Pan-African commodities venture launched

04 March 2009 | Story by Chris McEvoy

workshop participatns
Long road: The first MMCP workshop on 2 March was run by project leaders (from left) Profs David Kaplan and Mike Morris of UCT and Prof Raphael Kaplinsky of the Open University.

The Making the Most from Commodities Programme (MMCP) in Africa kicked off with its first workshop at the Centre for African Studies on 2 March.

The multi-donor, extensive collaborative research venture is run by the Policy Research in International Services and Manufacturing (PRISM) research unit in UCT's School of Economics, and managed through the Centre for Social Science Research (CSSR).

Led by Professors Mike Morris and David Kaplan (PRISM), in collaboration with Professor Raphael Kaplinsky of the Open University in the UK, the MMCP will examine a selection of countries that are dependent on commodities, especially minerals, and investigate ways this could be used as a springboard for an industrialisation path for Africa.

"During the course of the project, we'll be exploring various policy options that will allow for further development," says Kaplan. He explains that the first workshop is a training session, in which researchers set out their agendas for future research. At the follow-up meeting in July, they will present feedback on their research and field work.

Although primarily a research programme, the MMCP lays a strong emphasis on capacity building, linkages, and engagement with policymakers. As well as producing academic output, the MMCP will also engage with policymakers across the continent. Workshops will be held for researchers and policymakers to come together.

The MMCP's activities will include book contributions, journal articles, working papers, public seminars, methodology and policy dialogue workshops.

Phase I is a two-year venture with some 16 researchers from Africa and beyond. The programme is largely funded by the International Development and Research Centre in Canada, as well as the Hewlett Foundation and the Centre for African Studies Oppenheimer Award.

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