AERC Events Portal

AERC Senior Policy Seminar XIX –“Industrialization in Africa”

Venue: Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

Date:  13-14 March 2017 

The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) convenes an annual forum that provides high level African policy makers the opportunity to come together to learn about the results of AERC research, exchange policy experiences with each other and interact with AERC researchers in an atmosphere of peers. The themes of these seminars are selected on the basis of urgency and/or topicality, so as to equip African policy makers in decision making, using the latest research findings.

In order to address one current phenomenon that is already having an impact on many countries in sub-Saharan Africa and potentially to Africa’s economic growth, AERC in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) will hold a Senior Policy Seminar (SPS Xix) on Industrialization in Africa. This will be the nineteenth of such seminars, and it will be held Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on 13-14, March 2017.

AERC Senior Policy Seminars

Bridging the gap between economic research and economic policy is one of the major preoccupations of the AERC. The gap is not only in the implementation of policy – it frequently arises in policy makers’ overt hostility towards research and researchers. Policy makers may regard researchers as living in some ivory tower, with no awareness of the day-to-day tumble of real life. AERC addresses both of these concerns in a single framework – the Senior Policy Seminar. AERC Senior Policy Seminars are events intended to enhance the relationship between the economic policy researcher and the policy maker by bringing them together to meet and discuss key policy research issues in sub-Saharan Africa. A typical seminar features discussions by 90 or so policy makers and four to six researchers presenting papers, all representing as many as 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The seminars provide an opportunity to policy makers and researchers for uninterrupted deliberations on a set of important issues considered significant to policy. The seminar format insulates the policy makers from pressures related to their responsibilities, and therefore creates an environment for lively professional discourse on the selected issue. Exchange of country-specific experiences is particularly important.

Policy makers are normally identified for their interest in policy research issues, and come from countries that have been a focus of AERC research or have experience of substantial macroeconomic reform. The level of seniority of the policy makers is generally right, leading to detailed discussions. Researchers are generally evenly balanced between anglophone and francophone, and attendance by francophone policy makers is always encouraged.

Policy makers report that they have found their experiences in the seminars very useful. The information exchanged helps them update their knowledge on current research and sieve out those that are relevant for their duties. Seminars of this kind, while not intended or able to make the policy maker an economist, nevertheless afford the opportunity of considering the wider ramifications of their policy decisions.

In addition, the seminars are regarded as extremely useful for their potential to promote cooperation between the policy makers and the researchers, as they give a human face to the practitioners of the respective trades. Most participants, therefore, carry the message of success to policy research institutions in their respective countries. By sharing country experiences, interacting with researchers, and discussing problems and solutions in policy implementation, the participants discover a great deal that can be used in future planning.

The seminars also provide thoughts on how policy makers and researchers can interact more effectively at the national level. Among these ideas are: making policy makers more aware of research issues and the applicability of research techniques; involving researchers in analysing technical policy proposals; exchanging information on best practices in other countries; and improving researchers’ access to policy makers.

Besides the specific aims of bringing researchers and policy makers together and sharing the latest research findings in a particular area, the seminars are directly useful to AERC because they help to identify possible areas of policy-oriented research for AERC-funded researchers to consider. They also improve prospects for policy involvement by AERC-funded researchers and increase AERC’s visibility in the policy community. Thus, they serve to highlight the growing capacity in the region for policy research and help allay the fears of policy makers about the relevance of the research. The seminars on the whole provide important feedback to AERC on its research for future improvement. The key questions here relate to the utility of the research being pursued, and the identification of specific issues that need to be addressed and approaches to tackling them.

The Consortium is particularly concerned about the policy relevance of its research agenda, and supports research that responds to particular policy concerns of wide application to the region. Although AERC’s operations are region-wide, most of the research it supports is country-specific in nature. The Consortium draws broader lessons from the country-specific researches that are synthesized in products emphasizing comparative experiences from the region on specific issues. This approach lends itself easily to compilation of experiences on best practices and avoidable mishaps in the policy sphere.

AERC supports research that responds to particular policy concerns of wider application to the region. In this case, country case studies are commissioned in the context of the issues being studied. In all these instances care is taken to ensure that research being pursued has policy value and addresses issues that are pertinent to current and prospective policy concerns and these are then synthesized and shared in the senior policy seminars and other forums.

Teams of researchers working on particular issues made up of professionals from both academia and policy institutions are encouraged by the consortium. This teaming exposes researchers to the frontier of knowledge that academics are better informed about, while at the same time professionals from policy institutions apply such research to the realities of the policy world, and therefore enhancing the policy utility of it, such ideas are best shared in seminars.

