African Review of Economics and Finance (AREFC 2020)

Theme: Challenging the Economics of Migration: Theory, Policy, and Practice

Global migration has become a topic of major concern. Economists have ventured into this area too, with even an emergent field of refugee economies. Yet, the economics of migration is far from being up-to-date with current complexities. Political economists, including Galbraith, Gunnar Myrdal, W. Arthur Lewis, and Adebayo Adedeji, were holistic in their approaches when they studied migration. However, mainstream economists tend to emphasise narrow analytical frameworks underpinned by the assumption of the self-interested utility-maximising migrant.

Together with advocating neoliberal policies of encouraging migration as a cost reducing, wage-saving measure, a way of raising revenues for host countries, it seems economists are yet to appreciate the complexities of modern migration. The absence of new social sciences analytical traditions such as 'border studies' in contemporary economics, and the lack of economic analysis in these new fields, although institutional economics has so much to offer the analysis of borders perhaps, signal that it is time for economists - and other social scientists - to study migration as a transdisciplinary project.

AREF has long pursued this agenda. Issue 5 (1) was an attempt to develop at least interdisciplinary approaches to temporary migration. That issue highlighted the nature and contradictions of temporary migration. However, many other questions were unanswered. Analytical questions were asked and addressed, but various paradigms of migration research and their sociology of knowledge were recognised but not systematically researched. We now know that the new field of stratification economics, pioneered by African economists such as William Sandy Darity Jr. of Duke University, can offer compelling alternatives to Western-centric economic analysis. Recent books such as Property, Institutions, and Social Stratification in Africa (2020) and volume 12 (1) of AREF seek to make this point

In this conference, however, the more empirical focus developed by AREF in volume 5 (1) would be combined with various analytical and theoretical approaches to migration. Indeed, the concern could include labour migration, but it must be significantly wider than that. Economic migration is important, but so is the political economy of war and so-called 'civil wars' in Africa blamed for producing refugees. Geographically, the conference interest is both internal and international migration. Migration of Africans within continental Africa, to Europe, or to the United States of America continue to be of interest. However, this conference welcomes other interests too. For example, the experiences of diasporic Africans, including African Americans, their experiences of migration, the relationship of migrants to black economies in the Caribbean, including Indigenous peoples and migration around the world, are particularly welcome.

Our stereotypical views of the Anglo-Saxon region need to be questioned with new data and experiences from within those regions but also from other regions. Indeed, given our relatively limited knowledge of African migration to the Nordic, Asian, and Arctic regions, this conference invites papers that have this ambition. Old patterns of rural-urban migration are important, but have they changed with greater resources now concentrated in cities? Which cities are being built by remittances and how are these dynamics transforming urban development?

There has been much discussion of the feminisation of migration, but the nuances of these characterisations need to be better understood. The focus on building walls and controlling borders has eclipsed long-standing Africanist institutions of welcoming migrants and we need to know how African economists can teach the world how to rethink social processes. That economics of migration must inevitably include investigating the idea of gifts, helping others in need in ways that the pejorative concept of people smugglers does not reveal. The conference will open fresh insights about migrant businesses, institutions, and other social economies of migrant lives. Questions about racism against migrants need to be rethought in order to be re-addressed, migrant financial networks and financial systems that are springing up in the face of migration cannot be criminalised without being systematised and theorised. What about the environment? Should we not be concerned about migration and the current ecological crises, inequalities, and uncertainties? In other words, what are the many ways in which we can theorise migration?

Although an economics conference, the 2020 AREF conference is not only for economists. Papers from other fields are welcome. If we are going to deepen our appreciation of migration, it cannot be assumed that economics - or any other field - for that matter alone has all the answers. Rather, the conference will provide a space for a transdisciplinary assembly for critical and frank, yet respectful and civil, analysis of one of the greatest drivers of social change in the twenty first century.

The topics of interest include the following
* Political economy * Economics of development * Emerging financial markets
* Microfinance * Global commodity markets * Trade and development
* Environmental economics * Industrial organisation * Accounting and finance
* Mathematical economics * Agriculture and natural resources * Development planning
* History of economic thought * Health, education and welfare * Law and economics
* Microeconomics * Corporate governance * Entrepreneurship and innovation
* Prudential regulation * Financial economics * Digital finance
* Econometric methods * Public sector economics * Development finance
* Islamic finance * Business administration * Banking and finance
* Urban and real estate economics * Political economy of development * Growth and inequality
* Macro and monetary economics * Labour and demography * Energy policy & management
* Consumer behaviour

