The Bartlett Development Planning Unit

Dr Naji Makarem

Dr Naji Makarem

Associate Professor

Development Planning Unit

Faculty of the Built Environment

Joined UCL
18th Sep 2013

Research summary

My research has focused on highly advanced economies in California and emerging economies in Africa. A cross-cutting theme of my work has been on the ability of institutions to respond appropriately to the challenges and opportunities brought about by our current transition into the new economy. 

My research in California has culminated in our co-authored book called “The rise and fall of urban economies: Lessons from San Francisco and Los Angeles”, published by Stanford University Press in 2016 (with Michael Storper, Tom Kemeny and Taner Osman). I published my findings about the the role of the social structure and business-civic leadership in the economic success of the Bay Area, published in Sage - Environment & Planning C (2016).

My research in Nigeria has been through consultancy projects for the World Bank and the Department for International Development (DFID). I co-authored a baseline reports on Nigeria such as "Economic Development in Urban Nigeria" (2015), I contributed industrial and spatial analysis and co-authored Chapter 2 of the World Bank Nigeria Urbanisation Review, "From Oil to Cities: Nigeria's next transformation" (2016) and projects on the industrial composition and business-civic leadership across Nigeria.

Since 2017 I have been doing less consulting research and turned my attention on action-research in social entrepreneurship and humane business-platforms. I am the co-founder and managing partner at Wakanda Social Enterprise CIC, Digital Good Governance for Africa CIC (DIGA) and its RestoreNaija campaign, a transformative initiative to bring digital e-voting to the 2023 general elections in Nigeria. 

Teaching summary

I teach on the following modules:

• Dev0019 - Practice in Urban Economic Development

• Dev0015 - Critical ideas of development: Conceptions and realities (Two sessions in T2)

• Dev0014 - Industrialization & Infrastructure (Half module)

• Special lunchtime sessions


My work lies at the intersection of theory and practice, which allows me to conceptualise and theorise while continuously grounding my perspective to the challenges and opportunities of implementing projects and transformative initiatives in the field. 

I believe there is potential to grow the social enterprise sector to become a leading force in development through markets and the private sector. 

This requires a theoretical perspective on development and a practical and innovative approach to doing business.

Social enterprises lie at the nexus of charities and responsible businesses as a joint force and movement for social and economic development. 

I am the co-founder of the following responsible consulting platform and two social enterprises:

> UrbanEmerge is an inclusion and sustainable development consultancy. We operate as a close-knit network of trusted consultants and experts who collaborate to win and deliver meaningful consulting work across 4 service areas: Thriving Economies, Sustainable Cities, Responsible Companies and Enabling Technologies. Visit www.urbanemerge.com to learn more.

> Digital Good Governance for Africa CIC (DIGA) is a social enterprise with the purpose of leveraging technology for good governance in Africa. Our first initiative, RestoreNaja is spearheading a movement for digital democracy in Nigeria in time for the 2023 general elections. Learn more about our launch event in Abuja on the 18th of November, funded by the department for International Development (DFID) with the support of UCL - DPU: Visit us on  https://www.restorenaija.org and Join the Call to Action to all Nigerians and friends of Nigeria!

> Wakanda Social Enterprise CIC is the not-for-profit arm of Wakanda Group, an impact investment company. Our first not-for-profit project funded by the CSR budget of Liebfeld Electronics is making solar power accessible to lower-income rural households and SMEs in the Delta State of Nigeria. Learn more at www.wakanda-group.com.