Not without reason, economics has been called the dismal science. While this characterization usually refers to the dismal record that economists have in accurately projecting economic trends, students often find economic concepts boring and dismally difficult to understand. In this module on African economics we will attempt to make learning about economic issues in Africa interesting.
This module has two overarching objectives.
First, this module is designed to bring some understanding of and knowledge about the many economic issues confronting contemporary Africa. A glance at either the international media coverage of Africa or at official economic data from the United Nations or the World Bank on African economic performance will leave the average viewer or reader with a pessimistic impression of Africa’s economic condition. This module will attempt to develop an historical and contextual understanding of Africa’s economic condition(s), while challenging commonly held perspectives on the economics of Africa. To accomplish this objective a fair proportion of this module will be dedicated to the historical antecedents to current economic performance, relations, and practice.
Second, the module will tackle the first objective within the framework of disciplinary guidelines (national and state) for the study of economics in middle and high-school classrooms.
Specifically, the module will cover the following thematic guidelines:
- Economic wants and needs for goods and services within a variety of African contexts
- An exploration of the various methods (historic and contemporary) of the production of goods and services emphasizing the integration of factors of production, land, raw materials, capital, and human resources, in a variety of African contexts
- The impact of economic scarcity, inequality, and choice in economic practice, in a variety of African contexts
- The importance of economic specialization and diversity in economic development with special reference to African experiences
- The importance of markets, exchange and trade (domestic, regional, international) historically and in contemporary Africa.
These objectives are addressed through nine learning activities. It should take either three or four 50 minute periods to complete all nine modules.
We have prepared a bibliography of suggested readings for teachers interested in learning more about the economic issues covered in this module.