Student Stories: Developing Diversification Strategies for African Countries

Benedikt MargrafBenedikt Margraf is a second-year MPA student at the London School of Economics and Political Science. As part of the Growth Lab's 2022 Summer Internship Program, he contributed to the newly formed Pan-Africa research agenda. Our team is exploring the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the underlying constraints that have held African nations back from economic diversification and structural transformation.

Why did you apply to be a Growth Lab intern?
The Growth Lab constituted an excellent opportunity to deepen my interest in economic growth constraints with an empirical-analytical focus.

What did you work on this summer?
My work focused on the development of national export diversification strategies in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.

In what ways were you challenged?
Although AfCFTA has already been ratified and is in force, implementation is still very much in its infancy. Identifying concrete export opportunities and existing constraints therefore requires very detailed research at the product and industry level, extensive econometric analysis and background discussions with institutional stakeholders. Exciting and challenging at the same time.

What was your most exciting experience?
I especially enjoyed the inspiring colleagues and teamwork.

What advice would you give future Growth Lab interns?
Be curious and apply!

What’s next for you?
I will start the second year of the two-year MPA program, specializing in Economic Policy.