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The (economic) past is never past
Author: Ronel Beukes
Published: 28/05/2015

​South African research into economic history has gained momentum with the launch of the Laboratory for the Economics of Africa's Past (LEAP) at Stellenbosch University yesterday.

LEAP is affiliated to the SU Department of Economics.

"It brings together scholars and students interested in understanding and explaining the long-term economic development of Africa's diverse societies," says Dr Johan Fourie of the Department of Economics.

Congratulating the Department, Prof Stan du Plessis, Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, said he was delighted that the inaugural event of LEAP coincides with the 90th anniversay of the Faculty.

"Prof Sampie Terreblanche spent years to ensure that students of economics did not forget the past. During the last decade we've seen renewed interest in economic history. The World Economic History Congress, which was held in Stellenbosch in 2012, also provided momentum.

"Studying the historical development of an economy provides a context for existing challenges and a source of hypotheses to explain the trajectory of its evolution."

Dr Fourie added, "Economic history has become increasingly important as a framework for studying questions not just in economic history, but also in other fields of economics, particularly macroeconomics, microeconomics and development economics."

  • On the photo are some of the students and researchers at LEAP with, in the back row, Dr Johan Fourie (centre) and the Dean, Prof Stan du Plessis (far right); and, in the front row, Dr Sophia du Plessis (far left), Senior Lecturer in Economics.