Making Most of the Commodities

By: Raphael Kaplinsky
Funding period - Friday 01 February 2013

Making Most of the Commodities

The disruptive entry of China into the global economy, with its thirst for minerals and energy and its prowess in manufacturing, has had a major impact on the terms of trade. India’s impending entry is likely to exacerbate this shift in relative prices. This
shift in relative prices poses both challenges and opportunities for SSA, including constraining the prospects of the manufacturing sector.

The Making the Most of Commodities Programme (MMCP) addresses the opportunities opened for SSA minerals and energy producing economies. Its primary focus is on how to enhance these economic and social opportunities arising from the
exploitation of primary commodities. This requires policies to exploit SSA mineral resources particularly through the alignment of the National System of Innovation with the commodities sector. Furthermore the MMCP will focus on the opportunities
of an expanded commodities specialisation for other productive sectors (upstream and downstream linkages), inequality and governance.

With this distinctive focus on primary level research the MMCP addresses five knowledge gaps:
1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the National Systems of Innovation (NSI) in relation to the commodities sector, and how might it be more effectively utilised to enhance the exploitation and value addition of the commodities sector?
2. What determines the size, nature and development of upstream linkages feeding into the minerals sector?
3. What determines the size, nature and development of downstream linkages using the output of the minerals sector?
4. What are the distributional outcomes consequent on the exploitation of commodities, including ownership, labour utilisation and size-composition of upstream and downstream linkages?
5. What are the implications of the entry of new foreign investors in the SSA commodities sector and policy levers can be employed to gain maximal national advantage?

This research agenda will be pursued in a context which strengthens research capabilities in SSA, builds and sustains research networks and interfaces closely with policy makers at the national, regional and global level. Primary research will be
conducted with key informants in the NSI, and upstream and downstream linkages in the commodities sector.


Making The Most Of The Commodity Boom In Sub Saharan Africa’ 

By Mike Morris, Raphael Kaplinsky and David Kaplan

The Commodity Price Boom, starting in 2002 has led to an increased interest in the role of commodities in development. Many African countries have experienced increased investment and trade in their commodities sectors, but little is known about the extent of linkages from these investments.

In One Thing Leads to Another researchers from the Open University and the University of Cape Town, use their findings on factors affecting the breadth and depth of commodity related industrial linkages in a variety of sectors and countries to develop an analytic framework.

This book will interest policy makers in the public and private sector involved in industrialisation of the resource sector, as well as those researching resource, industrial and trade policy. It also adds to understanding development strategy in the context of the impact of China and other emerging economies on Africa.

A printed copy (£5.43 + postage) can be ordered here.


Promoting Industrial Diversification in Resource Intensive Economies 2012, prepared by Prof. Raphael Kaplinsky and Dr. Masuma Farooki, under the supervision of Ludovico Alcorta, Director of the Development Policy, Statistics and Research Branch, UNIDO.

The report covers the key issues researchers, policy-makers and industrial stakeholders need to be aware of to promote industrial diversification in resource intensive economies. It also provides practical insights on how to address the policy imperatives of many of these economies in order to foster economic and social development, and to meet the needs of their populations.

The EI Source Book: Good-Fit Practice Activities in the International Oil, Gas & Mining Industries - A free online, interactive resource containing a library of documents for download, built around nine narrative Chapters of extractives industries content.

Book: 'The Impact of China on Global Commodity Prices' by Masuma Farooki and Raphael Kaplinsky. 

Report by McKinsey & Company: Resource Revolution


See Discussion Papers for the latest research findings of the program



Papers prepared for the The Annual Conference of the Chinese Economic Association (UK) and CEA (Europe) 12-13 July 2010 at the University of Oxford (UK)

Masuma Farooki: China’s Commodities Demand, The Financial Crisis And Economic Recovery - What Now For Resource Rich African Economies? 

Juila Tijaja: The Impact of China's Demand on Domestic Value Chains - Lessons from the Cassava Value Chains in Thailand

Anne Terheggen: China's Impact on Tropical Timber Vale Chain in Gabon

World Bank Working Papers: 
Kaplinsky and Farooki (2010): What Are the Implications for Global Value Chains When the Market Shifts from the North to the South?

Kaplinsky, Tijaja and Terheggen (2010): What Happens When The Market Shifts To China ? The Gabon Timber And Thai Cassava Value Chains

Discussion papers:

Coming Soon: Special Issue of The Resources Policy Journal based on MMCP research papers

Discussion Papers

DP 1: Linkages in Ghana’s Gold Mining Industry: Challenging the Enclave Thesis 
(Robin Bloch and George Owusu)

DP 2: Chinese Construction Companies in Angola: A Local Linkages Perspective 
(Lucy Corkin)

DP 3: Development and Knowledge Intensification in Industries Upstream of Zambia’s Copper Mining Sector 
(Judith Fessehaie)

DP 4: The Drive to Increase Local Procurement in the Mining Sector in Africa: Myth or Reality? 
(Chris Hanlin)

DP 5: South African Mining Equipment and Related Services: Growth, Constraints and Policy 
(David Kaplan)

DP 6: Linkages in Botswana’s Diamond Cutting and Polishing Industry 
(Letsema Mbayi)

DP 7: The Nature and Determinants of Linkages in Emerging Minerals Commodity Sectors: A Case Study of Gold Mining in Tanzania 
(Vuyo Mjimba)

DP 8: Enhancing Linkages of Oil and Gas Industry in the Nigerian Economy 
(T. Ademola Oyejide and Adeolu O. Adewuyi)

DP 9: The Contribution to Local Enterprise Development of Infrastructure for Commodity Extraction Projects: Tanzania's Central Corridor and Mozambique's Zambezi Valley 
(Dave Perkins and Glen Robbins)

DP 10: The Tropical Timber Industry in Gabon: A Forward Linkages Approach to Industrialisation 
(Anne Terheggen)

DP 11: Backward Linkages in the Manufacturing Sector in the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Angola 
(Zefferino Teka)

DP 12: "One Thing Leads to Another" Commodities, Linkages and Industrial Development_ A Conceptual Overview (Revised)
(Mike Morris, Raphael Kaplinsky, and David Kaplan)

DP 13: Commodities and Linkages: Industrialisation in SSA
(Mike Morris, Raphael Kaplinsky, and David Kaplan)

DP 14: Commodities and Linkages: Meeting the Policy Challenge 
(Mike Morris, Raphael Kaplinsky, and David Kaplan)


Presentations & Events


Making the Most of Commodities: From Theory to Practice (Kaplinksy: UNCTAD June 2010)

The Rise of The Asian Drivers and the Implications for Africa (Kaplinsky)

What Happens In Global Value Chains When The Final Market Shifts From The North To The South? (Kaplinsky, Tijaja, Terheggen and Farooki)

China and Commodities: Does A Southern Engine of Growth Lead to Disruptive Development? (Kaplinsky et al)


The Southern Engines of Growth and Hard Commodity Prices: Does China Lead to Disruptive Development? (Farooki)



MMCP Workshop March 2010

Diamonds in Botswana (Mbayi)

Making the Numbers Work for you (Farooki)

Promoting Sustainable Business Linkages -UNCTAD’s approach (Farinelli)



For More Information contact:


Prof. Raphael Kaplinsky:

Prof. Mike Morris:

My three years at the Open University, and at the DPP, were filled with such fond memories. The experience itself was life-changing and it had certainly helped me prepare for life after the PhD

Julia Tijaja