Student Stories: Inspired by the Growth Diagnostics Framework

Photo of Jack GisbyJack Gisby recently graduated with an MPA (Economic Policy) from the London School of Economics. 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?
Taking the growth diagnostics course with Miguel Santos was a highlight of my time at the LSE. It was quickly apparent that the diagnostic framework provides analysts with a unique ability to identify and understand the material factors that are impacting the growth trajectory of a developing economy. I wanted to work at the Lab to expand my understanding of how the framework can be applied to different contexts and to gain additional experience conducting the underlying analysis.

What did you work on this summer?
I’ve spent my time trying to understand the ways in which the African Continental Free Trade Agreement could potentially transform the continent’s economic environment and enable African countries to engage in more complex and valuable aspects of production. In this pursuit, I’ve reviewed literature, attended conferences, interviewed stakeholders from the public and private sector, and conducted independent analysis.

In what ways were you challenged?
Given the excitement surrounding the AfCFTA, as well as the scope of the agreement, there has been an enormous amount of literature written about it over the last five years. At times, it’s been challenging to cut through the sheer volume of information to identify credible and novel insights that are relevant to the Growth Lab's approach.

What was your most exciting/surprising experience?
The opportunity to work on an independent blog post derived from the research that I’ve done with the Lab has been particularly enjoyable - the flexibility and autonomy offered by my team has been empowering.

What advice would you give future Growth Lab interns?
1) Be proactive in reaching out to your manager, team, and other project teams to express your interest in specific topics. 2) Start thinking about topics that you might want to write about as early as possible.

What’s next for you?
I will continue working at the World Data Lab, focusing on the design and management of development-focused research projects in Africa. I will also begin working at the International Growth Centre based at the LSE, within the newly created Tax4Growth Initiative - again, with a geographic focus on Africa. Given that both roles have a strong focus on Africa's economic development, I have no doubt my learnings within the AfCFTA project team will be relevant and valuable.