A policy dialogue, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Cape Town, South Africa

Nairobi, Kenya  

Research Lab

An independent research partner to African countries.

  • About QGRL

  • QGRL Team

  • Advisory Board

  • QGRL News

  • QGRL Articles

  • Overview

    Quantum Global Research Lab is an independent research partner to African countries. Its mission is to lead innovation and excellence in the delivery of bottom-up econometric models of African economies that are embedded in African realities. The Lab advances original thinking and novel insights on the economics of inclusive development in Africa.


    By accumulating new trans-disciplinary data and modelling capabilities, the Research Lab works with African countries to co-produce macro-economic models that take into account African realities, and, in turn, lead to new discoveries and opportunities for policy innovations and sustainable investments by African Sovereigns.


    The Research Lab implements its activities through its global office in Switzerland and regional offices in African countries, and in partnerships with like-minded institutions and individuals globally.


    As an independent research partner to African Sovereigns, the Research Lab is poised to deliver unbiased, novel insights on African economies as well as best in class macro-economic policy analysis and econometric modelling that will support the development of innovative economic policy and sustainable investments by African Sovereigns. The Lab also relies on strategic partnerships with a world class network of experts and institutions.

    Management & Board of Directors

    Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Head of Research Lab

    Prof. Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Head of Research Lab

    Prof. Ncube is a renowned industry expert in macroeconomics, development economics and finance. With a PhD in Economics(Mathematical Finance) from University of Cambridge and more than 25 years of work experience, he has worked for a variety of renowned educational & research institutions and investment companies, including serving as the former Chairman of the Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Economic Development of the World Economic Forum. Before joining Quantum Global Research Lab, Prof. Ncube was the Chief Economist and Vice President of the African Development Bank Group for five years where he played an active role in guiding the Bank’s strategic direction, economic positioning, and visibility. He is Chairman of the African Economic Research Consortium(AERC) and Board member of Global Development Network(GDN) and Royal Africa Society(RAS). He has been Lecturer in Finance at London School of Economics(LSE), Professor of Finance and Dean of Wits Business School, and Dean of Wits Faculty of Commerce Law and Management, and Professor of Public Policy at Oxford University, Blavatnik School of Government. He has also authored several books and research papers including the Financial Markets and Monetary Policy in Africa, 2009, Mathematical Finance, 2010, and the Monetary Policy and the Economy in South Africa, 2013, Quantitative Easing and its Impact in US, UK, Japan, and Europe, 2014 and Global Growth and Financial Spillovers, 2015. His work has been published in international journals such as the Journal of Econometrics, Journal of Banking and Finance, Mathematical Finance, Applied Financial Economics, Journal of African Economies, World Economics, among others.
    Dr. Thomas Ladner, Chairman of the Board

    Dr. Thomas Ladner, Chairman of the Board

    Dr. Thomas Ladner is Attorney at Law with a Master's degree and a Doctorate in law (Dr. iur.) from Switzerland’s University of St. Gallen. He is a member of the Swiss Bar Association and a senior counsel with MeyerLustenberger Lachenal, one of Switzerland’s pre-eminent law firms. Rated among Switzerland’s most influential business lawyers by the respected business journal Bilanz, Dr. Ladner has enjoyed a long and distinguished career supervising assorted high level mergers, acquisitions and private equity deals. A corporate governance expert, Dr. Ladner is now an investor and strategic adviser with seats on a variety of Boards. He was instrumental in the development of various blue ribbon Swiss and German business networks including Club zum Rennweg, Entrepreneurs' Roundtable, ZURICH.MINDS Foundation and the Griffith Club meanwhile he also sits on the Board of the Swiss Management Association, the largest organization for managers and board members in Switzerland.
    Dr. Martin Neese, Member of the Board

    Dr. Martin Neese, Member of the Board

    Dr. Martin Neese, one of Switzerland’s most senior lawyers, sits on the Boards of five of the Group’s businesses: Alternative Investments, Private Wealth, Investment Management, Corporate Services and Research Lab. A founding partner of the highly regarded law firm - Neese, Hagmann Stalder – Dr. Neese holds a Master's degree, an LL.M and a Ph.D. from the University of Zurich Law School and was admitted to the Bar in 1988. With legal expertise extending into diverse areas including commercial, corporate, contract, financial markets and economic criminal law, Dr. Neese chairs the VQF Self-regulating Organization in Financial Services, is President of FORUM-SRO and sits on the Board of SRO SVV Swiss Insurance Association. With a raft of additional long standing affiliations including the ZWK Zug Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce Germany-Switzerland and the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, Dr. Neese is also a qualified mediator and a published legal scholar.
  • QGRL Macro-Modelling Core Team

    Dr. Fernando Barbi, Senior Macroeconomist

    Dr. Fernando Barbi, Senior Macroeconomist

    Dr Fernando Barbi is a macroeconomist with extensive modelling experience in Brazilian economy. Before joining QGRL he held the position of Head of Economic Modelling Division at the Ministry of Finance of Brazil. At QGRL he is dedicated to modelling African economies and to the establishment of a large scale macroeconomic database on African countries. Fernando has a Ph.D. in Economics from Fundaçao Getulio Vargas (FGV), São Paulo, Brazil. His research areas encompass Monetary Policy, DSGE (Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium) models and Bayesian Financial Econometrics. At FGV he lectured to graduate programs and advised many theses, two of which won best thesis awards. He has extensive project management experience in the ITC sector.
    Dr. Seedwell Hove, Macroeconomist - African Region

    Dr. Seedwell Hove, Macroeconomist - African Region

    Dr Seedwell Hove is a Macroeconomist with a wealth of experience in asset portfolio management, investment policy analysis, macroeconomic analysis and management, and practical experience in dynamic macroeconomic modelling (dynamic stochastic general equilibrium - DSGE - models) of African Economies. His strong academic background includes a BSc (First Class) and a MSc from the University of Zimbabwe, and a PhD in Economics from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, with focus on macroeconomics, as well as teaching and research activities in the academia. Past experiences comprise stints at both the Zimbabwe Development Bank and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. Before joining Quantum Global Research Lab, Dr Hove was an Economist in the Macroeconomics and Fiscal Management Global Practice at the World Bank. His research interests are in macroeconomic dynamics, macroeconomic modelling and macroeconomic policy management - monetary, fiscal and exchange rate management in developing and emerging market economies. He has published several research papers in leading economics journals. At QGRL, he is focusing on developing macroeconomic models of African economies as tools for economic development and investment decision making, and establishing large scale economic database on African Economies.
    Dr Jeremy Wakeford, Macroeconomist / Econometrician

    Dr Jeremy Wakeford, Macroeconomist / Econometrician

    Dr Jeremy Wakeford holds Masters Degrees in Economics from the Universities of Cape Town and Cambridge (UK), and obtained his PhD in Sustainable Development from Stellenbosch University, South Africa. His research interests focus on energy and sustainability transitions and the Green Economy. Before joining QGRL, he was an Extraordinary Senior Lecturer in the School of Public Leadership at Stellenbosch University, where he co-ordinated a module on Globalisation, Governance and Civil Society that is offered as part of the Master’s in Sustainable Development. Dr Wakeford was formerly a Senior Lecturer in the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town, where he taught courses on econometrics, monetary policy and development economics. His publications include the recent book "Preparing for Peak Oil in South Africa", several book chapters and journal articles, as well as numerous conference papers and research reports. He is co-editor of a forthcoming book entitled "Greening the South African Economy". Dr. Wakeford has also served as a consultant to international organisations, several national government departments in South Africa, and a range of private sector clients.
    Ornélie Manzambi, Research Associate

