Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

TALK: 'Why Asia becomes richer - and Africa not', Prof. Roel van der Veen

  • Wann 04.11.2015 von 18:00 bis 20:00
  • Wo Invalidenstraße 118, Raum 117
  • iCal

'Why Asia becomes richer - and Africa not'


Talk by

Prof. Roel van der Veen (Universtity of Amsterdam)



Prof. Roel van der Veen from the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands is an expert on historical development issues. He published books on both African development (or the lack of it) and Asian development. In his lecture he will speak on the unprecedented changes in the people’s standards of living over the last sixty years, worldwide. Despite explosive population growth, it has proved possible to dramatically elevate the quality of life. On average people’s lives have improved on every continent, but with an important exception: Sub-Saharan Africa. That continent is the only large contiguous region left out of the worldwide rise in prosperity. Why is that? Roel van der Veen will explain Africa’s development problems using political economy analysis. He will compare this story of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with that of several Asian countries, that sixty years ago were just as poor as African countries, but which have since succeeded in creating spectacular growth in all aspects of society. Why could these Asian countries do what African countries failed to do? Finally, Roel van der Veen will look into the recent phenomenon of growth of African economies. What causes this growth and what will it mean for the African people?



Roel van der Veen studied history, medicine and philosophy. 27 years ago he joined the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served in various positions in The Hague and as a political officer at the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. His work for the MFA focused especially on Dutch relations with Africa and Asia, and with policy development and strategy. Since 2007 he is the Academic Advisor of the Netherlands MFA. Over the years he has also taken up academic work. He wrote many articles and two books (in Dutch) on the development of Africa and Asia. His Africa book was also published in English, French, Chinese and Swedish. He received his PhD in 2004 on a dissertation called ‘The disintegration of states in Africa: The interaction of politics, economics, culture and social relations, 1957-2003’. In 2009 he became a part-time professor of International Relations at the University of Amsterdam and in 2010 he also became a part-time professor of Dutch Foreign Policy at the University of Groningen. Roel van der Veen played a pivotal role in setting up the Tracking Development comparative research project. He also participated in various other international research projects on development issues, sponsored by Dutch development cooperation.