Professor Giles Mohan

Professor of International Development

I am a human geographer who gained his PhD from Liverpool University in 1993. My work concerns the politics of development, particularly the intermingling of territorial scales and transnational networks. I have taught at Liverpool University, the University of Central Lancashire, Portsmouth University and The Open University. I was a handling editor of the Review of African Political Economy and a member of the editorial boards of Political Geography, Antipode, Geography Compass, and the International Development Planning Review. I have also acted as consultant to Open University/BBC productions including African School, Indian School, Comic Relief, the Reith Lectures, and Why Poverty?

I have a new DFID-ESRC project on Chinese National Oil Companies in Africa, which assesses the impacts of these firms on African development. It builds on previous work on China-Africa relations. In 2007 I received an ESRC grant entitled The politics of Chinese engagement with African 'development': Case studies of Angola and Ghana. This was followed up in 2010 by a new ESRC grant on Chinese migrants as agents of development and another as part of a network under the ESRC’s Rising Powers Programme.

Previously I worked on the developmental impacts of the diaspora, based on both theoretical work and case studies of the Ghanaian diaspora in the UK and its linkages to Ghana. With my recent study of Chinese migrants in Africa I am keen to develop these insights around new migration trajectories and Africa’s development. This concern with the role of migrants in local development evolved out of my work on decentralised and participatory development, which is an on-going interest.

I am currently chair for TU875 War, Intervention and Development, a postgraduate course in the Masters programme on Development Management. TU875 is being replaced by T879 entitled Conflict and Development, which broadens the focus beyond war.

Chinese Engagement with Africa

The Politics of Chinese Engagement with African Development: Case Studies of Angola and Ghana

China's enhanced role within the global economy has profound political implications across the world, but takes a particular form in Africa. Meeting China's increased demand for resources from Africa and expanding her markets also means securing political influence. Over the ...

Chinese national oil companies and the economic development of African oil producers

After decades of being regarded as ‘basket cases’ some African economies are experiencing growth rates that are among the fastest in the world. Much of this growth is based on the export of commodities, like oil, to China and other emerging economies. Driving this engagement are Chinese national oil companies (NOCs). While we hypothesise that the Chinese do things ‘differently’ to other...

The social and political impacts of South-South migration

The social and political impacts of South-South migration: A comparative analysis of Chinese migrant integration in West Africa

China's impact on Africa has been discussed in terms of promoting 'bad' governance and/or signalling a new phase of 'imperialism'. Yet underlying these political and economic relationships is a profound social change in the shape of Chinese mi...

Asia Rising: A New Oriental Globalisation? - A symposium

Attracting more than 60 participants, together with papers and presentations of an extremely high quality, we're pleased to announce that the Asia Rising Symposium, held on 26 June, was a huge success. We'd very much like the event to be the first of many, so please do let us know your suggestions for future events.

Thank you to everyone who contributed so much to the day. Yo...

China in Africa

Is China ripping off Africa, as some people claim? Giles Mohan, Professor of International Development at The Open University has researched the subject and gives an informed answer. 

His most recent work concerns role of China in African development. In 2007 I received an ESRC grant entitled The politics of Chinese engagement with African 'development': Case studies of Angola and Ghana...

China's involvement in Africa

Prof Giles Mohan discusses implications of Chinese investment in Africa.

China’s engagement in Africa: Giles Mohan

Professor Giles Mohan, Open University, UK, lead researcher for a China-Africa project on oil and economic development supported by the DFID-ESRC Growth Research Programme (DEGRP). For more information, visit

Consultancy Opportunities - International Development Office

The International Development Office at the OU ( has occasional short-term project opportunities for work such as writing, editing, critical reading, and to run or support central OU academics in running workshops, for example in curriculum development or best practice authoring for open and distance learning. We are therefore seeking t...

Dams, development and the nation

Prof. Giles Mohan discusses the advantages and disadvantages of a Chinese company building a Ghanaian hydroelectric project.

Debunking stereotypes about Chinese

Prof. Giles Mohan interviewed by China Daily on his research on Chinese immigrants in Africa   

Research shows many negative assumptions about entrepreneurs from china doing business in africa

Chinese immigrants are making a great contribution to the economy of Africa, despite stereotypes and assumptions otherwise, says Giles Mohan, professor of internati...

Displacement and Development

Prof. Giles Mohan argues that development projects hold a greater responsibility for displacement than headline-grabbing humanitarian crises.

Elections, oil and a Chinese dam in Ghana

Prof. Giles Mohan 

"Ghanian economy and the involvement of the Chinese in their energy production"

Four Studentships in International Development and Inclusive Innovation 2

Four Studentships in International Development and Inclusive Innovation 

Department of Engineering and Innovation
Faculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology
Based in Milton Keynes
Full time – 3 years to start in October 2015 or February 2016
Approximate stipend of £13,863, tuition fee are covered 

The Open Univer...

Helping Africa to thrive in a changing global economy

Helping Africa to thrive in a changing global economy

The burgeoning economies of some rapidly developing countries, notably China, India and Brazil, are shifting the global balance of power dramatically.

Nowhere has the impact of these...

Implications for state capacity of Chinese investments in Africa.

Prof. Giles Mohan publishes working paper on the implications for state capacity of Chinese investments in Africa.

As part of the Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) research centre at the University of Manchester Giles Mohan has produced a working paper which assesses what the impacts of China might be on the current political system and the prospects for inclusive de...

Making sense of China

Prof. Giles Mohan 

"Why are celebrities protesting against Chinese activities in Africa? Why is Africa important to the Chinese? What are the implications for the rest of the world?"

Making space for African Development: Inaugural lecture

Professor of International Development Giles Mohan gave his inaugural lecture, Making Space for African Development

More than 100 people heard Professor Mohan bring his academic rigour, passion and personal engagement to argue:

  • development is something in which we’re all implicated
  • the rise of Asia is affecting the way the West thinks about development - ...

Making Space for African Development: Inaugural Lecture

Professor of International Development Giles Mohan will give his inaugural lecture, Making Space for African Development, on Wednesday 24 October. Inaugural lectures, which are open to all, are a public platform for the OU’s professorial staff both to demonstrate leadership in their field and to engage the wider community.

In his lecture, Giles will challenge the prevaili...

Two Studentships in International Development and Inclusive Innovation

Two Studentships in International Development and Inclusive Innovation 

Based in Milton Keynes
Full time – 3 years to start in October 2016
Approximate stipend of £13,863, tuition fee and fieldwork expenses are covered 

The Open University has a well-established research degrees programme with nearly 1200 full- and part-time postg...

What Will Shape China-Africa Relations In Next Decade?

As the President of Africa's largest trading partner, China visits Africa, speculations are rife as to the amount of deals expected to be inked during his visit. To discuss what will shape China-Africa trade relations next year; CNBC Africa is joined by Ross Harvey, Chief Executive of South Africa Institute of International Affairs and Giles Mohan, Professor of Internat...

Professor Giles Mohan

Development Policy and Practice
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 1908 653 654
Fax: +44 (0) 1908 654 825
E-mail: Giles Mohan