    Ornélie Manzambi, Research Associate

    Ornélie Manzambi has a Bachelor of Sciences in Management and a Master of Sciences in Economics, both from the Faculty of Business and Economics, HEC Lausanne, Switzerland. She attended an exchange program in 2011 at Iowa State University (USA). Before joining QGRL, she was a Research Assistant at ETH Zürich, Department of Law and Economics.
  • Advisory Board

    Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais, Chairman

    Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais, Chairman

    Jean-Claude, the founder of Quantum Global, graduated from the Swiss University of Fribourg with an MA in Management Studies before joining first Deloitte & Touche and later Abegglen Management Consultants. Now well established as an international entrepreneur, he has enjoyed remarkable success in a variety of sectors. Jean-Claude is also the founder of the African Innovation Foundation which is an increasingly influential Swiss-based not-for-profit organization which sponsors numerous initiatives aimed at rewarding, developing and encouraging business innovation across the African Continent. He is a Board Member of the Zurich.Minds Foundation, a community of leaders in science, the arts and business, and also sits on the Advisory Boards of both the University of Cape Town’s Graduate Business School and the banking and international finance think-tank OMFIF. On 27 August 2014, Jean-Claude was elected member of the International Board of Foundation of Globethics.net, a leading global network of individuals and institutions aimed at promoting ethical corporate and social practices.
    Dr. André Schneider

    Dr. André Schneider

    Dr. André Schneider is a former Managing Director and COO of the World Economic Forum. A Computer Science Ph.D. and a distinguished classical musician, he previously established IBM’s European IT consulting practice in Geneva. A highly regarded public speaker and consultant on the international business circuit, André brings outstanding international business expertise and specialist knowledge of Chinese and Middle Eastern affairs.
    David Marsh

    David Marsh

    David Marsh is a distinguished commentator on global economics and a former investment banker. Following a senior editorial career with the Financial Times, David embarked on a career in business. This led him first to a successful 10-year spell with UK financial companies Robert Fleming, Hawkpoint and the management consultant Droege and then to the London & Oxford Group. David is co-founder and Board Member of the German-British Forum and Managing Director and co-founder of OMFIF, an independent research group which facilitates strategic dialogue between Central Banks, Sovereign Wealth Funds, regulators and private sector financial groups. David is also a member of the Advisory Boards of the Centre for European Reform and the Institute for Corporate Cultural Affairs.
    Nick Butler

    Nick Butler

    A Cambridge University Economics graduate, Nick is a Visiting Professor at King’s College, London University and Chair of the King’s Policy Institute. A former Group Vice President, Strategy & Policy Development at BP and a Senior Policy Adviser to Tony Blair’s UK Government, he is an accomplished international energy sector expert. As a respected energy sector commentator, he is a regular contributor to the pages of the Financial Times and is currently the author of the paper’s highly regarded energy blog.
    Ruth Metzler-Arnold

    Ruth Metzler-Arnold

    Ruth Metzler-Arnold is a former Federal Councillor, Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police, and a previous Vice-President of the Swiss Government. She has also enjoyed a prominent business career including a lengthy spell with PwC and senior roles with Novartis as Group Head, Investor Relations and General Counsel and member of the company’s Executive Board (France). A Certified Public Accountant with a Master of Law degree from the University of Fribourg, she is Chairperson of Switzerland Global Enterprise with seats on the Boards of leading businesses and institutions including AXA Winterthur Insurance Company, Buehler Technology Group and University of St.Gallen.
    Célestin Monga

    Célestin Monga

    Célestin Monga is an internationally recognized economist. Currently Director of the Oxford University Press Handbook of Africa and Economics, he has held various Board and senior executive positions in academia, financial services and international development. A former Board director of the internationally acclaimed Sloan School of Management, he has also served on the academic faculties of both Boston University and the University of Bordeaux. A graduate of MIT, Harvard, and the universities of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne, Bordeaux and Pau, he was the Economics editor for the 5-volume New Encyclopedia of Africa (Charles Scribner’s, 2007) and his published works have been translated into multiple languages.
    Ernst Welteke

    Ernst Welteke

    Ernst Welteke is a former Governor of the Central Bank of Germany (Deutsche Bundesbank) between 1999 and 2004 and a Member of the ECB Governing Council during the initial five years of European Economic and Monetary Union. He has represented the Central Bank of Germany in the International Monetary Fund and now sits on the board of several banks. He brings nearly 20 years of Central Bank, monetary policy and international financial markets expertise.
    Prof. Kevin Chika Urama

    Prof. Kevin Chika Urama

    Prof. Kevin Chika Urama holds a First Class Honors degree and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He also gained a Master of Philosophy degree, with distinction, and a Ph.D. in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. A 2002-3 winner of the James Claydon Prize for the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis in economics or related subjects while studying at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge; he was most recently the Executive Director of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS). Prof. Urama was named the Technology Executive of the Year by the Africa Technology Awards in 2012. An Extra-Ordinary Professor in the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Professor Urama is also an Adjunct Professor at the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, University of Murdoch, Western Australia, and a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). He serves on several international and intergovernmental scientific panels, advisory boards, and editorial boards of scientific journals, and has published on various subjects of economics, public policy and innovation.
  • QGRL macroeconomist discusses energy-food-water nexus research on CNBC Africa

    Zug, 17 March 2016 - Dr Jeremy Wakeford spoke to CNBC Africa on 17 March about the key findings of his recently published energy-food-water nexus research project funded by the UK’s Department for International Development, which he had led in collaboration with the Sustainability Institute in South Africa. In the interview Dr Wakeford discusses how the energy-food-water systems are interconnected and why treating these systems independently can result in critical system linkages and vulnerabilities being underappreciated. Wakeford recommends a sense of urgency to deal with the escalating threats to human welfare and proposes a pragmatic set of policy responses and technical measures aimed at expanding access to basic necessities, boosting resource use efficiency and preserving essential ecosystem services.

    Watch full interview


    1 March 2016 - QGRL Macroeconomist, Dr Jeremy Wakeford, co-edits book on South African green economy

    Zug, 1 March 2016 - QGRL Macroeconomist, Dr Jeremy Wakeford, is the co-editor of a book published this week by the University of Cape Town Press, entitled Greening the South African Economy: Scoping the Issues, Challenges and Opportunities.

    When South Africa adopted the Green Economy Accord it joined many other governments which were adopting policies to support sustainable socio-economic development through green economy investments. However, the South African economy remains reliant on the depletion of natural resources, which places great strain on the environment.

    The authors of this book argue that substantial greening of the economy is essential for a transition to a sustainable society. To achieve a green economy means a coordinated approach to making all sectors more resource-efficient, less carbon-intensive and more restorative of natural systems. It means social reconstruction to reduce poverty and inequality, and create decent livelihoods and green jobs that are environmentally sustainable and socially just. It means forming new infrastructures — for electricity, transport, ecology, the urban environment and waste management. It means shifting the flows of finance. It means social activism.

