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African Development Bank and Harvard Kennedy School train country economists on “building back better” post-COVID-19

February 12, 2021

The Country Economics Department (ECCE) and the Human Resources  Departments (CHHR) of the African Development Bank are collaborating with researchers at Evidence for Policy Design (EPoD) and Executive Education at Harvard Kennedy School to train the Bank’s Country Economists on effective post-COVID-19 response and recovery strategies for Africa.

The COVID-19 outbreak has triggered a global economic downturn, with populations locked down and business, industry and trade heavily impacted. African economies shrank by 2.1 percent in 2020, with the pandemic compounding an already alarming state of indebtedness.

Seated across the Bank’s country offices, country economists have an important role to play in providing member countries with advice on response strategies to ensure a gradual recovery from the impact of COVID-19, with the longer-term aim of “building back better” and fostering inclusive growth.

Emmanuel Pinto Moreira, the Bank’s Director of the Country Economics Department, said the program would help the Bank’s economists to respond to the needs of regional member countries (RMCs) as they chart their economic recovery from the pandemic.

“The Bank is increasingly shifting towards a knowledge institution and an influencer of policy reforms in the RMCs,” Dr Pinto Moreira said.

“Our country economists who engage with RMCs regularly, are frequently faced with important policy questions and demand for advice on fiscal and social policies that RMCs should adopt in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery strategies.”

Dr. Awuese Oku, the Bank’s Chief Learning and Development Officer noted that while the global economic recession will impact African economies and possibly lead to recessions in some countries in the continent, Africa needs appropriate response strategies not just to respond to the effects of the pandemic, but also how to build strong systems. “The Bank can only give what it has; therefore, the Bank’s support to the RMCs can only be as good as the knowledge that Bank Staff possess”. Dr. Oku noted. She thanked the  Management  of the Bank for always supporting staff learning with adequate budget.

Seventy economists from the Bank are participating in the interactive program, which runs virtually from 18 January to 10 February 2021. The course is based on Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI)(link is external) methodology, an approach developed by researchers at the Havard University.

Bank economists are already thrilled with the course. “The economic collapse caused by the COVID-19 pandemic demands innovative responses to transform African economies. I find the Smart Policy Design and Implementation (SPDI) methodology proposed and discussed in the course to be a powerful tool for developing post-COVID proposals,” said Cedric Mbeng Mezui, the Bank’s Chief African Bond Markets Expert, one of the participants in the program.

Joel Muzima, a Principal Country Economist, said: “This is a cutting-edge training and facilitated by top-notch scholars. I am confident that this training will help sharpen my analytical skills and critical thinking for country dialogue and designing country strategies and diagnostics to assist Bank’s regional member countries ‘build back better’ post-COVID-19.”

The Bank has been at the forefront of the continent’s efforts to address the economic impacts of COVID-19,  guiding member countries on their fiscal and social policy responses to the crisis. This is a role it will carry through 2021 when Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 3.4% as the global economy starts to recover.

“We are excited to welcome economists from the African Development Bank to this special program on the challenges of COVID-19 and multi-sectoral response to achieve inclusive growth,” said Katy Doyle,

Director for Evidence for Policy Design, Center for International Development (CID) based at Harvard Kennedy School.


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