Reclaiming the 21st Century: The Case for Structural Economic Transformation in Africa

TOKYO & ONLINE: On 19 July 2023, UNU will host a BIG IDEAS Dialogue with Raymond Gilpin, Chief Economist at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.

On 19 July 2023, UNU will host “Reclaiming the 21st Century: The Case for Structural Economic Transformation in Africa”, a BIG IDEAS Dialogue with Raymond Gilpin, Chief Economist and Head of Strategy, Analysis and Research at the Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme. This hybrid event (online and in-person) will start at 18:00 on Zoom and in the 2F Reception Hall at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo 

A new narrative of ‘Africa rising’ had started to take a foothold in media and politics in recent years, representing a major shift in the way the continent was perceived. Africa seemed to have it all lined up — improved governance, dynamic demographic trends, homegrown innovation driven by digital technologies and diversified partnerships. In the context of G7 Hiroshima Summit, the engagement of the global South took a central stage.

However, recent overlapping crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, the adverse impacts of climate change, and the repercussions of current geopolitical tensions now threaten to erode decades of development gains and cast a dark pall over the African continent’s immediate future. Certainly, a crisis can bring high levels of disruption and devastation. It can, however, also inspire ingenuity and solidarity. During the COVID-19 global health emergency, Africa has put its best foot forward to demonstrate what resilience, innovation and solidarity mean in the hardest of times.

Now, African countries and citizens have an opportunity to re-imagine their future — one that is less dependent, more prosperous, less vulnerable and more united. The fundamentals needed to power Africa’s structural and economic transformation are already in place, towards a more just, sustainable and resilient future. Africa offers new opportunities linked to, for instance, increased intra-Africa trade, a burgeoning and talented youth population and the rapid digital revolution taking root across the continent.

Mr Gilpin will join UNU Senior Vice-Rector Sawako Shirahase to discuss the prospects of Africa’s structural economic transformation, envisioning a more just, sustainable and resilient future. The event will outline fundamentals central to power structure and economic transformation for the continent in the evolving global context, and abundant opportunities that the continent would offer for its population and partners across the globe.

Please note this event will be in English; Japanese interpretation will not be provided. Advance registration by 18 July is required.

Additionally, please be prepared to present identification at check-in.


To attend this event in person at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo, register here:

To attend this event online via Zoom webinar, register here:

< Online participants will receive an email on the day of the event with a link to join the Zoom webinar.

About the speaker

Raymond Gilpin is Chief Economist and Head of the Strategy, Analysis and Research Team at the Regional Bureau for Africa, United Nations Development Programme in New York. In this capacity he provides leadership on all matters related to economic analysis, strategy and research in UNDP's Africa bureau, and manages the bureau's network of economists. 

Prior to joining UNDP, he was the academic dean at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington DC and economics director at the United States Institute of Peace, where he also chaired the taskforce on business and peace and managed the International Network for Economics and Conflict. He has also worked at the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Central Bank of Sierra Leone, where he served as research director. 

Dr. Gilpin was inducted into the Martin Luther King Collegium of Scholars at the historic Morehouse College in Atlanta in 2015 in recognition of this work on economics and peace. He holds a doctorate in development economics from Cambridge University in the UK. 

About the series

The BIG IDEAS: SDGs Dialogue Series introduces the people, projects, and organisations behind shared efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Each event features leading representatives and researchers from international organisations, UN agencies, and UNU institutes to stimulate discussion on sustainable development issues and initiatives. The events provide a unique opportunity for young researchers, graduate students, and civil society to become more familiar with SDG-related topics, ask questions, and learn how they can contribute to local and global SDG progress.


Raymond Gilpin

Chief Economist and Head of Strategy, Analysis and Research — Regional Bureau for Africa
United Nations Development Programme