    This book argues for a review of South Africa’s existing economic growth model. It assesses the challenges to and possibilities for a transition to a sustainable future.

    21 January 2016 - QGRL researcher leads completion of research report on the energy-food-water nexus

    21 January 2016, Zug - In collaboration with the Sustainability Institute in South Africa, a Quantum Global Research Lab (QGRL) partner institution, QGRL macroeconomist Dr Jeremy Wakeford led a research project entitled “Mitigating risks and vulnerabilities in the energy-food-water nexus in developing countries”. The year-long project was funded by the UK’s Department for International Development.


    The report analyses global nexus interconnections (such as the dependence of food systems on energy at every stage of the food value chain) and identifies key drivers, which include economic and population growth, resource depletion, environmental degradation, climate change and globalisation. The study also delved into more detail by analysing the nexus in three case study countries (Malawi, South Africa and Cuba), which represent different levels and types of economic development and ‘socio-metabolic regimes’ (agrarian, industrial and agro-ecological).


    A wide range of mitigation strategies, policies and measures are put forward that can help developing country governments to manage the nexus more effectively. These include ways to strengthen institutions, governance and policy coherence, as well as technical measures to boost resilience and sustainability of energy, food and water systems and to accelerate a transition to green economies.


    Read report summary

    Download full report from the DFID website

    10 November 2015 - Quantum Global Research Lab contributes to the “UNESCO Science Report: Towards 2030”

    10 November 2015 - The UNESCO has recently published its ”UNESCO Science Report: towards 2030”. Launched on the 10th November 2015 at a reception at the UNESCO headquarters attended by more than 300 delegates and government representatives in Paris, the 800-page report is the most comprehensive ever published in the series. It covers 189 countries and maps the state of science and innovation around the world.

    Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, Managing Director of the Quantum Global Research Lab, has led the chapter on East and Central Africa. He was part of a selected group of 60 contributing authors, stemming from 40 different nations, who had the privilege to take part in this UNESCO project.

    The report is presently available in English and its Executive Summary has been translated into all UN languages. Language editions of the full report are being planned, including a Chinese version.

    Download full report

    1 October 2015 - Solving Africa's Energy Challenges by 2015

    As the world prepares for the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 21) in Paris, the discourse on the nexus among energy access, economic growth and carbon dioxide emissions – the major cause of global climate change - remains a central policy issue.


    By Prof. Kevin Chika Urama


    Access to modern energy services is crucial for economic growth. It also secures access to basic human needs and human security, ultimately supporting the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs). While the increasing use of energy-dense fossil fuels has underpinned much of the overall increase in productivity over the past century in both industry and agriculture globally, Africa is still mainly reliant on traditional biomass fuels. This causes hundreds of thousands of deaths each year due to indoor air pollution. Lack of access to electricity denies two-thirds of Africa’s citizens a decent quality of life and retards economic growth, employment creation and investment. And yet, Africa’s poorest people list among those who pay the world’s highest prices for energy.


    Increasing access to modern energy services for meeting basic household needs in Africa could yield substantial improvements in human welfare at relatively low costs. As a matter of justice, African countries deserve to provide light, power and a sustainable source of livelihoods to their people, especially those at the bottom of the pyramid who have been left behind in the development story.


    While Africa’s historical and current contributions to global CO2 emissions are very low, the carbon footprint of the continent could increase rapidly if the continent follows the fossil fuel intensive path taken by more developed countries. But as the continent most vulnerable to climate variability and change, charting a low-carbon pathway is in Africa’s long-term development interest. At the same time, increasing access to energy services will improve Africa’s capacity to adapt to climate change, which is already negatively affecting socio-economic development.


    Africa has abundant yet underutilized renewable energy resources. The continent should seize the opportunity to capitalize on the global shift in energy technologies and avoid lock-in to carbon-intensive technologies. International cooperation and transformative actions are required to effectively address Africa’s energy challenges to ensure that a leapfrogging to clean energy technologies can happen sooner, rather than later. Experience has shown that the externality costs of the principle of “grow first and clean up later” are economically, socially and environmentally unsustainable.


    Africa’s policy objective should be to enable the continent to achieve “climate-smart” socio-economic development without slowing down the pace of growth. The transformation of existing energy systems requires pragmatic choices of suitable energy mixes that harness the comparative resource advantages of countries to meet economic development needs, while at the same time keeping GHG emissions in check. This is achievable. Our political leaders, energy stakeholders and citizens have the civil duty to act together to make it happen.


    A full version of this article is available at: www.qgrl.ch

    14 January 2015 - QGRL and Murdoch University sign Memorandum of Understanding

    Zug, Switzerland - On Wednesday, 14 January 2015, the Quantum Global Research Lab (QGRL) and the Murdoch University jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This agreement formalizes the collaboration efforts between the two institutions in the areas of education, research and training. The MoU was executed during a signing ceremony held at the Quantum Global Research Lab offices in Zug, Switzerland. Prof. David Morrison, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research & Development, and Mr. David Doepel, Chair of the Africa Research Group, attended the signing for the Murdoch University. Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, Managing Director and Head of Research, and Dr Fernando Barbi, Senior Macroeconomist, represented the Quantum Global Research Lab.

    The purpose of this collaboration is to enhance cooperation, interaction and knowledge sharing between QGRL and Murdoch University in areas related to the development of novel insights into macroeconomic policies for inclusive growth and development in emerging economies. The initial focus of the collaboration will be on Africa.

    Immediate next steps aim at establishing joint research programs and training programs for African Sovereigns. Several co-hosted Ph.D. studentships will be granted aiming at supporting the joint research effort and the development of innovative macroeconomic models for selected African economies. The QGRL-Murdoch collaboration will also entail opportunities for knowledge exchange through staff sharing and mutual engagement in the research activities of both institutions.

    Commenting on the signing of the MoU Prof. Kevin Chika Urama said: “It is a great pleasure and privilege to start this institutional engagement with Murdoch University, a University with requisite skills and experiences in key sectors of the African economy including sustainable agriculture and the extractive industries. QGRL hopes to leverage skills and experiences from Murdoch University and other Partners to advance original thinking and novel insights on the economics of inclusive development in Africa. We recognise that we cannot possibly know everything, neither can we employ all the smart people out there. Supporting the research of our global and regional offices will be a College of Experts working in Partner Institutions such as Murdoch University and others.”

    Prof. David Morrison said: “The signing of the MoU with the Quantum Global Research Lab is a very exciting development for our Africa Research within Murdoch University given the area of focus of the QGRL. It will offer us the opportunity to translate our accumulated knowledge into practice in our various areas of strength such as Public Policy, Agriculture, Mining, and Inclusive Development Policy, and to have a significant impact, not only in Africa, but also in other countries around the globe.”  


    About the Quantum Global Research Lab

    Quantum Global Research Lab is an independent research partner to African countries. Its mission is to lead innovation and excellence in the delivery of bottom-up econometric models of African economies that are embedded in African realities. The Lab will advance original thinking and novel insights on the economics of inclusive development in Africa.

