Research agenda for Africa

13 June 2006

Prof Mike Morris.

Governance and legitimacy are the two cogs that will turn development in Africa in the next decade, says UCT's Professor Mike Morris, head of the Policy Research on International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM) project in SALDRU.

Morris was reflecting on the South Africa IDS40 Roundtable, convened jointly by PRISM and the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) at Sussex University, hosted at UCT recently. Convened by Morris, the roundtable was attended by IDS alumni, UCT academics, and delegates of African roundtables from Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, Tanzania and Nigeria. It was sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The IDS is the biggest development studies research and policy centre in the world, with 30 member countries. It sets the tone in research and policy work and plays a pivotal role in the global development world.

The South African roundtable is one of many leading up to the IDS' 40th Anniversary Conference in September, when the outcomes of the various roundtables will be pooled to provide a "grounded basis" for future research and development.

"The intention of the IDS Roundtables was not to look backwards, but forward to what the research agenda should be for the next 10 to 15 years and produce an agenda based on real ideas emanating from developing countries," Morris said. "Our postgraduate students will inherit this agenda."

Among the high-level delegates was UCT alumnus Professor Raphie Kaplinsky, senior researcher at the IDS as well as businesspeople, NGOs, academics and policymakers.

They debated how global issues like energy, climate change, environmental concerns, HIV/AIDS, poverty and urbanisation would affect the continent.

In particular, the rise of China and India elicited some debate, primarily the role of their economies and consequent implications for rapid global growth.

"Resource-based industrialisation has become an inherent potential for African growth with the increasing global shortage of raw materials and commodities spurred on by China and India's rapid economic growth," Morris said. "This raises a number of issues: the role of trade and the new terms of trade, rents that accrue from resource-based industrialisation and who benefits, the concentration of firms in resource extraction, China and India's globalisation drive in labour intensive exports hollowing out Africa's manufacturing industrial base, finally, the impact of the thirst for new supplies of raw materials and natural resources on the environment."

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