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Building research capacity to inform practical policymaking

Three members from AERC

IDRC is committed to supporting cutting-edge research led by developing country experts to create lasting change. Building strong partnerships with regional researchers and organizations through research support and capacity building is integral to the success of this approach.

The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) was established by IDRC in 1988 to address the severe shortage of locally based economists to carry out policy-oriented research to inform policymaking in the continent. The Consortium’s sister program, Programme de Troisième Cycle Interuniversitaire en Economie (PTCI) was founded by IDRC in 1994 to address the same issue in Francophone Africa.

Together, AERC and PTCI have mentored more than 5,500 African researchers from 43 countries across the continent. The graduates of these programs hold high-level bureaucratic, academic, and institutional roles in virtually every one of these countries, occupying roles such as national advisor, secretary general, and university dean. Together they are creating a skilled network of more than 1,000 economists who are informing sound evidence-based policy and decision-making in Africa — without relying on foreign experts. The programs have since become widely recognized as regional centres of excellence that are known for training the brightest economic minds in Africa.

The Partnership for Economic Policy (PEP) is another successful IDRC-supported program that strives to enhance the capacity of local experts in conducting high-quality and policy-engaged research. PEP was initially created with the support of IDRC in 2002 as an international but informal network of researchers and institutions that paired promising developing country analysts with specialized experts to provide the best possible training and mentorship. Fifteen years later, the network has become a legally incorporated global organization based in Nairobi, Kenya, and has trained more than 800 researchers from 58 countries worldwide.

These projects-turned-programs have made a lasting impact on the capacity of Southern researchers to conduct their own studies in line with international standards and to use their findings to inform policies for more inclusive and equitable development. They decrease reliance on foreign aid and foster South-South as well as more balanced South-North partnerships, enabling Southern experts to achieve their own development innovations.

Learn more about some of the leaders trained at AERC, PTCI, and PEP