    By accumulating new trans-disciplinary data and modelling capabilities, the Research Lab will work with African countries to co-produce macro-economic models that take into account African realities, and, in turn, lead to new discoveries and opportunities for policy innovations and sustainable investments by African Sovereigns.

    The Research Lab will implement its activities through its global office in Switzerland and regional offices in African countries, and in partnerships with like-minded institutions and individuals globally.


    About the Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia

    Murdoch is a research-led university with reputed, outstanding, world-class researchers in selected areas of knowledge. Its researchers engage with significant social and scientific challenges of our time that include food security, inclusive development, health futures, and public policy and governance. Murdoch aims at making a difference through Translational Science by capitalizing on the combined efforts of its scientists and social scientists to translate knowledge into practice to make this a better and more sustainable world.

    Recognised as one of Australia's leading research institutions with over two thirds of its research effort being recognised as at world standard or better by independent assessors in the Australian Research Council Excellence in Research Assessment (ERA), the university currently has more than 25,000 students and 2,000 staff working together, exploring new ways of thinking and making discoveries, and is proud of its international reputation for excellence in teaching, research and student satisfaction. Students are enrolled in over 200 undergraduate and postgraduate courses across a range of disciplines.

    Murdoch University is also a member of the Innovative Research Universities group of Australia - a collection of young, vibrant research universities created in the 1970s.


    For further information please contact:

    For the Quantum Global Research Lab:

    Mark Morley, Head of Communications

    +41 (79) 870 7039


    For the Murdoch University:

    Jane McNamara, Manager, Media & Communications

    +61 (8) 9360 2985

    8 December 2014 - Prof. Kevin Urama appointed a member of the GGKP Advisory Committee

    8 December 2014 - Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) Steering Committee has appointed Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, as a member of the GGKP Advisory Committee. Co-founded and co-steered by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Bank, the GGKP has since expanded to a global partnership of over 30 international organizations, research institutes and think tanks. The GGKP helps to identify major knowledge gaps in green growth theory and practice; it addresses those gaps by promoting collaboration and coordinated research and by using world-class knowledge management and communications tools to give practitioners and policymakers the analysis, guidance, tools and data necessary to support a green economy transition.

    Read more

    Press release

    8-9 December 2014 - Prof. Urama at Africa Forum on Inclusive Development 2014 panel discussion

    8 - 9 December 2014, Nairobi, Kenya - Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, participated as a panelist in the Africa Forum on Inclusive Development 2014, which was co-hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Rockefeller Foundation. His Excellency, Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta C.G.H, President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kenya opened the forum, which brought together thought leaders, government officials, private sector actors and development practitioners in Africa and elsewhere to deliberate on pathways for inclusive growth in Africa.

    Read more

    News Coverage Africa Forum on Inclusive Development 2014

    5 December 2014 - Dr. Fernando Barbi and Prof. Mark Swilling lead SWF analyst delegation on study visit to DBSA

    5 December 2014 - Dr. Fernando Barbi, Senior Macroeconomist at QGRL, and Prof. Mark Swilling, a QGRL Partner from Stellenbosch University, led a delegation of Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) analysts on a study visit to the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). The event took place as part of QGRL’s ongoing training program for SWF investment analysts. Lecturers included leading experts such as Moe Shaik, the Head of DBSA’s international unit, and Mohale Rakgate, General Manager for Project Preparation.

    10-19 November 2014 - QGRL develops Executive Training Course for Inclusive Growth in Africa

    10–19 November 2014, Cape Town, South Africa - QGRL has developed an Executive Training Course on Macroeconomic Policy Analyses and Investment Decision-Making for Inclusive Growth in Africa. The training course has been designed to attend the needs of Sovereign Wealth Fund analysts, Ministries of Finance, National Reserve & Commercial Banks, National Planning Commissions and Development Practitioners in emerging countries. The inaugural session of the course is being hosted in phases, and in collaboration with QGRL’s partners in Switzerland, South Africa and Nigeria. The training is intended as an annual event to support African governments and practitioners in better understanding and transitioning toward inclusive growth and equitable societies.

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    6–7 November 2014 - Prof. Urama presents keynote paper at UCL Sustainable Communities & Grand Challenge Symposium 2014

    6–7 November 2014, London, United Kingdom - Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, presented a keynote paper at the University College London’s BHP Billiton Sustainable Communities & UCL Grand Challenge Symposium 2014. His keynote paper on “Stewardship for Planet Earth: Challenges and Opportunities in a World Hooked on Growth”, calls for a social-ecological framework (model) for sustaining life in a rapidly changing world, by invoking an ethics of inclusive societies, responsible planning and management of the Earth’s resources for a more equitable world. He describes the need for rethinking economic development, macroeconomic models and policy planning as urgent, arguing the that the repeated “bubbles and bursts” in the global economy are simple but very strong signals that the carrying capacities of the Earth’s systems are increasingly overstretched by an ever growing obsession for accumulation of financial capital to the detriment of social and ecological systems. He concludes that human beings in contemporary societies might be acting in self-belief that “markets”, “technologies” and “innovations” created by humans can solve all the problems associated with oxymoronic growth. A technology enthusiast himself, he called for caution and humility with regard to how far we might believe we could stretch the social and biophysical systems without causing irreparable and irreversible damage. Drawing analogy to the dinosaurs of the Ice Age, he describes the current human belief in human capacity to deploy new technologies (such as geo-engineering, nanotechnologies, etc.,), innovative market instruments and/or not so innovative but increasingly popular monetary policy tools (such as quantities easing!) to ensure infinite growth by encouraging resource consumption beyond our means, as unsustainable strategies that might lead to human extinction. While rational thinking might lead to different conclusions on the subject, the risks of human extinction has become too highly unpredictable; a precautionary approach to stewardship for planet Earth might just be the most rational path to follow. Mounting scientific evidence on climate change, resource depletion and exceedance of planetary (and ethical) boundaries suggest that unless new forms of growth are found, we, humans (like dinosaurs) might not be here to tell the story of how self-belief in human capacity can lead to extinction.

    There is an urgent need to evolve new inclusive models of economic growth that actively shape the trajectories of change in a coupled social, ecological and economic system at local-to-global scales to enhance sustainable economic growth, ecosystem resilience and social equity. Only this can promise sustainable human well-being for the current and future generations, he concludes.

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    3–6 November 2014 - Prof. Kevin Urama participates in the 15th session of the IRP

    3–6 November 2014, Rotterdam, the Netherlands - Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, participated in the 15th session of the International Resource Panel (IRP). The IRP is a science-policy platform created by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and a number of Member States to provide decision makers and other interested parties with independent and authoritative scientific assessment on the use of natural resources and its environmental impact. Prof. Urama is a member of the IRP participating in the preparation of a number of assessment reports with a focus on decoupling economic growth from resource use and impacts.

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    30 October 2014 - Jean-Claude Bastos and Prof. Urama discuss climate change at Africa Progress Panel

    30 October 2014, Geneva, Switzerland - Invited by Mr. Kofi Annan, Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, and Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, Chairman of the Quantum Global Advisory Board, were invited to the Expert Consultation meeting of the Africa Progress Panel hosted in Geneva on 30 July 2014. The meeting brought together leading experts and practitioners to deliberate on the theme of the 2015 Africa progress report CLIMATE CHANGE: An African agenda for green, low-carbon development. Professor Urama provided two lead papers for the deliberation, focusing on innovative climate finance and transitions to low carbon development in the energy sector.