Keynote Speakers

Professor Gerald Jaynes, Yale University, USA

Professor Dorrit Posel, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Plenary Panel Discussion- Migration in South Africa

Uma Kollamparambil, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa - Chair

Yoon Jung Park, Johns Hopkins University, USA

Rose Boswell, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

Lochner Marais, University of the Free State, South Africa

Charles Allan Kwenin, International Organisation of Migration (IOM) Regional Director for Southern Africa

A.K. FOSU Prize for Best Paper

The A.K. Fosu prize will be awarded to recognise high quality research presented at the annual AREF conference. This highly competitive award is made to the author(s) of the paper judged by the editors of AREF to be the best presented at the conference. The A.K Fosu prize was initiated by organisers of the AREF conference to honour the contributions of the great economist and academic leader, Professor Extraordinary Augustin Kwasi Fosu (

* The award is open to all conference participants, however, interested delegates need to apply specifically and indicate whether they want their paper(s) to be considered for the award
* Papers are subjected to the normal African Review of Economics and Finance peer review process.
* Papers deemed publishable by the panel of reviewers will be long listed for the A.K.Fosu Prize Committee.
* The award will be made at the AREF Conference.

Benefits: Recipients are given a $300 honorarium, an award certificate, and the opportunity to develop the paper further for publication in AREF.

A.K. Fosu Committee:
* AREF Editors Jones Mensah, Ferdi Botha, and Franklin Obeng-Odoom Prepare a long list of 10 papers to the committee members in non-ranked order
* Committee Members (Nana Akua Anyidoho, Jane Kabubo-Mariara, Nathanael Ojong, Wadjamsse B. Djezou) prepare a short list of 5 papers in non-ranked order
* Ex-Officio member Imhotep Alagidede prepares a very short list of top three papers, and A.K. Fosu ranks them.

Conference Chairs

Dr. Jones Odei Mensah, Wits Business School, and Editor, African Review of Economics and Finance and Ghanaian Journal of Economics.

Dr. Ferdi Botha, University of Melbourne, and Editor, African Review of Economics and Finance

Professor Franklin Obeng-Odoom, University of Helsinki, and Editor-in-Chief, African Review of Economics and Finance

Submission Details

The call for the submission of full papers for review is now open. All papers should include a title, keywords, authors' names, affiliation and an email address. The abstract should not exceed 500 words. Submit your full papers in English, on or before May 1ST, 2020 preferably in MS Word format by following the instructions on the conference website. Please register or Login if you have an account already to make your submisssion.

Important Dates

Abstract submission deadline: 1ST May 2020.

Notification of acceptance: 30TH May 2020.

Conference registration deadline: 25TH July 2020, thereafter, penalties apply.

Conference dates: 20TH to 21ST August 2020

Paper Registration Information

The registration fees are as follows (2 paper limit per author; fees are non-refundable): $400 for academics; and $200 for graduate students (proof of student registration is required). The registration fee covers coffee breaks, lunches and conference material.

Special Issues

Authors of papers accepted for presentation at the 2020 AREF conference may be invited to submit their papers for consideration in the associated conference issue of the African Review of Economics and Finance (AREF)., the Ghanaian Journal of Economics, or the Journal of African Political Economy and Development.
The editors of the various journals will directly invite these submissions. Where there are overlapping invitations, the authors can choose where to send their papers.

Publication in Conference Proceedings

The conference proceedings will be published in book form that complies fully with the South African Department of Higher Education and Training requirements for accreditation.

Wits Business School

The 2020 AREF conference will take place at the Wits Business School. "Wits Business School" is the Graduate School of Business Administration in the University of the Witwatersrand, one of the top tertiary institutes in Africa. The School offers a variety of postgraduate academic programmes and executive education programmes as well as weekly public seminars. WBS also designs tailor-made, in-company programmes, partnering with client organisations to develop management capacity. With a full suite of programmes on offer, WBS delivers innovative, transformative, and immersive learning experiences using generative thinking methodologies.

The School's aim is to deliver leaders who can fashion the future of Africa and raise the values-bar on how business is done on the continent. Learning is therefore relevant to the challenges and opportunities that we face on this continent, providing students with a deep understanding of the complexities of doing business in Africa within a global context.

Wits is recognised internationally as a leading research university. More WBS faculty have PhDs than any other business school on the continent and include several NRF-rated scholars. WBS has an extensive Management Library, 24-hour meeting rooms and Africa's largest Case Study Centre, housing over 200 real-life cases that bring relevant business challenges into the classroom. The main campus is in Parktown and our satellite campus is in Braamfontein, both in Johannesburg, the vibrant, commercial hub of the continent. For more information on the Wits Business School, please visit