AERC also supports policy workshops at the national level to prompt well-informed debate on important policy questions. Together with the Senior Policy Seminar, these events encourage interaction and links between researchers and the policy-interested community.

Policy making in Africa is a particularly difficult task, and AERC strives to provide policy makers with the information they need to do their jobs well. Research should not only concentrate on the identification of problems, rather it should provide concrete suggestions as to how one can overcome the problems. Africa has the human resources to be able to effect a change for the better. Thus, with the commitment and partnership between policy makers and researchers, Africa can overcome most of her problems.

The senior policy seminar format continues to be remarkably good at generating a consensus on future research among policy makers and researchers from many countries, regardless of different working methods and linguistic divides, and focusing on positive issues of the future and best practice lessons. The seminars remain ahead of many international and regional organizations in their ability to identify such issues, because they allow African researchers and policy makers to speak informally.

General Senior Policy Seminar Objectives and Outputs
The seminars have four aims:

  • To identify key priorities for future policy-oriented research in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • To provide an opportunity for policy makers and researchers to exchange experiences and views.
  • To highlight the growing capacity in the region for policy research on these issues.
  • To improve prospects for cooperative policy research between policy makers and researchers.

These are achieved in four ways:

  • By synthesizing and disseminating the results of the latest international (particularly AERC-funded) research in a format suitable for senior policy makers.
  • By generating interaction between policy makers and AERC funded researchers on results.
  • By encouraging sharing of experiences among policy makers on the lessons and details of macroeconomic policies oriented towards poverty reduction.
  • By receiving feedback from policy makers on key current research issues.

The concrete outputs of the seminars are expected to be:

  • Major input into AERC’s policy research agenda, through suggestions for key issues.
  • Ideas for structures and methods to promote collaboration among policy makers and researchers, both within individual countries and across the continent.
  • Wider dissemination of AERC materials to policy makers, and ideas for improving future dissemination to them.
  • Proposals for follow-up through similar, research projects or other activities.

AERC researchers present syntheses of research results on the seminar theme and nominated policy makers participating in the seminars act as discussants, one for each paper that is presented. The presentations are followed by a floor discussion in which the policy makers share experiences and express their views on key issues for future policy research. Each session is usually chaired by a senior policy maker usually with experience in the thematic area.

Themes for past Senior Policy Seminars

Theme Dates Venue Participants
Economic Research and Policy Making in Sub-Saharan Africa March, 1995 Nairobi, Kenya 40
Financial Sector Reforms, Domestic Resource Mobilization and Investment in Africa November, 1996 Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire 48
Fiscal Policy in Africa October, 1997 Accra, Ghana 52
Revenue Mobilization in Sub-Saharan Africa February, 2000 Gaborone, Botswana 56
Macroeconomic Policy and Poverty Reduction in Africa February, 2002 Dar es Salaam, Tanzania 60
Financing Pro-Poor Growth in Africa March, 2004 Kampala, Uganda 63
Poverty, Growth and Institutions March,  2005 Cape Town, South Africa 66
Governance and pro-poor growth in         sub-Saharan Africa March, 2006 Dakar, Senegal 72
Managing Commodity Booms in Sub-Saharan Africa February, 2007 Yaoundé, Cameroon 78
Climate Change and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa April, 2008 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 80
The Global Financial Crisis and Its Implications for the African Economies April, 2009 Lusaka, Zambia 92
Bank Regulatory Reforms in Africa: Enhancing Bank Competition and Intermediation Efficiency March, 2010 Mombasa, Kenya 72
Natural Resource Management in sub-Saharan Africa March, 2011 Maputo, Mozambique 103
(a) Challenges Associated with the   Development of Oil Sector in Uganda (Special Policy Seminar

(b) Health, Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction in sub-Saharan Africa

2012March, 2012
Kampala, Uganda
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Youth and Unemployment in Africa March, 2013 Kigali, Rwanda 113
Capital flights from Africa April, 2014 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 77
Agriculture in Africa’s Transformation: The Role of Smallholder Farmers March, 2015 Maputo, Mozambique 90
Financial Inclusion in Africa March, 2016 Nairobi, Kenya 93
Industrialization in Africa March, 2017 Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire —-

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For more information about this workshop or AERC, please contact:
The Executive Director
African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
Middle East Bank Towers, 3rd Floor, Milimani Road,
Tel: (254-20) 273-4150 / 273-4157
Fax: (254-20) 273-4173
Email: or