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Executive Director's Message

It is with great pleasure that I present to you the African Economic Research Consortium’s (AERC) Annual Report. This report draws a curtain on the financial year 2016/17, and accounts for the performance of the organization against our Strategic Plan 2015-2020, during the second year of its implementation. The report reflects the key milestones achieved by AERC in its quest to enhance capacity building in the advancement of research and training to inform economic policies in Africa. The novel features of the current strategy are inclusive capacity building and quality enhancement; regional and global linkages; private sector engagement; enhanced visibility and policy impact; and promoting African stakeholder-ship and long-term sustainability of AERC. The strategy is informed by the evolving needs and current development imperatives in Africa.


Although the primary purpose of this report is to provide stakeholders with an accurate description of the AERC’s activities during the fiscal year, we recognize that the report is also a valuable source of information. In preparing the report, therefore, we have endeavoured to provide readers with a useful and informative picture of AERC’s performance over the past twelve months. When we look back at the year, a number of key events and themes stand out and define AERC.


As this report underscores, AERC has introduced an innovated bridge programme, a free standing institutional setting intended to address under representation by virtue of gender, language barrier, and fragile/post conflict status. This inclusive capacity building framework is enshrined in the current AERC Strategic Plan 2015-2020. The specific aim, in the context of fragile and post conflict states, is to build capacity and enhance the participation of individuals and institutions from these countries in the AERC training and research programmes. A significant portion of these researchers have since submitted research proposals to the highly competitive thematic research programme (and some already accepted), and hence bridging into the higher level AERC capacity building programme. The success in the research arm has inspired implementation of the bridge in the training arm, and the execution is under way.


On Collaborative Research, the project on “Capital Flight from Africa” was completed and a book of the framework papers published by the Oxford University Press (OUP). AERC, in collaboration with NORAD, launched the book in Oslo, Norway, as part of broader dissemination of the work. Also based on the collaborative AERC-World Bank research on service delivery indicators, the Bank is currently engaged in a new Africa wide flagship initiative to track service delivery in education and health across countries and over time in a comparable manner.


The Capacity for Service Delivery Indicators Project’s (CSDI) objective is to expand the capacity for analysis and use of SDI data in national policy dialogue on education and health in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania. Under the training programme, the Collaborative Master’s in Agricultural and Applied Economics (CMAAE) conducted an online course for blended learning facilitators under an online environment. Similarly, the very first joint Academic Advisory Board (and its sub-Committees) meeting was held in Mauritius during the period. The Collaborative Master’s Programme (CMAP) and Collaborative PhD (CPP) Joint Facility for Electives (JFE) was carried out successfully at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies (KSMS) in Nairobi, Kenya.


As part of enhanced private sector engagement, I would like to underscore one new activity in this report; the first ever farmer training workshop for Ethiopian farmers by the AERC was conducted in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The farmer training session took advantage of farmers attending the thesis dissemination workshop. These workshops are designed to take farmers to the next level, beyond the policy implications of the theses dissemination workshops. The focus on this particular one was on “Farming as a Business” with efforts to impart skills on commercialization of African agriculture, which is predominantly subsistence.


Regarding policy outreach, in March 13-14, 2017 AERC organized and hosted the signature AERC Senior Policy Seminar on the theme “Industrialization in Africa” in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The region-wide seminar brought together 121 participants, primarily African policy-makers and advisors drawn from the highest levels of government representing 24 countries. The senior policy seminar was an outstanding success, and generated a consensus communique adopted by African senior policy makers. This seminar was officially opened by Hon. Jean-Claude Brou, Minister for Industrialization and Mines, Cote d’Ivoire. This was a timely opportunity to explore policy options for accelerating the pace of industrialization on the continent. The seminar drew on research by the AERC network, and on a multi-year research programme involving many AERC affiliates. It was jointly sponsored by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Brookings Institution, and the United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER).


