III Annual Conference 2018

hosted by the University of Cape Town

Belmont Sq conference centre, Cape Town


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How can we better understand the unemployment-inequality nexus and explore effective and scalable solutions for Africa?   

There has been a close relationship between trends in unemployment and inequality in Africa in recent years - with both remaining extremely high. Unemployment is top development challenge for many African policy makers. With the youngest population in the world, the African continent can only expect greater pressure on its labour markets, as hundreds of millions of young Africans begin to explore development and growth opportunities across and beyond their communities.  

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  • What are the key drivers of inequalities in labour markets in Africa?
  • How can the labour markets offer effective solutions to widening economic and social inequalities?
  • What solutions lie beyond the labour market?

We are convening the International Inequalities Institute Annual Conference to explore these key issues with academics, policy makers, activists, and journalists from Africa and beyond. The Conference will feature multiple, dynamic formats for meaningful dialogue and networking among peers to devise and take back effective and actionable solutions to the growing inequality across Africa.

Our attendees will also be invited to the presentation of the Action for Equity Award, which rewards innovative actions to address inequality, celebrating and supporting the work of truly inspirational groups. This year the prize is looking for organisations working in South Africa to reduce the impact of the inequalities caused by the labour market.

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This promises to be a fantastic opportunity to engage with experts and social change leaders around inequality in African labour markets around the latest research and insights from grassroots and policy work to commit to real and lasting change.


Register to attend below:

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Africa and the world

09.00 - 10.30

The opening session will present an overview of African development and inequality issues; from the impact of globalisation to the impact on Africa's youth. 

Speakers will include:

  • Prof. Ernest Aryeetey
  • Trevor Manuel
  • Najwah Allie-Edris (chair)

Labour markets in Africa

10.30 - 12.30

Exploring key labour market issues, especially as they impact youth. This session will focus on addressing the questions: Why is productivity so low in many African countries? What can be done about it? What is constraining participation in the labour market?

With respect to each theme, the session should provide an overview of what is happening, what policies are in place and their impact, and discussing any promising initiatives and recommendations.

Speakers will include:

  • Fundi Tshazibana
  • Sipho Mthathi
  • Eleanor du Plooy
  • Phamhidzai Bamu-Chipunza
  • Caroline Skinner
  • Hilma Mote
  • Joel Netchitenzhe

Pathways to Inclusive African development – industrialisation and agriculture

14.00 - 15.30

There are many potential solutions to un(der)employment in Africa, with the debate often focussing on whether to concentrate efforts developing the urban, industrial sector, or to focus on encouraging agricultural growth.

The session will explore the tensions and complementarities between the imperatives to industrialise and to develop agriculture, as well as touching on the opportunities for 'green industrialisation'.

Speakers will include:

  • Carlos Lopes
  • Betty Maima
  • Saliem Fakir
  • Gaylor Mortmasson Clair
  • Ruth Hall
  • Edson Mpuisi
  • Alan Hirsch (chair)

After exploring the problems, and unpacking current policy solutions, the final session of the day will examine and discuss a number of  key emerging ideas and interventions to advance equity and inclusion in Africa, especially in relation to aspects of increasing importance in Africa’s present and future.

Speakers will include:

  • Edgar Pieterse
  • Olugbenga Adesida 
  • Fred Alucheli 
  • More names tba

New ideas and solutions

16.00 - 17.30



It all started when…

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