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    27 October 2014 - Prof. Kevin Urama participated in the innovaBRICS & beyond 2014 conference in London

    27 October 2014, London, United Kingdom - Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, participated in the innovaBRICS & beyond 2014 conference, hosted in London, UK. The meeting brought together leading innovators and entrepreneurs to deliberate on disruptive innovations, and how they are changing the world. Other delegates at the meeting included: His Excellency Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa; Gerard Lyons, Chief Economic Advisor to the Mayor of London; Francis Gurry, Director General, WIPO;  Prof Marcos Troyjo, Director BRICLab, Columbia University; Alec Russell, International News Editor, Financial Times; Sir John Peace, Chairman, Standard Chartered Plc; David Smoot, CEO, Dubai International Capital;  Colin Coleman, Managing Director, Goldman Sachs South Africa; Jaime Gornsztejn, Managing Director, BNDES UK (Brazil National Development Bank), amongst others.

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    23 October 2014 - Prof. Kevin Chika Urama discusses institutional partnership with potential partners in Nigeria

    23 October 2014 - Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, discussed an institutional partnership with potential partners in Nigeria at the University of Abuja, Nigeria. Represented at the meeting were the Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja, the Head of the Department of Economics, University of Abuja, and delegates from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

    5 September 2014 - Prof. Kevin Urama joins dialogue with African Sovereign Wealth Fund Managers at the Chatham House

    5 September 2014, Chatham House, London - Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL, joined Quantum Global group managers to co-host a dialogue with African Sovereign Wealth Fund Managers, international experts and Private Investment Fund Managers at the Chatham House on 5 September 2014. At the meeting, which was deliberated under Chatham House rules, were discussed the evolution of SWFs globally and, specifically, how demand for Africa’s SWFs should be managed in a changing world.

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  • 21 October 2016 - Building resilience in the energy-food-water nexus

    In an increasingly resource-constrained world, the energy-food-water ‘nexus’ – defined as the interconnections among these three systems that are vital for human welfare – is emerging as increasingly important in the discourse on sustainable development. Treating energy, food and water systems independently of each other can result in critical system linkages and vulnerabilities being underappreciated and can possibly lead to the formulation and implementation of ineffectual or even counterproductive policies and measures.

    Researchers, policymakers and the international development community need to understand the dynamic interactions occurring within the nexus so that they can identify the key vulnerabilities and risks facing developing countries in terms of water, food and energy security. This will enable them to formulate strategies and policies to mitigate these nexus risks and to promote economic efficiency, social equity and environmental sustainability in food, energy and water provision to their citizens.

    Nexus linkages, drivers and risks

    Energy, food and water systems need to be understood in terms of their entire value chains, including production, processing, storage, distribution, consumption and waste disposal stages and their supporting infrastructures. Nexus analysis highlights the interconnections and interdependencies at all of these life cycle stages. For example, energy inputs – primarily petroleum fuels and electricity – are required at all stages of the food system value chain, including pumping water for irrigation; powering tractors for tillage and harvesters; production of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides to produce crops and antibiotics to treat livestock; refrigeration; food processing; transporting and distributing food products; cooking; and fuel for transporting food waste to disposal sites.

    Energy inputs are also needed at various stages of the water system value chain including extraction from lakes, rivers and aquifers; desalination; water treatment; construction of dams, reservoirs and pipelines; pumping for distribution to consumers; and waste-water treatment. Water, in turn, is essential for agricultural production and food processing, and for the extraction and processing of fossil fuels, hydropower generation and cooling in thermal power plants. A number of agricultural crops are converted into bioenergy, which also depends on large amounts of water. Furthermore, certain energy industries – especially fossil fuels – and high-input agricultural production can have adverse impacts on water and soil quality.


    Several major global and local drivers are placing increasing pressure on nexus linkages and posing growing challenges for food, energy and water security. On the demand side, these drivers include expanding populations, economic growth, rising affluence, shifting consumption patterns (generally towards greater resource intensity), urbanisation and globalisation. Supply-side drivers include the depletion of conventional fossil fuel reserves (resulting in increasing reliance on more polluting and water-intensive unconventional oil and gas resources), and the degradation of soils, fresh water supplies and ecosystems. Climate change is exerting increasing pressure on water resources and can have destabilising impacts on agricultural production and certain forms of energy generation, especially hydropower. Shocks to the nexus arise principally from extreme weather events such as droughts and floods, and oil and food price spikes – which are sometimes triggered by geopolitical conflict and financial speculation.

    The main nexus-related risks to energy, food and water security vary according to countries’ levels of development. Low-income, largely agrarian economies typically have high levels of dependence on traditional biomass energy, which renders them vulnerable to deforestation, energy poverty (especially a lack of access to electricity), low-productivity rain-fed agriculture with poor nutritional outcomes and limited access to improved water sources. Droughts can have especially severe impacts in such countries. More advanced developing economies with established industrial capacity generally perform reasonably well in terms of basic energy, food and water security access and consumption levels, with the notable exception of several southern African nations that have high levels of income inequality and poverty. However, many of these middle income countries rely heavily on fossil fuels to power high-input, mechanised agriculture and industries, and complex water supply infrastructures – and are thus exposed to international oil price shocks. Many also face energy-related pollution threats to their water and soil resources.

    Policy recommendations for resilience and sustainability

    Nexus mitigation strategies should begin with efforts to build well-functioning institutions, effective governance systems and integrated policy frameworks, as these are prerequisites for the design of effective policies and the implementation of viable technical solutions to tackle nexus risks and vulnerabilities. Both vertical and horizontal coordination within governments is essential to ensure better policy coherence and effectiveness, while cooperation must be sought with stakeholders from all sectors of society to ensure sustainable and equitable governance of resources. Individual nations must devise strategies to build resilience to teleconnection impacts arising from their embeddedness in global trading systems and should engage in multilateral forums to improve international policy coordination in managing the nexus.

    Nexus interventions will be much more coherent and effective if they are designed and implemented within an overarching paradigm aimed at a transition to ‘inclusive green economies’. This involves expanding access to food, water and energy services while transforming economic systems to be more resource efficient, less carbon intensive and less damaging to the environment. A mix of policy instruments should be utilised, including public investment in infrastructure and innovation, economic incentives such as taxes and subsidies, regulatory mechanisms such as efficiency and emission standards, and education and awareness programmes.

    A wide range of technical measures can be adopted to mitigate nexus-related risks and improve energy, food and water security in developing countries. For example, an expansion of small-scale agroecological farming can help to reduce reliance on energy in agriculture. A transition to renewable energy sources – especially solar photovoltaic, wind and geothermal power – can reduce the water dependence of energy systems. Protecting and restoring ecosystems such as wetlands can help to boost water security. Reducing waste and improving efficiency is essential at all stages of the energy, food and water supply chains.

