Building Leadership and Excellence in Research Policy

The year 2015 saw the Research Programme (RP) reconfigure its operations to enhance and ensure high quality, cost effective programmes.

The programme maintained its efforts at ensuring quality control for all its products and integrating policy actors into its work to facilitate the use of research findings. In this regard, 14 policy research reports were submitted to external peer reviewers. Through the reconfigured Principal Investigator (PI) approach, and the integration of policy actors right from the inception workshops, the programme situated itself as a leader in innovative policy engaged research. The publishing initiative got a shot in the arm after PASGR put in place a publication policy, paving the way for the production of various publications. The policy demands that all publications, including books and working papers, undergo rigorous peer review.

RP Director Nicholas Awortwi attributes the new policy to the increase of PASGR-supported studies over the years. “We have a track record of research projects and publications,” he says. With the publication policy in place, 2015 saw PASGR embark on developing a chain of publications starting with 14 Working Papers, journal articles and edited book volumes.

During the year, the RP worked with commissioned editors and study authors and researchers to extract chapters from various research reports for inclusion in edited books lined up for publication in 2016. The manuscripts stretch back to 2012.

Two new research projects—(i) Political Economy and Settlements Analysis of Employment Creation in Agriculture and Agro-processing Schemes in the Context of Inclusive Growth, and (ii) Urban Governance and Turning African Cities Around— dominated the programme calendar. They were launched at workshops on April 29 to 30 and May 18 to 19, respectively.

The employment-creation project, to run in Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria, is co-funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and UK’s Department for International Development (DfID). The three countries were agreed on by PASGR and the PI from a mapping study of 10 countries including Botswana, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. The selection was based on a set of pre-agreed criteria, which included the presence of agriculture and agro-processing schemes and coverage of different types of African political settlements.

Twenty-three participants attended the project inception workshop. They included four women, the PI, Prof Raufu Mustapha (University of Oxford), reference group members Dr David Booth (Overseas Development Institute), Dr Kate Meagher (London School of Economics) and Dr Hazel Gray (University of Edinburgh), who constitute a body of quality assurance resource persons. Two country policy actors per country, two case study researchers per country and PASGR staff completed the cast. The workshop discussed the research approach, the study’s overall inputs and outputs, research plans, timelines, potential challenges and their solutions. The three studies are expected to be completed mid-2016.

The Urban Governance study focused on three cities, namely, Johannesburg (South Africa), Lagos (Nigeria) and Luanda (Angola). Cities’ selection followed the same principle used for the employment study. Eighteen participants, five of them women, attended the inception workshop. Prof Edgar Pieterse of African Centre for Cities is the PI. Each city studied at least two infrastructure flagship projects that signify the turnaround. The September Research Committee (RC) meeting saw PASGR Executive Director Tade Aina break with tradition to invite HEP Director Beatrice Muganda. Programme heads will henceforth attend all future meetings. The RC also resolved to free research projects from the one-year completion time-frame that was found to be too tight. Projects will be deemed complete after reports have been externally reviewed and revised by their authors.