How Benin can lead post-COVID economic recovery

Guest blog by Thierno Olory-Togbe

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

As a Principal Legal Counsel at the African Legal Support Facility, I have the opportunity to advise African governments facing inadequate capacities in strategic sectors such as sovereign debt, infrastructure and natural resources.  Despite the increased efforts of African governments in improving public sector efficiency, the optimization of benefits from the exploitation of natural resources and economic diversification remain critical to reduce poverty on the continent.

The current COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant global economic and financial crisis have led to major disruptions for African governments in the achievement of their development objectives. This challenge requires practical problem-solving approaches. Hence, my participation to Harvard Kennedy School’s executive course on “Leading Economic growth” was an opportunity to better understand how this could be done from a very practical perspective. It was an opportunity to learn how to use appropriate diagnosis, decision-making and implementation tools.

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Understanding the problem is critical to policy implementation

Guest blog by Mustapha Samateh

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

After 11 years of public service- 7 years at the Central Bank and 4 years as Director at Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, I joined the private sector a year ago serving as the Deputy Managing Director at the Investment and Commerce bank.  My experience in public sector made me believe that there is more than enough good public policy. The problem is implementation. This motivated me to take the Online Harvard Executive Education Program on Implementing Public Policy (IPP). My expectation at the beginning of the course was that I will learn a lot about public policy implementation. In the end, it surpass my expectations.

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The Pandemic Cannot Stop Us!

Guest blog by Jean-Francois Roussy

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

Here we are at the end of our journey, 22 weeks later! 

When I applied to this program, the lock-down was starting, we were wondering what was going on in the world, how long it would last and learning to telework.  I am now graduating and, while we are still teleworking, we are finally seeing the light end at the end of the tunnel and the vaccines are at our doorsteps (instead of our Doordash order)!

After close to 20 years in the development and implementation of Canadian public policies, I felt that I needed a little extra at this point of my career: to formally learn theories associated to the implementation of public policies and especially learn them from a different perspective than the traditional Canadian ones.  And to learn from others successes, challenges and experiences around the world.

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Building the foundation for economic growth in Burkina Faso

Guest blog by Gillesamadou Ouedraogo

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

“We do not inherit the land from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children”.

A saying that paints well what I’ve gleaned from this insightful journey. This class has helped me come to the realization that growth stems from a meticulous, intentional, minute, and coordinated ensemble of efforts deployed to a very specifically determined end, it will never occur accidentally. If planned growth efforts often fail it’s because it is a process, iterative in nature, that is disruption averse and responds well to consistent application of policy translated into action. It requires a concerted coordination of efforts from government, civil society, private sector, investors, banks, industries, and a slew of different stakeholders, to grow the pie. But one must know the recipe. And depending on where you are, the ingredients, and ultimately, the flavor might be different. That is why it important to ensure a future for tomorrow. Alas, the future in my society is a very volatile and neglected concept. The future has never been a priority for us, as the now has always been enough of an enigma that we live for today and hope for tomorrow. But slowly, we are getting into a mindset where we understand that planning for tomorrow has its advantages. That is why it is crucial for us to invest in our children being left with more than what we found when we came into this world. Otherwise, we risk leaving nothing to our descendants in the next generations.

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Youth Unemployment in Kenya: My Journey as a Leading Economic Growth Student

Guest blog by Albert Waudo

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

What can I say?  This has been one of most interesting trainings I have attended in a while.  Right from the first class where we were asked to think about crossing a country in 2015 with a well-drawn map versus crossing the same country in 1804 when there was no map in existence.  This class sort of felt like the 1804 case.  I came into the class with a preconceived notion on economic growth and a set of ideas of how my growth challenge should be tackled by my organization and government, but I as the class progressed, kept leaning something new at the end of each class and adjusting my thinking as we went along.  This was PDIA in practice (Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation) a step-by-step approach which helps you break down your problems into its root causes, identify entry points, search for possible solutions, take action, reflect upon what you have learned, adapt and then act again.

