7th EPRN Annual Research Conference -Theme : “Economic policy measures to enhance productive capacities post COVID-19 Crisis”

25-26th February 2021
Venue : TBC

1. Background

The Economic Policy Research Network (EPRN Rwanda) is a Research and Training Institution registered with Rwanda Governance Board as a local Non-Government Organization with a mission to contribute to the evidence-based economic policymaking by providing high-quality research, building capacities and creating networking opportunities for local experts. One of the flagship activities of EPRN is to organize research conferences. So far, six conferences have been organized with more than 40 papers presented, and a number of policy dialogues on research findings have been organized.

Every year EPRN Research Committee selects a research theme and sub-topics which are approved by the Board of Directors. EPRN calls for abstracts/proposals. Selected proposals are assigned mentors and reviewers who work with researchers until the date of the conference whereby the best papers are presented and thereafter published as EPRN Paper Working Series. During paper selection, subscribed members of EPRN are given a priority. Presented papers are sent to international reviewers with the possibility of being published in recognized international journals. Apart from papers by EPRN members, partners also have the opportunity to disseminate/ present study reports.

The socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have had far-reaching consequences beyond the spread of the COVID-19 disease itself and efforts to quarantine it (Johnsen and al’ 2020). What was widely viewed as a ‘Chinese problem,’ and then an ‘Italian problem’ has become an ‘everybody problem.’ In most cases, Governments imposed severe social distancing policies, work, and school closures, and the like. This inevitably has led to almost immediate economic hardship, which then leads governments to propose increasingly bold anti-recession measures. Nations must ensure that temporary solutions don’t create long-lasting problems. All this is due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, and the inexorable implications of its explosive spread during the ‘acceleration phase’ of the epidemic.

Continuous economic growth has allowed Rwanda to achieve significant socio-economic progress. However, despite remarkable progress and demonstrated commitment by the Government, Rwanda still faces many challenges in building productive capacities and structurally transforming its economy. To this, add the economic impacts resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. As Rwanda aims to move towards achieving middle- and, gradually, high-income status, it is necessary for the country to take recovery and resilience-building measures to improve socio-economic growth post-COVID-19. The measures should include fostering productive capacities, export diversification, and structural economic transformation (UNCTAD, 2019).

2. Conference Theme and subtopics

The Economic Policy Research Network selected the following central theme for the 7th annual research conference : “Economic policy measures to enhance productive capacities post COVID-19 Crisis”.

The COVID-19 pandemic generated a socio-economic crisis and hit most of the economic sectors. Recently the IMF anticipated that the Rwanda annual increase in GDP would fall from 8.5% to 5.1% in 2020 (bearing in mind that these projections may change over time). The macroeconomic framework for Rwanda’s First National Strategy for Transformation requires an average GDP growth of 9.1% between 2017-2024 for the country to remain on its path of economic transformation. This will require considerable efforts in boosting private and public investment financed by domestic savings and capital inflows.

The country needs to take measures -including economic policy related- to revive the private sector and public sector to enhance the export promotion, inclusive economic growth, and sustainable development. There is a need to strengthen productive capacities in sectors which are likely to quickly recover , and re-build their productive capacities that would have a multiplier effect to the entire economy, including job creation.

The Research conference will create a discussion forum on relevant research findings to reveal the status of the economic sectors post COVID-19 ; and suggest specific short-term, medium-term, and long-term recommendations to uplift the country’s socio-economic development.

Sub-topics :

i. Understanding the Socio-Economic impact of Covid-19 : The size of the economic damage is still very uncertain, but it is inevitable that it is significant. The country needs to focus on mitigating the damages or losses he pandemic has caused and strengthen productive capacities to recover and sustain the growth. Moreover, in an effort to ensure that no-one is left behind, there is need for special attention to population groups and individuals who have been made particularly vulnerable by the crisis. Pandemics and economic crises can have a disproportionate impact on on developing countries such as Rwanda and the most vulnerable segments of their population, which can trigger worsening inequality. Researchers under this sub-topic are expected to assess the level of socio-economic implications caused by Covid-119, lessons learned, and propose possible policy recommendations to address the effects. ;

ii. The role of leadership at national and international levels in containing effects of Covid-19 : Due to COVID-19, borders closed around the World, education and work move online, and millions of people are confined to their homes, and governments reacted differently. Various leadership decisions engendered specific impacts. Questions are beginning to arise as to what could have been done differently, and what lessons can be learned from the initial responses at all levels of governance. Holistic responses necessitated putting aside political adverse formore coordinated global leadership, and resources mobilization. Researchers under this sub-topic should assess the role and responsibilities of national leadership and international cooperation in containing COVID-19, what lessons learned that could inform how how leaders need to address other current and potential future global issues.

iii. The role of digital solutions in economic resilience and growth (E-commerce, E-payment, E-learning etc...) : The use of technology plays a significant role in digital financial services ecosystem development, employment generation, and economic growth explicitly driving key segments in the economy. Researchers under this sub-topic are expected to assess the role of digital solutions to development, bottlenecks to digital solutions, required actions to enhance digital solutions, most importantly post-COVID-19. There is a need for research on innovative digital solutions to support people, businesses, and institutions.

iv. Reducing vulnerability Post-Covid-19 – New Strategies for Insertion into the Regional and Global Economy : At the international level, the crisis has already transformed into an economic and labor market shock, impacting not only supply (production of goods and services) but also demand (consumption and investment). Africa’s most important trading partners, including the EU, China, the US, and India, experienced simultaneous crises and will reduce imports from Africa (UNECA 2020). Travel bans, border closures, and quarantine measures had impacts on both internal and external trade. Researchers should assess and advise on strategies to leverage the regional economic communities and African Continental Free Trade Area for coordination and come up with recommendations on coordinated actions across countries, especially taking into consideration the particularities of the COVID-19, what kind of economic cooperation is necessary, under which modalities, and what roles countries can play.

v. Investment strategies in the post-COVID-19 for economic growth and job creation : The National Strategy for Transformation Priority area 1 stipulates that : the government will promote interventions for the creation of 1,500,000 (over 214,000 annually) Off-farm, Decent and Productive Jobs for Economic Development.There is a need to mobilize domestic funding and attract more FDI to contain COVID-19 impacts. Researchers under this sub-topic should assess the bottlenecks to new investments and requirements to contain the economic fallout and moving forward (or finding the way forward) : analyses of/suggestions of policy responses, recovery measures (specifics) to attract more investments in development projects that are labor-intensive to address effects of COVID-19 on employment.

3. Call for abstracts

EPRN Rwanda encourages national and international researchers to submit abstracts (maximum 250 words per abstract) related to one of the sub-topics, which, once accepted, are developed to a full conference paper. Abstracts must be original, in English and submitted in WORD or PDF format to : [email protected] and copy to [email protected].

For the Conference paper preparation, the following timeline applies :

  • Deadline for abstract submission : 10th June 2020 (by 5 pm CAT)
  • Notification of acceptance of the proposal by the selection committee : 19th June 2020
  • Provision of mentor/reviewer at the researcher’s request : 01st July 2020
  • Deadline for initial submission of full paper : 15th December 2020
  • 1st pre-conference presentations (presentation may be done through an online platform) : 21st December 2020
  • Deadline for amended submissions : 15th January 2021
  • 2nd pre-conference presentations : 21st January 2021
  • Final notification of acceptance : 08th February 2021
  • 7th EPRN Economic Research Conference : 25-26th February 2021

For more information, contact us through : [email protected] OR Phone number (office) : +250788357648

Seth Kwizera