Economics of Late Development and Industrialization: Putting Gebrehiwot Baykedgn (1886-1919) in Context

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During the last few decades, developing countries have been pushed by international economic institutions and developed countries to effectively abandon promotion of industrialization and structural transformation as a key developmental agenda. In addition, the ‘development’ debate of recent decades has tended to focus solely on internal factors as if external economic forces are always benign. Within this context, this paper analyzes the key ideas of a pioneer African development economist Gebrehiwot Baykedagn (GHB) (1886-1919), traces their lineages and considers their current relevance with a view to draw back attention to structural transformation and industrialization, and the type of external economic relation that facilitates this process. In brief, for GHB, the main keys to economic development are the creation, accumulation and use of knowledge and skill, technology, innovation and technical change. The means to do this is through deliberate and comprehensive set of state directed, synergistic interventions in areas such as infrastructure development, human development and education, promotion of technology adoption and innovation, internal market expansion, financial sector development and import protection. Based on historical and theoretical evidence, this paper argues that the main ideas of GHB and his colleagues are still valid and relevant for today’s developmental context.

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