    To be sure, there are no one-size-fits-all solutions; policy responses must be sensitive to context. For example, there can be significant spatial differences in appropriate nexus mitigation strategies and policy interventions. In rural areas, the key issue is optimising land use to provide a range of services, while in urban areas the emphasis is on creating resource-efficient, low-carbon cities. The main priority for countries with a largely agrarian regime is to expand access to food, energy and water among their populations, while limiting negative impacts on ecosystems. By contrast, in countries with more developed industrial regimes that rely heavily on fossil fuels, the key nexus security challenges are to limit the vulnerability to international energy price volatility, reduce energy and resource intensity and reduce the negative impacts of fossil fuel use on soils and water resources.


    The risks inherent in energy-food-water nexus interconnections are likely to intensify in the coming decades as a result of growing demand, tightening resource constraints, and intensifying impacts of climate change. Nexus mitigation interventions will form a critical part of societal transitions toward greater resilience and sustainability in the face of global and local environmental, resource and population pressures. Policy interventions should aim to identify win-win solutions that harness synergies and maximise co-benefits across the energy-food-water nexus. Policymakers must deal with unavoidable trade-offs by assembling relevant scientific information and involving stakeholders in consultative processes to inform policy decisions that result in socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable outcomes.



    Dr Jeremy Wakeford
    Macroeconomist/Econometrician, Quantum Global Group
    Bahnhofstrasse 2, 6300 Zug, Switzerland

    13 October 2016 - MARKET OUTLOOK - Macroeconomic and Market Outlook, 4th Quarter 2016

    By Seedwell Hove



    • The global economy is showing signs of picking up, after the tumultuous start to the year and Brexit shock in June, but remains subdued. Global growth is projected at  2.4 percent in 2016
    • The global economy is projected to pick to 2.8 percent in 2017, but downside risks continues to weigh on the outlook.
    • The impact of the Brexit vote was less severe than initially envisaged, but the long term macroeconomic impact will be felt when UK finally exit the EU.  
    • The outlook for emerging market and developing economies is expected to strenghten slightly, with growth expected at 3.5 percent in 2016.
    • Monetary conditions remains loose, with ample policy stimulus in the Euro area, Japan, UK and China, stabilising global financial markets  somewhat.
    • Global trade will be sluggish in 2016, while global inflation will remain low.
    • The slowdown in China is continuing at a measured pace, with activity firming up in recent quarters due to policy support, but concerns remain.
    • Economic activity in Sub-Saharan Africa will remain less robust in 2016 due to continued external and internal headwinds.
    • Commodity prices have improved somewhat since the slump at the beginning of the year and the Brexit shock. Oil prices are projected to average about $43 per barrel in 2016 and improve to $52 per barrel in 2017. Other commodity prices are also expected to strengthen slightly
    • The outlook is subject to downside risks emanating from the forth-coming US elections in November, the general risk of de-globalisation,  a possible hike in the US interest rate in December, persistent low commodity prices, continued slowdown in China and uncertainties on the UK’s exit from the EU, following the Brexit vote, geopolitical risks, political and security risks and droughts in various countries.


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    6 October 2016 - COMMODITIES OUTLOOK, 4th quarter 2016

    By Jeremy Wakeford


    The 4th quarter Commodities Outlook provides a review of recent developments in global and African commodity markets, and presents the Short- and medium-term outlooks. It covers oil, precious and non-precious metals, and key agricultural commodities including grains, meat, beverages, materials and timber. Most commodity prices are expected to remain relatively steady at their current low levels over the coming few quarters, as global demand is expected to remain lackluster and supply adequate or in some cases in over-capacity.



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    28 September 2016 - WORKING PAPER 3: Does FDI matter for Sustainable Growth in Sub Saharan Africa?



    By Fernando C. Barbi and Celso Jose da Costa Jr




    The debate around policies to attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) assumes that it induces economic growth. Authors still debate this assumption but recent studies suggest that FDI is relevant to growth when some prerequisites are met: the existence of good infrastructure, a significant stock of human capital and deep financial markets can increase the effects of FDI. Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) keeps growing even in the absence of these conditions. Our contribution is to show the existence of a long-run positive relation between FDI and growth in the SSA region using recently developed econometric techniques that control for sample heterogeneity and capture long term relations. Using different estimation techniques we verify that FDI affects growth positively in the long run but that trade openness and government expenditures are more significant factors to explain the growth process in the region. These results suggest that policies to attract foreign investors at the expense of public income should be carefully considered as they may backfire in the long run.

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    9 September 2016 - OPINION PAPER - A variegated picture of the global economy and its spillovers



    By Prof Mthuli Ncube, Managing Director, Head of Quantum Global Research Lab


    The global economy is expected to show a modest upturn in 2016, especially the US and Japan. The UK will experience the negative effects of Brexit, as it experiences economic slowdown. The Bank of England has responded by resuming monetary easing though its bond purchase program, in order cushion the economy. Japan is hitting further quantitative easing. German, British and Japanese bonds are all yielding negative yields which points to a risk of recession. The US benchmark 10yr treasury plummeted to its lowest level of 1.35%. There has been a massive sell off of assets from Europe searching for safe haven houses. Gold and silver have recorded some of the best performance ever, increasing by 22% -26% this year. However, China is expected to experience further deceleration, which does not bode well for commodity prices. The positive global growth spillovers of a stronger US economy will be countered by negative growth spillovers from China, the recent host of the G20-leaders summit. In the face of weak growth and low inflation in Europe, and a potential recession in Germany, the European Central Bank, is implementing quantitative easing and buying bonds worth €1.74-trillion, which are keeping interest rates in negative territory and infusing cheap credit into the banking system. The deposit rate is at -0.4%, which means banks are being charged for cash overnight, and the refinancing rate, which determines the cost of credit generally, is at 0%.





    8 July 2016 - MARKET OUTLOOK - Macroeconomic and Market Outlook, 3rd Quarter 2016

    By Dr. Seedwell Hove and Dr. Jeremy Wakeford, Macroeconomists, QGRL


    • Despite the calming of conditions after a difficult start to 2016, global markets faced another wave of volatility in June, sparked by the Brexit vote.
    • The global economy is expected to remain tepid, amid downside risks affecting high income and emerging markets which could keep global growth below the projected 2.4 percent in 2016.  
    • High income economies’ growth momentum will be dampened by the Brexit shock.
    • Developing and emerging countries are facing headwinds from several factors, including: persistent low oil and other commodity prices; weak global trade amid the slowdown and rebalancing in China; tightening of financial conditions; and the Brexit vote. 
    • Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 is now projected to be less robust than initially envisaged, under the weight of both external and domestic challenges.  
    • Oil and other commodity prices have picked up in the second quarter, after a slump at the beginning of the year. Oil prices are forecast to average $43/bbl in 2016 and $52/bbl in 2017, an upward revision from the previous forecasts in April.  
    • The macroeconomic outlook is overshadowed by downside risks emanating from the slowdown in large emerging market economies, notably in China amid that economy’s rebalancing, lower commodity prices and prospects of financial tightening and possible disorderly unwinding of Brexit negotiations. African countries are also subject to risks related to political uncertainties, security threats and drought.



