The concept of this 'economic cycle blog' was part conceived in Kirkady, the Scottish town which I passed through in my UK warm up ride in 2010. It was most famous in the late 18th century for producing Adam Smith and his seminal work ‘An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations'.
I figured that I would be passing through nearly 20 countries on my return to the UK. I had contemplated doing a masters in economic development. However rather than spending a year sitting in a library trying to broaden my understanding, it seemed more enlightening to undertake my own 'research', whilst passing through what would be a broad range of economies, from some of the poorest developing economies in Africa to several of the G7developed' economies in Europe as I approach London next year.
So far, as well as a top-gear style economics ‘field trip’with my students into London, I’ve ridden some 2500kms through 3 separate economics: South Africa, Botswana & Zambia, economies that share some common characteristics and challenges but are also unique in many ways, from their factor endowment to politics and policy. I met a leading member of the South Africa Reserve Bank (SARB) Monetary Policy Committee in Pretoria, in Africa’s most diversified and developed economy. Botswana, meanwhile, is blessed with plentiful diamonds and has such been one of the few economies to match China’s per capital GDP growth in the last 15 years. Finally Zambia, home to the Copperbelt region where the main charity project that my ride is supporting is based, has suffered somewhat of a ‘resource curse’: large parts of the population remain in poverty despite a thriving mining industry. Active in Botswanan and Zambian economic debate is the roll of the Chinese, which will form the basis for the next blog.
In each country thereafter during my journey, I'll be trying to observe the economic activity of the regions that I pass through, from the informal economy to high level policy making.
Thematically, I'm particularly interested to learn more about the role education plays in economic development. In tandem with this idea, I'll be examining the role of two very different but equally important inventions in post industrial revolution society, the bicycle & the mobile phone. I hope to understand what role they have and can still play in boosting welfare in society, particularly in Africa.
I've put together an introductory video for the blog - please take a look.
discussing Africa's potential pre-departure, with Goldman Sach's chief Economist, Jim O'Neil.
Discussing the Economic Cycle with students from the African Leadership Academy in Jo-burg, SA.
Is education the key to Africa's long-term growth? Kitwe, Zambia