Inaugural lecture Ton Dietz: Africa is on the rise

Economically, Africa is on the rise, as appears from both research carried out among African people and the analysis of statistical data. Prof. Ton Dietz addresses the issue in his inaugural lecture of 14 January, ‘Silverlining Africa’.

Economic breakthrough

Professor Ton Dietz

Professor Ton Dietz

Africa seems on the verge of an economic breakthrough. Following the population explosion and the economic and political crises between 1970 and 1990, a change has set in which has become more pronounced in the last decade. Worldwide, Africa has the youngest population and an incredible drive towards fast-growing cities. There is an increasing demand for Africa’s resources: land, energy, minerals and manpower.

Two levels

In his inaugural lecture, Dietz discusses the recent developments on two levels. First he deals with the preliminary results of a study in which Africans indicate what they think of the ‘development’ of the continent and the many organisations involved in it. This study is taking place in Northern Ghana and Southern Burkina Faso, but it is relevant for Africa as a whole. Dietz then shows the results of the analysis of statistical material in the field of agrarian, economic, socio-cultural and political developments across Africa.


There have been clear breakthroughs on both levels in the last ten years: the population in the research locations are benefiting from substantial improvements, which are also visible in the statistics of all kinds of development organisations.

Africa Study Centre research fields

Finally, Dietz sketches the five most important areas of research and documentation for the African Studies Centre in the coming years:

1. Dynamics in the relation between man and nature, focusing on the consequences for employment and
2. Rapid changes in the African cities
3. Ascribing meaning to identities
4. Constellations of power and governance
5. The changing role of Africa in the world

In all these areas, the African Studies Centre combines scientific research with relevant contributions to social dialogue regarding Emerging Africa. This takes place in the Netherlands, in Africa, and in collaboration with partners all over the world.

About Ton Dietz

Ton Dietz is Professor of Development in Africa and Director of the African Studies Centre in Leiden. He trained as a social geographer at the University of Nijmegen between 1969 and 1976. He then worked at the University of Amsterdam where in 1987 he defended his thesis on research into the history of the development of a region in Kenya. In 1995, he became Professor of Social Geography at the University of Amsterdam. In 2003 he also became Professor in Social Sciences at the University of Utrecht and Director of the CERES Research School. In 2007, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Moi University in Eldoret, Kenya. Dietz has been, and still is, active in many scientific and social organisations, including as board member for NWO-WOTRO and the Africa-Europe Group on Interdisciplinary Studies (AEGIS). He was one of the initiators of the Development Policy Review Network, Worldconnectors and the Broker.

Inaugural lecture Prof. A.J. Dietz

Silverlining Africa
Friday 14 January
Academy Building, Rapenburg 73
Start 16.15 hrs

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(11 January 2011)

Last Modified: 12-01-2011