    5 July 2016 - OPINION PAPER - Potential implications of Brexit for African Economies


    By Dr. Seedwell Hove and Dr. Jeremy Wakeford 



    In a tense referendum, the British people voted by a narrow margin for the United Kingdom (UK) to leave the European Union (EU) on 23 June. Those in favour of rescinding membership of the EU want to have greater sovereignty and control over their economy, greater control over migration, and to make their own trade agreements. The vote was widely unexpected by the markets. This is an unprecedented development, which is likely to have significant economic, financial, social and political implications in Europe and across the world. This piece analyses the potential implications of Brexit for African economies. The Brexit has come at a time when many African countries are facing serious external and internal pressures which are constraining their economic activities. While Brexit will have negative implications for some African economies on many fronts, it may also bring opportunities. We analyse the effects of this move on African economies from different perspectives.


    24 June 2016 - MARKET OUTLOOK - QGRL Oil Market Outlook, 3rd Quarter, 2016

    By Dr Jeremy Wakeford



    • Brent crude oil spot prices breached the $50/barrel (b) mark in June, having averaged $47/b in May, up $5/b from April. The May oil price rise marked the fourth consecutive monthly increase since recording a 12-year low of $31/b in January. Prices have been supported by supply disruptions in Canada (due to wildfires), Nigeria (militant attacks) and Venezuela (economic troubles), and continuing production decline in the US.
    • Several major producers are continuing to produce near all-time highs (notably Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq), while falling US tight oil production is largely being offset by Iran’s increasing production and exports in the wake of sanctions on that country having been lifted in January.
    • World liquids production is forecast to increase only marginally (0.2 mb/d) this year and slightly more (0.5 mb/d) next year, but may decline towards the end of the decade as a result of the steep cutbacks in investment spending last year and this year.
    • Oil demand is projected to rise by about 1.3 to 1.5 million b/d this year, with about half the increase attributable to consumption growth in China and India.
    • The recent oversupply in world oil markets is expected to gradually narrow over the coming year. Global oil inventories are expected to grow by an average of about 0.5 to 1 mb/d in 2016, and grow modestly in the first half of 2017 before contracting in the second half. Hence oil prices are not expected to begin to recover significantly until later in 2017 when supply and demand converge.
    • The US EIA has raised its price forecast for Brent crude to $43/b in 2016 and $52/b in 2017, up from the April forecasts of $34 and $40, respectively.
    • The major geopolitical risks to oil supplies are the socio-political and economic instability in Venezuela and the attacks by militants in Nigeria, while Iraq’s production looks reasonably secure for now as the Islamic State is under sustained attack in its strongholds of northern Iraq and Syria. 


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    25 April 2016 - Working Paper 2: Sovereign Wealth Funds and Infrastructure Development in Africa

    By Dr. Seedwell Hove  
    Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) are increasingly becoming major sources of finance in many African countries. This paper analyses the potential role that SWFs could play in financing infrastructure development in Africa. The paper documents the state of infrastructure and its financing needs in Africa, dissects the anatomy of sovereign wealth funds on the continent, and assesses the extent to which sovereign wealth funds can bridge the infrastructure financing gap. The analysis shows that Africa’s infrastructure needs new sources of finance to cover the existing financing requirements. Although African SWFs are still small compared to those in other countries of the world, they have the potential to contribute meaningfully towards financing infrastructure development and fostering economic development in Africa.  Putting in place favorable conditions for business and ensuring stable political and governance conditions can also attract global sovereign wealth funds to invest their massive resources in Africa. The paper also highlights some risks and opportunities for infrastructure investments on the continent. 
    Key words: Sovereign wealth funds, Infrastructure development, asset allocation


    12 April 2016-MARKET OUTLOOK-Macroeconomic and Market Outlook, 2nd Quarter, 2016

    By Dr. Seedwell Hove and Dr. Jeremy Wakeford, Macroeconomists, QGRL
    • The global markets have calmed down after a tumultuous start to 2016.
    • The global economic recovery remains slow and fragile. Visible risks will keep global growth below the projected 2.9 percent in 2016.  
    • High income economies are gaining strength, but the slowdown in emerging and developing countries will continue to hold back overall global growth momentum.
    • Developing and emerging countries are facing headwinds from persistent low oil and other commodity prices; weak global trade amid the slowdown and rebalancing in China; prospects of financial tightening and subdued capital flows.
    • Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa is more moderate than initially anticipated, under the weight of external and domestic constraints.  
    • After a dip in oil prices at the beginning of 2016 ($31/bbl in January), oil prices have picked up in recent months. They are forecast to average $34/bbl in 2016 and $40/bbl in 2017, a marked revision from the previous forecasts.  
    • The macroeconomic outlook is largely subject to downside risks emanating from the slowdown in large emerging market economies, notably in China amid that economy’s rebalancing, lower commodity prices and prospects of financial tightening. African countries are also subject to risks related to political uncertainties and security threats, and El Nino-induced drought.



    20 April 2016 - Managing the Energy-food-water Nexus in Developing Countries: Case Studies of Transition Governance

    Jeremy J. Wakeford,  Sasha Mentz Lagrange  and Candice Kelly
    Energy, food and water security have traditionally been examined by researchers and addressed by policymakers in isolation of one another. However, an emerging literature is examining the numerous interdependencies, linkages and spill-overs that exist among complex energy, food and water systems. These interconnections, referred to hereafter as a ‘nexus’, imply that the governance of these systems should be conducted in an integrated manner that seeks to minimise trade-offs and maximise synergies. This paper aims to contribute to this growing nexus literature, as well as the related field studying the governance of transitions, by investigating the strategies and policies that are required to manage nexus risks and vulnerabilities in different developing country contexts. A case study approach is followed, in which Malawi, South Africa and Cuba are taken as representatives of (largely) agrarian, industrial and ‘sustainable’ socioecological regimes, respectively. In each case, an analysis is conducted of the key aspects of the nexus, including challenges and risks, as well as of relevant policy frameworks and interventions that have been introduced in these countries. The paper finds that nexus challenges manifest differently in the various socioecological regimes. In the Malawian case, a key vulnerability is the low productivity of the agrarian food regime. The government is trying to address this through a fertiliser subsidy scheme, but this raises new risks for long-term soil and water quality. South Africa’s major challenges lie in the dependency of food systems on (largely imported) oil, and the vulnerability of its scarce water resources to pollution from fossil fuel-based industrial activities and agriculture. The Cuban case shows that the adoption of agroecological farming practices can help to achieve substantial reductions in energy use by the food system, while boosting the average level of food supply per capita. The paper concludes that despite exhibiting major differences in their status quo challenges, all three case studies point to the need for transitions to more sustainable ‘green economies’ in order to mitigate growing risks in the energy-food-water security nexus. It is further suggested that countries like Malawi have an opportunity to leapfrog the fossil-fuelled industrial stage of development and transition more directly from an agrarian to a sustainable regime.
    Keywords: energy-food-water nexus; sustainability transitions; food security; transition governance.

    22 March 2016 - MARKET OUTLOOK - QGRL Oil Market Outlook

    By Dr. Jeremy Wakeford




    Oil prices have remained very weak in recent months, with the Brent benchmark averaging $31/bbl in January and $32/bbl in February – prices not seen since early 2004. This is a result of continued high levels of production, by both non-OPEC and OPEC countries, amid tepid global demand. Prices recovered slightly to around $40/bbl in mid-March, buoyed by talks between Russia and several members of OPEC about a possible production ‘freeze’.


