Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Ibrahim Elbadawi

Editorial board

Ibrahim Elbadawi
Managing Director, Economic Research Forum (ERF)

Ibrahim Elbadawi is the Managing Director of the Economic Research Forum (since January 2017- August 2019; August 2020- present). Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Republic of Sudan (Sept 2019-July 2020). Professor Emeritus, University of Khartoum. Before that he was Director at the Economic Policy & Research Center, the Dubai Economic Council (2009-2016); Lead Economist at the Development Research Group of the World Bank, which he joined in 1989; and Professor of economics at the University of Gezira in Sudan. He holds a PhD in economics and statistics from North Carolina State and Northwestern universities in the USA. During his work at the World Bank he also served as Research Director of the African Economic Research Consortium (Nairobi, 1993-1998), on external leave from the Bank. He has edited 13 books and special editions of referred journal and published about 90 articles on macroeconomics, growth and development policy, democratic transitions and the economics of civil wars and post-conflict transitions. His regional specialization covers Africa and the Middle East. He is also a (non-resident) research fellow with the Center for Global Development. Dr. Elbadawi is the editor of (with Hoda Selim) of: Understanding and Avoiding the Oil Curse in Resource-rich Arab Economies (Cambridge University Press, 2016); and, Ibrahim Elbadawi (with Samir Makdisi). Democratic Transitions in the Arab World. (Cambridge University Press: 2016).

Content by this Author

To escape the crisis, embark on a path of renewal

In the chaotic global post-Covid-19 economy, with the war in Ukraine, the challenge of adjusting to the stagflation engulfing the world is particularly hard for the oil-importing countries of the Middle East and North Africa. This column summarises the key messages of a report from the MENA Commission on Stabilization and Growth.

Prospects for Sudan’s peace agreement in the shadow of the coup

The Juba Agreement for Power Sharing in Sudan (JAPS) signed in late 2020 raised hopes of ending almost two decades of internal armed conflict in Sudan, but the military coup of October 2021 has thrown doubt on whether the peace process can succeed. This column summarises research concluding that even without the coup, the JAPS alone would have been insufficient to bring peace and democracy to the country.

Covid-19 impacts could be severe and long-lasting for developing countries

The United Nations High-level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs, of which ERF Managing Director Ibrahim Elbadawi is a member, convened its first meeting recently. As this column reports, the experts urge international solidarity to prevent the Covid-19 crisis from pushing countries further apart.

An appeal for Sudan’s future

Sudan today is on a knife-edge: it can evolve toward peace and democracy – or spiral into instability and violence. As this Project Syndicate column argues, vital and timely international assistance can make the difference between success and failure for the new government.

Sustainability of GCC development under the new global oil order

It is now a widely held view that the price of oil will eventually be converging to a lower long-term trend. Together with growing demands for political change in the MENA region, this implies the need for many countries to reconsider their growth models and their underlying social contract. This column considers the implications for the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Knowledge, research networks and development policy: the ERF at 25

ERF’s annual conference has become the premier regional event for economists of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This column previews the 2019 conference, which takes place in Kuwait City next week (10-12 March) and which marks the 25th anniversary of the ERF. The central focus will be on the knowledge economy as an economic development model for the region.

The new normal in the global economy: challenges for MENA

ERF’s annual conference has become the premier regional event for economists of the Middle East. This column previews the 2018 conference, to be held in Cairo in July, where the main theme will be the challenges for the region of the likelihood of a relatively sustained period of low oil prices as well as disruptive cyclical movements around the long-term price trend – the so-called ‘new normal’ in the global economy. Special sessions will also discuss the challenges of inequality; climate change and environmental damage; and solidarity, economy and social justice.

forum Talks – Introducing the forum

Ibrahim Elbadawi introduces the forum, ERF’s new policy portal to promote evidence-based policy analysis and commentary by leading economists for the region, building on ERF's network, expertise and body of knowledge.

Most read

Social insurance in Egypt: between costly formality and legal informality

The rates of participation of Egyptian workers in contributory social insurance has continued to decline, even during times when the country has had positive annual growth rates. This column discusses key institutional elements in the design of the current social insurance scheme that have contributed to the growing gap in coverage, particularly the scheme’s cost and eligibility requirements.

Making trade agreements more environmentally friendly in the MENA region

Trade policy can play a significant role in efforts to decarbonise the global economy. But as this column explains, there need to be more environmental provisions in trade agreements in which developing countries participate – and stronger legal enforcement of those provisions at the international level. The MENA region would benefit substantially from such changes.

Jordan: navigating through multiple crises

Jordan’s real GDP per capita is today no higher than it was 40 years ago. While external factors have undoubtedly had an adverse effect on the country’s economic outcomes, weak macroeconomic management and low public spending on investment and the social sectors have also played a substantial role. This column explores what can be done to reduce high public debt, accelerate private sector development and enhance social outcomes.

Iran’s globalisation and Saudi Arabia’s defence budget

How might Saudi Arabia react to Iran's renewed participation in global trade and investment? This column explores whether the expanding economic globalisation of Iran, following the lifting of nuclear sanctions, could yield a peace dividend for Saudi Arabia, consequently dampening the Middle East arms competition. These issues have attracted increased attention in recent times, notably after a pivotal agreement between the two countries in March 2023, marking the resumption of their political ties after a seven-year conflict.

Egypt and Iraq: amenities, environmental quality and taste for revolution

The Middle East and North Africa is a region marked by significant political turbulence. This column explores a novel dimension of these upheavals: the relationship between people’s satisfaction with, on one hand, the amenities to which they have access and the environmental quality they experience, and, on the other hand, their inclination towards revolutionary actions. The data come from the World Value Survey collected in 2018 in Egypt and Iraq.

Global value chains and domestic innovation: evidence from MENA firms

Global interlinkages play a significant role in enhancing innovation by firms in developing countries. In particular, as this column explains, participation in global value chains fosters a variety of innovation activities. Since some countries in the Middle East and North Africa display a downward trend on measures of global innovation, facilitating the GVC participation of firms in the region is a prospective channel for stimulating underperforming innovation.

Labour market effects of robots: evidence from Turkey

Evidence from developed countries on the impact of automation on labour markets suggests that there can be negative effects on manufacturing jobs, but also mechanisms for workers to move into the services sector. But this narrative may not apply in developing economies. This column reports new evidence from Turkey on the effects of robots on labour displacement and job reallocation.

Food insecurity in Tunisia during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

Labour market instability, rising unemployment rates and soaring food prices due to Covid-19 are among the reasons for severe food insecurity across the world. This grim picture is evident in Tunisia, where the government continues to provide financial and food aid to vulnerable households after the pandemic. But as this column explains, the inadequacy of some public policies is another important factors causing food insecurity.

Do capital inflows cause industrialisation or de-industrialisation?

There is a clear appeal for emerging and developing economies, including those in MENA, to finance investment in manufacturing industry at home with capital inflows from overseas. But as the evidence reported in this column indicates, this is a potentially risky strategy: rather than promoting industrialisation, capital flows can actually lead to lower manufacturing value added and/or a reallocation of resources towards industries with lower technology intensity.

Manufacturing firms in Egypt: trade participation and outcomes for workers

International trade can play a large and positive role in boosting economic growth, reducing poverty and making progress towards gender equality. These effects result in part from the extent to which trade is associated with favourable labour market outcomes. This column presents evidence of the effects of Egyptian manufacturing firms’ participation in exporting and importing on their workers’ productivity and average wages, and on women’s employment share.