The WUN Global Africa Group (GAG) successfully convened its third Annual Research Workshop at the University of Nairobi from 29-30 November 2018, following previous workshops in Accra and Cape Town. The 2018 workshop examined the roles of collaborative research in achieving the SDGs in the East Africa region and explored opportunities and challenges for research-policy linkages.
The aspirations for the African Union’s Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want challenges governments, scholars and the international community to contribute meaningfully to Africa’s development agenda. Previous development agendas, many of which were imposed on African states, did not yield the expected results. Instead, they opened up Africa for exploitation and also marginalised ordinary people. In the era of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is expected that research will provide much of the data and evidence needed to guide policy formulation and decision making. Two questions arise from this expectation: how can or should the research community organise itself to play a critical role in Africa’s development? How should research on SDGs engage with existing policies but also translate into impactful policies for ‘The Africa We Want’.
The Nairobi workshop delivered on GAG’s strategic approach to develop regional research hubs—East, West and Southern Africa—that are anchored on the WUN’s member universities on the continent while drawing in regional researchers and other interested organisations and networks. Developing such regional hubs appreciates regional variation and context-specific development challenges to which research should contribute in tangible ways. This, furthermore, provides a platform for developing regional policy responses to Agenda 2063 and the SDGs.
Convened by GAG Co-Chairs* Maano Ramutsindela (UCT) and David Mickler (UWA), the collegial workshop had 60 active participants from East Africa and the wider WUN membership, comprised of senior and postgraduate researchers and regional policy and media practitioners. The workshop combined a forum with a series of practical masterclasses on translating research to policy audiences, communicating research via the media, and on writing grant proposals. Participants expressed that they found this approach very effective when considering the nature of research-policy linkages in the implementation of the SDGs in East Africa. Participants were encouraged to prepare a policy briefing, media piece or grant application (including RDF) as outputs from the workshop.
The workshop report, presentations and background materials are available on the GAG website.
*WUN would like to express our sincere thanks to Prof Maano Ramutsindela and Dr David Mickler for their service as co-Chairs of the Global Africa Group as they complete their service, and extend a warm welcome the newly appointed co-Chairs A/Prof Floretta Boonzaier (UCT) and Prof Sue Parnell (Bristol).