AERC senior policy seminars are forums designed specifically to bring together senior policy makers from sub-Saharan African countries to exchange experiences and deliberate on topical issues pertaining to sustainable development of their economies. Participants in these seminars are drawn from the highest levels of government, including the presidency, ministers, governors of central banks, heads of civil services, permanent secretaries and heads of government agencies and parastatals.


As a result of a large alumni base in the policy space, AERC has now cultivated considerable convening power. AERC’s convening power and its vast network are key assets in drawing partnerships globally. The DFIDESRC Growth Research Programme (DEGRP) and AERC brought together business, government and research stakeholders from Africa and beyond in a conference to explore attaining inclusive economies in low-income countries in Africa. The conference, which was attended by over 100 participants, was a forum for an intense dialogue based on rigor and evidence in the best of AERC traditions. It focused on leveraging agriculture, financial sector development, and innovation to build better economic opportunities for all.


The AERC Alumni Association (AERCAA) is now basically in place. This movement brings together individuals who have gone through the AERC capacity building and knowledge programmes. The key objective is to unify a strong voice for African Development and sustainability of AERC activities. This drive will enhance communication and Alumni retention. It is also expected to have a positive impact for resource mobilization. The AERC board has already approved an endowment fund to go with it.


AERC participated in the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit that was held on 26-28 August, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. In partnership with the Institute of Developing Economies, Japan External Trade Organization (IDE-JETRO), JETRO-Nairobi, and Overseas Development Institute (ODI), AERC mounted a successful side event on the theme “Industrialization, Private Sector Development and Economic Transformation in Africa: Challenges and Prosperity.” Participants in this event included policy makers, diplomats, academia, as well as private sector actors.


We are deeply indebted to the longstanding funding partners, including DFID, SIDA, NORAD, BMGF, IDRC, AfDB, World Bank, USAID, DANIDA, and ACBF, most of whom have been with AERC since its inception about three decades ago, and have nurtured this organization. I am pleased to inform you that African governments and institutions have begun joining hands in our strategy for sustainability of this wonderful African success story.


Among the key African institutions that support AERC are the African Central Banks, the Government of Kenya Treasury, and AfDB. Since the historic Livingstone Resolution of Central Banks in March 2015, three additional banks have become signatories to be members of the Consortium in accordance with the AERC bylaws. The growing African stakeholder-ship of AERC is further enhanced by the generous AfDB grant to AERC and a membership of Trade and Development Bank in the Consortium. Moreover, the Reserve Bank of South Africa has confirmed membership in the Forum, and it has already made its first disbursement. At the same time, an expansion plan for the Forum membership is under way to include two Francophone Central Banks.


Finally, we are pleased that AERC again emerged as among top International Development Think Tanks in the 2016 Global Index. AERC, which has consistently been ranked high over the last three years (between top 24 and 26), was placed at position 26 globally (top in Africa). Moreover, it is mentioned among the top in new categories, and particularly among the Best Independent Think Tanks internationally and among Think Tanks with the Most Significant Impact on Public Policy. This ranking programme involves 6,500 think tanks and other civil society actors worldwide in various categories, and it is conducted by The Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the Lauder Institute, University of Pennsylvania.


Our success is the result of the work done by AERC Management and Staff as well as many network members and international resource persons throughout the globe who have provided dedicated contributions and support to AERC. My deep gratitude also goes to the Board of Directors as well as the Programme Committee members.


The AERC annual report is a formal accountability document that details AERC’s activities and outcomes during the 2016/17 fiscal year. We are proud to have been part of these achievements as we leap forward into the next fiscal year and move AERC into the next level of excellence.


Prof. Lemma W. Senbet,

Executive Director,


African Economic Research Consortium


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Capital Flight from Africa: Causes, effects and Policy Issues

This edited collection provides the most comprehensive analysis of capital flight from Africa, covering economic and institutional aspects, as..


Institutions and Service Delivery in Africa

Collected in this book are framework papers prepared for the collaborative research project on Institutions and Service  Delivery in Africa..


The Macroeconomics of Africa’s Recent Growth

This volume is drawn from final research papers developed under the auspices and support of the Thematic Research Programme of the African ..