index.php).