PEDL Synthesis Paper Series

PEDL Synthesis Paper No. 1 | Special Economic Zones: Lessons from the Global Experience

Special economic zones (SEZs) or industrial parks can be an effective instrument to promote industrialization and structural transformation, but only when implemented properly in the right context. More than 50 years of experience with special export zones yields a mixed picture. There are notable successes, particularly in Asia and Latin America, and disappointments, more common in Sub Saharan Africa. This uneven record fuels a debate about the rationale and justification for using SEZs as an instrument for economic development. What are the global lessons from the use of SEZs in the broader effort to achieve structural transformation? Are the zones effective in promoting private-sector development? What are the risks of promoting SEZs in low-income countries, and what strategies will enable developing countries to minimise those risks and harness the power of SEZs to stimulate growth? This paper by Douglas Zhihua Zeng (2016) addresses these questions, and sheds light on the key issues for policymakers in developing countries.


PEDL Synthesis Paper No. 2 | Chinese Investment in Africa: How Much do we Know?

There is a widespread belief that China plays a fundamental role in African economies, but few rigorous empirical studies to back up this view. Many reports describe China’s engagement with Africa as “neoimperialism” and “authoritarian capitalism”, exploiting natural resources and local labour while undermining democracy. A growing demand for natural resources in China is also credited with boosting growth across the continent, especially in Africa’s resource-rich countries. In this paper, Brautigam, Diao, McMillan and Silver (2017) present a more balanced and data-driven view on what we know about Chinese investment in Africa and what it means for growth. They use official Chinese data to examine the patterns of Chinese engagement in Africa for the period 1998 to 2015. Importantly, these data show large gaps between planned and realised investment. The authors distinguish between these, and focus only on realised investments. The data indicate that China’s influence in Africa is much smaller than is generally believed, though its engagement on the continent is increasing. Chinese investment in Africa, while less extensive than often assumed, has the potential to generate jobs and development on the continent.