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The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa or CODESRIA has planned a number of new programmes for 2020, including an advanced policy reflections intervention meant to encourage African governments and institutions to work more closely with local academia instead of “running to China, Europe and America” for consultants.
Under the CODESRIA Advanced Research Policy Dialogue (CARD) project, policy dialogue with African policy-makers, governments and institutions will be initiated, the ultimate aim being to promote cooperation and closer working relations between the actors.
According to Godwin Murunga, CODESRIA executive secretary, it is hoped that at the end of the series of dialogues, policy institutions and governments in Africa will rely more heavily on indigenous African knowledge-producing institutions for its policy consultations, as opposed to the recent trend which has seen African governments favouring foreign thinkers, including those from China.
“We envisage a situation where African policy actors will stop seeking academics based in universities and think tanks abroad to consult on things that we Africans can solve, and which ultimately come to us from the same people consulted abroad because we are the local experts,” said Murunga.
Dialogue will be initiated with governments, continental bodies such as the African Union, United Nations agencies as well as regional bodies, the executive secretary told University World News in a recent interview.
“We want to stop our institutions from running to China, Europe and America to seek consultation services. We are confident that as African intellectuals we have the research outputs that are most useful to Africa,” he said.
The Ford Foundation through its East, West and Southern Africa offices is supporting the initiative which is part of the Women and Girls Engagement in Civic Spaces programme funded to the tune of US$350,000.
The CARD project will run for two years but in the long term it seeks to engage local institutions “as a process” rather than an event, Murunga said.
At the same time the Dakar-based social sciences body is in negotiations with Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), with a view to securing funding for a project focused on solutions to challenges in the Sahel region. The council is partnering with the Beirut-based Arab Council for Social Sciences in the endeavour.
The project aims to “re-imagine” the Sahel and provide security solutions for the region, which includes Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Sudan and Mauritania.
“This initiative will seek ways of knowing and understanding the region and hopefully coming up with a non-military solution to its security-related challenges,” said Murunga.
It will facilitate a multiplicity of activities including training, publications and “policy reflections” packaged through documentaries, films and poetry, among other tools – all aimed at achieving a better understanding of security and livelihood issues of the Sahel, plus solutions.
Murunga said CODESRIA will seek to “speak for Africa and on Africa’s behalf” through different objectives it plans to include in its next strategic plan.
Among other things, it will seek to invest more in young and middle-level academics, to nurture the next “titans” of African social science.
“As CODESRIA, we will strive to create the next cadre of African social scientists who can project the African voice in the global knowledge debate,” he said.