The course was broken down into 4 components, reading and watching the weekly materials provided by the faculty, working on a weekly assignment, participating in a small group discussion and a live question and answer session with the faculty every Tuesday.  There were optional sessions with TA every Friday.

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Impact of COVID-19 on Benin Republic’s Economy

Guest blog by Aadam Soulebon

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

My expectations:

When I was offered to sign up for the online version of this program, at first glance, I had concerns. This was my very first HKS course. Indeed, I was afraid that the resulting interaction would not add a substantial value to me besides the class materials. I was looking for something to solidify my competence in the field of public policies as a practitioner but also the HARVARD experience, the interaction with teachers but also the richness of exchanges with classmates.

Guess what: I’ve had a lot more than I can put into words …

Working as Special Assistant to the Senior Minister of Planning and Development of Benin Republic, the highest-ranking Minister, public policies are in our core business. We oversee the implementation of all public policies launched by the government. In most cases, we conceive, we mobilize resources and we monitor while the sectoral ministries are in charge of implementation. As we are reaching the end of this course, I am going back to my normal  life with technical tools, experience sharing,  and a network to rely on through the years. I am more confident in my job and am able to come up with options and solutions instead of questions while dealing with public policies.

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Tackling gun violence in Birmingham, Alabama

Guest blog by Crystal Smitherman

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

Being a new and young politician, I knew I had a lot of learning to do in the political sector. I had a lot of energy and great initiatives, but I still need to learn how to revamp my message and craft good policy making habits. In the midst of a crime crisis, as our murder rates continued to rise significantly every week, I knew something had to change. I knew our policy approach towards dealing with crime needed to be reformed and improved. I came across the Implementing Public Policy course on the Harvard Kennedy School website. I knew my mindset Right then, would never be the same the moment I enrolled in the course.

I always knew I had the potential and capability to make a difference in my district and city by achieving attainable development goals and initiatives. Yet, I was still hitting a brick wall when it came to getting over the hump of pushing forward on certain initiatives. This is why I am forever grateful that I joined the 2020 IPP cohort.

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What if it’s not broken yet?

Guest blog by Carmel Quin

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

Western Australia is a prosperous State in a diverse and wealthy country. Our growth challenge is not one that we experience today – but one that looms large on the horizon. 

Much of the State’s wealth comes from the export of non-renewable commodities – natural resources that will not last forever. If we want to maintain our standard of living in the future, it is vital that new drivers of growth are developed.

The question I, and many others, have sought to understand is – what might these new growth opportunities be and how can we best support them? Further, how can we prompt meaningful and sustained action to address a problem before its impacts are felt?

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Low local supply in global value chains in Chihuahua, MX

Guest blog by Torres Luis Oliver

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 65 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in May 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

Being part of this course was not only an academic experience, it was also a professional experience of great impact for the development of my skills as a professional in territorial development.

In this sense, having spent ten weeks learning new methodologies and mechanisms to measure economic development and growth as well as the identification of problems in the territory, allowed me to develop capacities and skills to apply them in my work responsibility.

It was not only the knowledge that I was able to acquire through the conferences, papers and recommendations made by the teachers, but also the knowledge and experiences that other peers do in their cities and countries, this experience of collaboration with other students of the course. It has been fundamental to generate contacts around the world.

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Formalizing Egypt’s Informal Sector

Guest blog by Perihan Tawfik

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Implementing Public Policy Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Participants successfully completed this 6-month online learning course in December 2020. These are their learning journey stories.

Being an Egyptian Woman, a holder of a master degree of the Public Policy and Public Administration from the American University in Cairo (AUC, 2007), member of the AUC Public Policy Hub (2018) and working for the International Labor Organization (UN Specialized agency) encouraged me to think about enrolling in a public policy course at Harvard’s premises. 

Applying to “Implementing Public Policy”, blended course, at Harvard Kennedy School was a very interesting challenge from March to December 2020 until the moment the course turned to be an online course then the challenge started to grow bigger in me. I had an initial expectation to learn from the Harvard premises experience and from the interaction with professors and mates especially that I considered the online part as an introduction and conclusion while the body of the course is mainly the in presence-week.

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