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Strengthening the capacity of the African policy community to meet the millennium development goals through knowledge-sharing in the framework of South-South partnership

Background:

New knowledge generation in Africa, as well as access to, and adaptation of knowledge generated elsewhere for application in the continent, are critical to meeting the MDGs, particularly with respect to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education and attaining mortality and maternal health targets in African countries. The economic processes that can bring this about are contingent on good analytical skills, access to information globally and good policy targeting by African policy-makers as well as the broadening of economic spaces of African economies.

More successful economic, social and political regional integration than has hitherto been possible is considered pivotal in the process of attaining the MDGs in Africa. Associated with ECA’s African Development Forum process, is its technical committee, the Africa Knowledge Networks Forum (AKNF), established under the first tranche of the Development Account. It has as its core objective the continuous networking, using various instruments, including the use of ICTs, of African knowledge hubs (research and other centers of excellence) and conveying research results to African policy-makers and development managers at country, sub-regional and Africa Union levels. The AKNF met in October 2001 to focus on regional integration.

While some progress has been made in supporting analytical needs of policy- makers using African think-tanks, accessing information, improving policy targeting and in broadening economic spaces of African economies, much more needs to be done. This project would address this need through learning from the LAC experience in open regionalism concepts and practice; in promoting private or public/private sector partnerships in the provision of social and infrastructure services; in engaging the vast pool of highly skilled LAC manpower in the diaspora in the process of rendering technical and advisory services and participating in private sector investment in their countries of origin; and design prototype networks of centers of excellence.

Objective:

Engage leading research and policy analysis organizations and institutions in Africa and Latin America in information and knowledge-sharing and exchange arrangements with a view to strengthening the capacity of the African policy community to render more informed policy advice at the country and regional levels in thematic areas relevant to meeting key millennium development goals. The project will focus on the areas of the open regionalism concept in the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules: private or public/private sector partnerships in the provision of social and infrastructure services; and engaging the vast pool of highly skilled human resources in the diaspora in the provision of technical and advisory services and in the private sector investment in their countries of origin.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Enhanced capacity of leading research and policy analysis organizations and institutions in Africa to provide policy advice to national, subregional and regional economic communities as well as continental intergovernmental policy organs
  • Enhanced capacity of national, regional and continental intergovernmental organs to work towards realization of millennium development goals through better policy targeting and execution, better alignment of regional, subregional and national policy and programme priorities and supporting institutions understanding and implementation of an open regionalism approach
  • Better understanding of the modalities, including institutional support arrangements and operational templates, for engaging the technical and advisory services of the vast pool of highly skilled Africans in the diaspora for private provision of social services and public/private sector partnerships in the provision of infrastructure services
  • An operational, prototype network of selected centres of excellence in Africa and Latin America whose information and knowledge exchange will focus on the objectives of the project

Implementation status:

The overall goal of the project is to contribute to the improvement of policy making to reach the MDGs in Africa. This shall be done in a south-south partnership with Latin America, which can make valuable experiences of Latin American researchers and policy makers available to their African counterparts. A central aspect of the project, which is very much in line with ECA’s repositioning exercise, is building a knowledge network with ECA playing a central role as facilitator and knowledge hub. Thematically the project will focus on macroeconomic policies that are employment- and MDG-sensitive. In 2006 a policy study on "Enhanced private sector provision of infrastructure services" has been drafted in consultation with ECA staff members. An ad-hoc expert group meeting on this issue was held in Lusaka, Zambia on 11 October 2006. It was attended by 57 participants, including nine ECA staff members from SRO-SA and Headquarters. The recruitment process for Young African Professionals Developmental Programme is in progress.