    Several major producers are continuing to produce at or near all-time highs (notably Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iraq), while falling US tight oil production is being partially offset by Iran’s increasing production and exports in the wake of sanctions on that country having been lifted in January 2016. Iran has said it will not cap its production, and thus the talks of an output freeze are unlikely to have a major impact on prices in the near future.


    World liquids production is forecast to remain virtually flat for the next two years, but may decline thereafter as a result of the steep cutbacks in investment spending last year.


    Oil demand is projected to rise by about 1.2 million b/d this year after dipping significantly in the last quarter of 2015, although downside risks remain as a result of weaknesses in the global economy, and especially the Chinese economy.


    The recent oversupply in world oil markets is expected to persist over the coming year. Global oil inventories are expected to grow by an average of between 1 and 1.6 million b/d in 2016. Hence oil prices are not expected to begin to recover significantly until 2017 when the gap between supply and demand narrows.


    The US EIA currently forecasts that Brent crude will average $34/bbl in 2016 and $40/bbl in 2017, a marked fall compared to its December forecast of $56/bbl for 2016.


    On the geopolitical front, the recent attenuation of conflict in Syria has somewhat reduced the immediate threat to oil production in the region. Nevertheless, continued conflict and instability in several major oil exporters (e.g. Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela) presents an ongoing supply-side risk.



    15 January 2016 - MARKET OUTLOOK - Macroeconomic and Market Outlook, 1st Quarter, 2016

    By Dr. Seedwell Hove and Dr. Jeremy Wakeford




    • Global growth could marginally pick up in 2016, lifted up by strong impetus from high income countries (US, Europe and Japan), but is subject to downside risks.
    • Developing and emerging market economies are facing headwinds from declining commodity prices; weakening global trade amid the slowdown in China; the rise in US interest rates, which is inducing capital outflows in emerging markets; USD appreciation and volatility in global financial markets.
    • African countries are largely buffeted by the slowdown in China, declining commodity prices and the effects of the hike in the US interest rate.
    • The commodity price super-cycle ended, marked by a steep plunge in oil prices and other commodities, amid excess supply in the face of weak demand. The oil supply glut seems to be persisting as supply still outpaces demand, further depressing prices in the medium term. Recovery in oil prices is expected to be much slower and oil prices could average at or reach below the $50-60 per barrel range in 2016, and remain below $70 per barrel until 2018 in the absence of major geopolitical turmoil.
    • The diverging monetary policy stances of major central banks, financial market sentiment and developments in China will largely influence financial conditions in developing and emerging economies.
    • The hike in the US interest rates is appreciating the USD, raising the cost financing, inducing capital outflows from emerging market economies and heightening volatility in emerging market economies.
    • The macroeconomic outlook is less robust than what it was a few months ago, with risks tilted to the downside. Key risks to monitor are: China’s economic slowdown, commodity price weakness, renewed financial market volatility following the US tightening of monetary policy and the recent China equity volatility, possible escalating geopolitical risks in the Middle East, election-related political tensions in Africa, and El Nino related unfavorable weather conditions affecting parts of Africa (and other parts of the world).
    • Despite attendant risks, there are ample investment opportunities in Africa, especially in infrastructure development.


    15 January 2016 - OPINION PAPER - US Interest Rate Lift-off: Macroeconomic Implications for Emerging Markets and Africa

    By Dr. Seedwell Hove and Dr. Jeremy Wakeford



    After several months of anticipation, the US Federal Reserve Bank raised its benchmark short term interest rate - the Federal Funds rate – from a 0-0.25 percent target range to a 0.25-0.5 percent range on 16 December, 2015. The decision was shaped by two economic developments, which signaled a recovery of the US economy: favorable labour market conditions and the inflation developments. The US economy expanded at a moderate pace of 2.1 percent in 2015, while labour market conditions have improved considerably. Unemployment was estimated at 5 percent in 2015 and is expected to decline to 4.7 percent by 20182. Inflation has continued to run below the Fed’s 2 percent long-run objective, partly reflecting declines in energy prices and non-energy imports, but is expected to rise to the target objective over the medium term. The rise in interest rates is the first monetary policy tightening since 2006 and if part of a sustained tightening cycle, it could have strong effects on emerging market and African economies.

    The US interest rate hike came at a time when many emerging markets were already reeling from the slowdown in China, sharply lower commodity prices, depreciating currencies and increasing geopolitical risks. Other major central banks such as the European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of Japan are easing their monetary policy positions, and the move by the US reflects divergence of monetary policies. The Fed believes that the overall stance of its monetary policy remains accommodative and future moves will be prudent and more gradual than in the previous tightening cycles, but each decision will depend on market conditions affecting inflation and employment.

    Comparing the current interest rate hike with the monetary policy tapering of 2013 when the US exited from the unconventional monetary frameworks (quantitative easing), the main difference is that there was much greater uncertainty in 2013 than there was in the run-up to the recent rate hike, which was well communicated over a long time. The initial talk of tapering in May 2013 led to a surge in U.S. 10-year Treasury yields by 100 basis points, followed by a spike in financial market volatility in emerging economies. Equity markets dropped sharply, coupled with significant capital outflows, currency depreciations, and a steep rise in bond spreads in emerging markets.3 The impact of the current hike could be more muted than during the tapering.


    14 October 2015 - MARKET OUTLOOK - Macroeconomic and Market Outlook, 3rd Quarter, 2015

    By Dr. Seedwell Hove, Prof. Kevin Urama and Dr. Jeremy Wakeford

    The global economy is projected to grow at 2.8 percent4 in 2015, lifted from 2.6 percent in 2014 by improved recovery in high income countries. High income countries’ growth is supported by activity pick-up in the United States and Japan, while recovery in the Euro Area remains tepid. Emerging and developing countries are facing headwinds from declining oil and other commodity prices, the slowdown in China, financial markets volatility emanating from the anticipated Federal Reserve Bank’s exit path from unconventional monetary policy despite the postponement of the decision to increase interest rates in September and, the rapid strengthening of the US dollar. These dynamics are shaping the outlook of African countries and raising new challenges and opportunities. Read more

    1 October 2015 - THOUGHT LEADERSHIP - Solving Africa’s Energy Challenges by 2025

    As the world prepares for the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 21) in the beautiful city of Paris, France, the discourse on energy systems and the nexus among energy access, economic growth, and carbon dioxide emissions – the major cause of global climate change- remains at the center of climate policy.

    Solving Africa’s Energy Challenges by 2025


    By Prof. Kevin Chika Urama, QGRL Managing Director

    While climate change is now considered by many to be the most pressing challenge facing the human society today, total anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions have continued to increase. The highest growth in total anthropogenic GHG emissions in human history was recorded during the period 2000 to 2010[1]. About half of cumulative CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2010 occurred during the last 40 years. This was in spite of a growing number of climate change mitigation policies and investments in climate smart technologies, including renewable energy technologies (RETs). The reason for this is straightforward. About 47% of the increased CO2 emissions between 2000 and 2010 directly came from energy supply; with industry, transport and buildings contributing 30%, 11% and 3% respectively. About 78% of the total GHG emission increase from 1970 to 2010 was due to CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes. Read more