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Governance for Development in Africa

It is now widely appreciated, both in academic and policy circles, that good governance matters for sustainable development outcomes. It is evident that good governance is vital for economic and social development with properly designed mechanisms to hold decision makers accountable – be they political elites or corporate executives. With respect to good governance in the political sphere, accountability will foster transparency in the management of public finances, and help curb ills, such as corruption.



But what are the design features of well-functiong governance systems, both in the private and public sectors?  When it comes to Africa, how can governance schemes be tailored to local conditions? For instance, should the governance in low income countries mimic what works in advanced and high income countries? The answers are not as clear cut as we would hope. Yet for over 20 years ‘good governance’ has meant exactly that. Millions of dollars have been spent on programmes to make private enterprise work in Africa as it does in the US, elections work as they do in Sweden, audit authorities as in Germany and civil society campaigns as in the Netherlands – with results that have been mixed at best. Questions, such as these, motivated the AERC Plenary on “Governance for Development in Africa”.

There are channels for the positive linkage between good governance and good development outcomes. Good governance and accountability foster efficient utilization of available resources at all relevant levels, thus pushing leadership to hold their subordinates accountable for delivery. And accountability helps to foster transparency in resource management, which helps to mitigate iniquities, such as corruption and nepotism. That way, resources are put to their most productive use, rather than being wasted on unproductive or rent-seeking activities.

“Quality governance – both political/public and corporate governance – should be thought of as a key factor of production of growth and development. Hence, it should be at the center of transforming Africa in multiple arms, including capacity building, knowledge generation, as well as soft and hard infrastructure development. This is also an agenda for the AERC capacity building and knowledge framework, and what inspired the theme of the 47th plenary session of this AERC’s Biannual Research Workshop, says Prof. Lemma W. Senbet, Executive Director, AERC.


The Plenary Session of the Biannual Research Workshop took place on Sunday, December 3, 2017 at Mount Meru Hotel, Arusha, Tanzania. The chief Guest was His Excellency, Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein, President of Zanzibar; he was represented by his vice, Hon. Seif Sharif Hamad. This session featured three presentations by distinguished economists. Dr Abebe Shimeles, Acting Director and Manager of Development Research Division, AfDB, Cote d’Ivoire started off the proceedings with a look at Link between Tax Compliance and Good Governance in Selected African Countries. This was followed by the presentation onDoes Effective “Consumer Governance” Improve Trust in Banks? Evidence from Countries around the World by Dr Leora Klapper, Lead Economist, World Bank, USA; and the final paper was on Good Governance in Africa by Prof Massa Coulibaly, University of Bamako, Mali.


Discussions on these papers were led by Dr Rose Ngugi, Executive Director, Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA); Dr Elizabeth Nanziri, University of Oxford, UK; and Prof John Mbaku, Weber State University, USA. Thereafter, active and lively discussions by the participants made up of senior African policy makers, eminent economists from all over the world, development partners and researchers from Africa and beyond took place. A public/private sector policy roundtable followed later to wind up the activities for the day.


Concurrent sessions of the workshop started on Monday December 4, 2017. They featured 88 presentations of research proposals, work in progress, final reports and PhD theses proposals. These covered a wide range of topics that fit into the focal areas of AERC’s thematic research programme namely:  Group A: Poverty, Labour Markets and Income Distribution; Group B: Macroeconomic Policy and Growth; Group C: Finance and Resource Mobilization; Group D: Production, Trade and Economic Integration; and Group E: Agriculture, Climate Change and Natural Resource Management.


AERC also hosted three back-to-back workshops during this period at the same venue:

Ø  INCLUDE Workshop – “Who Can Create Jobs in Africa? Strategic Actors and Actions for Employment in Africa” – November 30 and December 1, 2017.

Ø  Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) research workshop December 2, 2017

Ø  AERC Policy Brief Training Workshop December,  7-8, 2017 with upto 25 participants including policy makers. The objective of this workshop was to build capacity and skills of researchers in communicating research to maximize uptake.

Ø  AERC Proposal Development workshop December,  7-9, 2017

Special short sesssions were also be conducted during the week:

Ø  INCLUDE – This took place on Monday, December 4, 2017.

Ø  GH Consultancy Feeding the World in 2050 by Gerbren Haaksma December 5, 2017.


Each of the AERC’s biannual research workshops attracts about 200 researchers, academics, policy makers, non-state actors and other economists who participate in the Research Programme. The workshops provide a forum in which the participants can meet each other within a worldwide network of professionals, and deal with issues relevant to Africa’s economic development. They also provide an opportunity for monitoring the progress and quality of the various research projects sponsored by AERC, thereby fulfilling one of its major mandates – to strengthen local capacity for conducting independent, rigorous inquiry into problems facing the management of economies in sub-Saharan Africa.

About African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)

African Economic Research Consortium, established in 1988, is a premier capacity building institution in the advancement of research and training to inform economic policies in sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of the most active Research and Capacity Building Institutions (RCBIs) in the world, with a focus on Africa. AERC’s mission rests on two premises: First, that development is more likely to occur where there is sustained sound management of the economy. Second, that such management is more likely to happen where there is an active, well-informed cadre of locally-based professional economists to conduct policy-relevant research. AERC builds that cadre through a programme that has three primary components: research, training and policy outreach. The organization has now emerged as a premier capacity building network institution integrating high quality economic policy research, postgraduate training and policy outreach within a vast network of researchers, universities and policy makers across Africa and beyond. AERC has increasingly received global acclaim for its quality products and services, and is ranked highly among global development think tanks.





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