Morten has published widely on African economic development, and particularly on patterns of economic growth and on economic development statistics. His books are based on research in Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana. An economic historian, with a PhD from the London School of Economics, from 2009 he worked at the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada before being appointed as Associate Professor in Global Change and International Relations at Noragrica at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) in 2014. His first book Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It was published in 2013 by Cornell University Press and his latest, Economic Growth and Measurement Reconsidered in Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia, 1965-1995, by Oxford University Press in 2014.
How much do we know about income, growth and poverty in Africa? Much less than we would like to think. While the phrase ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’ reminds us that inaccurate statistics is not a problem particular to Africa, the magnitude of the knowledge problem recently led the World Bank Chief Economist for Africa to declare “Africa’s Statistical Tragedy”. This knowledge problem translates into a governance problem. Without reliable facts evidence based policy may turns into policy driven evidence – the opposite of what was intended. From the Millennium Development Goals to the ‘Data Revolution’ envisaged in the post-2015 round of future development indicators – there is an increasing demand for data. A new agenda for data for development in Africa is required – where local demand, incentives and applicability is at the center.