My main research topics have been firms and workers in Sub-Saharan Africa. Motivated by the growth of apparel exports from Africa to the US in the early 2000s, my colleagues and I at IDE conducted several surveys of firms in the garment industry to investigate the potential for industrialization in Africa. Because there are few empirical studies on exporting industries in Africa, we performed a comparative firm-level analysis with Asian countries and delivered policy recommendations for international organizations.
Given the large youth population in Africa, my interests have gradually shifted to labor economics, in particular, youth employment issues. Currently, I am working on topics such as vocational training, digital technology in informal sectors, and gender issues in garment factories.
Current research projects
I have been researching vocational training policy in Ethiopia in collaboration with other researchers and a government agency. This research explores policy issues related to vocational training, which may not effectively improve youth employment without substantial changes in labor demand. We are currently investigating skill mismatch and the signaling of vocational skills while collecting employment data on young graduates as well as administrative data.
I have also started researching digital technology and informal business in Africa. Most informal businesses have been drastically affected by information and communications technology, and the welfare of the urban poor is also affected. This research will investigate both the beneficial and adverse effects of digital technology on the urban informal sector.
I am also researching two topics related to my work on the garment industry. One is gender issues in the garment factories in Asia, for which I am collaborating with an apparel retail company. The other involves constructing a model of structural transformation in Africa, where no significant progress has yet emerged.