Evaluating ecomonic growth in Ethiopia

Guest blog by Mohamed Omer Hussein

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

It was a very beneficial course for me. I learned a lot from it.

The Atlas of Economic Complexity is a godsend. It has detailed information about the imports and exports as well as the exact composition of the economic and trade activities of my country, Ethiopia. It’s also very customizable and visually appealing, and you can get what you want from it.

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Improving economic complexity and diversity in Afghanistan

Guest blog by Rishi Chakraborty

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

There are several key learnings that I will take away from this course. The first key learning for me was the novel way of thinking about development from the perspective of economic complexity and diversity, especially in terms of production/exports through the analogy of the forest with “branches”, “peripheries”, and “central clusters” of the Product Space. In all of my years of having studied economics at the BA and MA levels, this analogy of a forest and “monkeys” in the Product Space has been the most intuitive that I have encountered to date to describe a country’s economic growth challenges, and its simplicity and ingenuity will ensure that I will remember this concept for the rest of my life. Indeed, I am incredibly grateful that Professor Hausmann, Professor Matt Andrews, and the entire team at HKS LEG has shared this concept with us! 

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Making problems more approachable using PDIA

Guest blog by Ileana Ferber

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

For a professional that has been dreaming of working in international development her whole life, the LEG program has been one of the best learning experiences that I have had so far. I like to learn, so that is why I am continuously taking courses and building on my skills. This program has given the tools that I need to follow when trying to solve a problem. I used to see them as macro problems (and they still are), but after learning the PDIA process, problems seem to be more approachable than before. It has given me the confidence to propose solving problems. I know how to do it, or at least where to start. Asking “why?” five times has changed my life (now I’m Ileana after LEG). It makes everything possible. I want to solve problems. I find myself deconstructing problems at work and at home. The fishbone is showing up in my dreams.

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Driving diversification in the Cova da Beira Region, Portugal

Guest blog by João Leitão

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

  • Growth challenge: Cova da Beira Region: Driving Diversification to Complexity
  • Country/region/municipality: Portugal/Cova da Beira/Fundão

Learning how to drive the Cova da Beira Region, Portugal: From a stepping-stone to complexity. Reflections on LEG 2021, October 4 – December 10, 2021, from the Cova da Beira Region, Portugal

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Responding to economic collapse in Venezuela

Guest blog by Ana Maria Chirinos Leanez

This is a blog series written by the alumni of the Leading Economic Growth Executive Education Program at the Harvard Kennedy School. 61 Participants successfully completed this 10-week online course in December 2021. These are their learning journey stories.

After almost two years since the COVID19 pandemic started, policymakers and governments continue struggling with questions on how to deal with concerns on economic growth challenges and how to promote countries’ recovery more sustainably and inclusively. Those topics are very well discussed by the Leading Economic Growth program developed by the Harvard Kennedy School in collaboration with the Center for International Development (CID). It is a ten-week executive program that provides tools for the diagnosis and decision-making related to growth and development for practitioners worldwide.

As a Venezuelan macroeconomist who has been analyzing her country’s complex and severe macroeconomic crisis from a macro-financial perspective, the inclusion of economic growth elements would complete the whole picture of the analysis. For ten weeks, I was deeply immersed in the concepts of economic complexity, Knowhow, product space, growth diagnosis, strategies to promote economic diversification, and how to work with very complex problems using the problem-driven iterative adaptation (PDIA) approach. So, all the discussions were very profound and useful in designing development policies, and selecting some takeaways is not easy. However, I could summarize the most relevant lessons of the program as follows:

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Economic growth strategies in North Macedonia

Guest blog by Jones Anthony

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.

– Growth challenge: Slower economic growth compared to neighboring countries     

– Country/region/municipality: North Macedonia (NM)

  • What are some key ideas/learnings that you will take away from this course?

I gained a deep understanding of several key economic growth and public policy ideas from the course. The Product Space analysis is a game changer for my work on all future targeted industry strategies. Instead of focusing primarily on the industry concentrations and their growth rates (Location Quotients) for a country/region/city, I am now equipped to target those more complex industry sectors that will have the biggest impact on advancing economic growth and increasing the knowhow of the economy. I am also eagerly awaiting the City/Region Complexity Index in May, which I believe will be transformational for local economic development practitioners across the globe.

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Exploring economic diversification in Azerbaijan

Guest blog by Gasimli Vusal

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.

“Leading Economic Growth” program gave us the know-how we can start implementing to promote economic growth in our city, region, or country at this difficult time. Staff ensured us that the more we invest, the more we will derive from the program. 

My country, Azerbaijan, tripled its economy during the last 15 years and aims to double its economy relying on non-oil sector in the next 10 years. In post-conflict and post-pandemic period, accelerating growth is major target of Azerbaijan’s five national priorities outlined in the country’s “2030 Strategy,” which has been based on the United Nations’ “Transforming our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. After the peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan in November 2020, the latter immediately set to work on the decontamination, reconstruction, rehabilitation and reintegration of liberated Karabakh, which had suffered enormous destruction over the course of the occupation over the last 30 years. Reintegration of newly-released territories and 6 percent population growth perspective by 2030 create new opportunities and challenges from growth perspectives.

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Exploring export diversification in Trinidad and Tobago

Guest blog by Lebrechtta Hesse-Bayne

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.

The leading economic growth 2021 course exceeded my expectation. While the course overview gave an idea of what to expect, the tools provided were the icing on the cake. I am taking away from this course the key learnings or applying the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach. This step-by-step process helps you break down your problems into their root causes. One can identify entry points, search for possible solutions, take action, reflect upon what you have learned, adapt and then act again; this was an innovative learning experience.

Practitioners most often think they know the development challenges and try to address them by coming up with solutions. However, the PDIA approach allows you to understand the root causes of stagnating economic growth and manage your growth strategy and the binding constraint. The idea of high bandwidth organization was my second take away. The dynamism of this entity includes representatives from public and private sector organizations interested in addressing growth challenges.  Their modality of operation, which provides for consulting stakeholders to determine their challenges, the quick access to decision-makers to respond to the struggles firms are facing to promote economic growth and the learning which takes place when trying to find solutions, was inspiring.

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Panama Embassy official writes about promoting US-Panama trade ties

Guest blog by Franklin Morales, Head of Commercial and Economic Affairs at the Embassy of Panama in the United States.

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.

A few years ago, I became a diplomat of my country in the United States.  Over time, I gained more responsibility until I became the Head of the Commercial and Economic Section. I am responsible for investment promotion and building partnerships with the American private sector. Although I had previous experience in partnership building, I realized I needed additional tools to tackle some of the policy challenges I was facing.  I wanted to affect change and create public value, but I was uncertain about how to proceed.

Over the last 20 years, Panama has been a success story in terms of economic growth. The country attracted over 150 multinational headquarters, and its income per capita almost tripled in the same period. Although Panama made significant progress in reducing inequality while growing, distribution of income and opportunities remains a challenge in the eyes of most of its citizens and leaders.  Furthermore, growth in the last few years has stagnated, bringing a heightened risk of social dissatisfaction. The same risk that has affected other countries in the region. That is why Panama’s leaders want to promote growth through different avenues.  Two of those strategies include the Digital Hub Strategy and the Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. Both seek to diversify Panama’s exports to advanced sectors. Although these are not the only efforts in place, they are the ones that relate most to my job.  

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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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