Message From the Chair




Dr Martine Oleche         



The Department of Economics and Development Studies, fondly known as DEDS, trains Kenyan and international students in all fields of economics and development studies, thus contributing directly to sustainable human capital accumulation in Africa and beyond. DEDS has emerged as a destination of highly qualified students, young and experienced scholars; and importantly – of practitioners and senior policy makers who want to acquire analytical skills in various branches of economics and development.

The Department is the successor to the former School of Economics (SOE) and Institute of Development Studies (IDS). The two units were merged in July, 2021 in a University-wide reform of curricula, data, people and governance structures. DEDS is one of the largest departments in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) at the University. Its core mandates include teaching, learning, research, innovation, consultancy and community service.

The Department has an outstanding multidisciplinary and multipurpose research capacity in Kenya, in the African region and globally. It carries out research on high priority areas of social-economic development in Africa and world-wide. Some of the key areas of academic specializations include Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Statistics, Development Economics, Social-Economic Development, Environmental and Resource Economics, Macroeconomic Policy, Trade and Finance, Industrial and Enterprise Economics, Labor Economics, Health Economics, Poverty and Inequality Analysis, Development Theory, and Development Practice and Governance, to mention a few.

The Department's programmes prepare students for globally competitive careers and for further training in top universities worldwide.  The alumni of the department hold senior positions in governments, international organizations, and in research & academia, and are captains of industry in Africa and elsewhere. The Department maintains strong links with international and regional organizations globally. For example, The Department hosts Research Chairs for Environment for Development (EfD) programme in Eastern Africa, the World Trade Organization (WTO) Research Chair, and the Africa Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research (ACEIR) for Eastern Africa. DEDS is a longstanding member of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and participates in several of the Consortium’s flagship initiatives, notably, the Collaborative Master’s Programme (CMP) and the Collaborative Ph.D Programme (CPP).  Furthermore, the Department implements key Memoranda of Understanding signed between the University of Nairobi, e.g., the World Resources Institute (WRI), the American Institutes for Research (“AIR”), UN Women, University of Gothenburg, University of Cape Town, Climate Strategies-London, Roskilde University, Danish Institute for International Studies, UNEP and Duke Office of Research Support, among others.

Historically, economics as a discipline has been taught at the University of Nairobi since 1956, when the first students in the Royal Technical College of East Africa (the predecessor to the University of Nairobi) were admitted. The Institute for Development studies (IDS) on the other hand was founded on 8th October 1965. It is one of the oldest such institutes in Africa. It is the premier multi-disciplinary and a multi-purpose development research institute in the Eastern and Southern African region. The merger of the former Department of Economics with the former IDS, has created a landmark opportunity in innovative teaching and collaborative research. This landmark opportunity is not new as it existed in a different form in the late 1960s, and throughout the 1970s and 1980s when researchers and visitors with appointments at the IDS were required to teach in their parent departments.

Some of the visitors at the IDS at the time included James Tobin, who taught a second year undergraduate economics course;  Michael Todaro, who taught a master’s development economics course; John R. Harris, who earlier had collaborated with Michael Todaro  to construct the widely known and classic model of rural-urban migration in Kenya; Joseph Stiglitz, whose ideas on the economics of information crystallized (according to him) while at the IDS in the late 1960s. Peter A. Diamond, an expert in labor markets was a visitor at the institute and an affiliate of the department.

The reverse was also true: researchers and teachers with appointments at the Economics Department and in other university departments (e.g., political science, sociology, geography, history, law, education) ran research projects or held positions at IDS. Amongst them included Tony Killick, Judith Heyer, Dharam. Ghai, J.K. Maitha, Philip Mbithi,William Senga, Charles Okidi, and Shem Migot-Adholla, to mention a few..

The DEDS teaches service courses in the Faculties of Built Environment, Engineering, Education, Arts and Social Sciences. The degree programmes of the department include the following:

Undergraduate courses:

  • Bachelor of Economics
  • Bachelor of Economics and Statistics

Postgraduate courses:

  • Master of Arts in Economics
  • Master of Arts in Economic Policy Management
  • Masters of Development Studies
  • Master of Science in Health Economics and Policy

Doctoral Courses:

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies (offered through Thesis only)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (offered through coursework, examination and thesis)

We invite all our potential graduates and post graduate students to apply for degree programmes in our department. We are proud and very grateful to the University for enabling us to be a leading centre of excellence in teaching and multidisciplinary research. We invite alumni and stakeholders to come forward and partner with us as we strive to realize our vision of a world-class Centre of Scholarly Excellence in Training and Research in Economics and Development studies.

DEDS sends best wishes to all of its visitors, students, and staff.

Dr Martine Oleche

Chairman, DEDS, University of Nairobi

December 18, 2022.



Expiry Date