Partners against poverty: (From left) Executive director of J-PAL Africa Kamilla Gumede, Minister Trevor Manuel and vice-chancellor Dr Max Price.
The close interface between economists at UCT and policymakers in South Africa refutes accusations that universities are ivory towers, said vice-chancellor Dr Max Price at the launch of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab for Africa (J-PAL Africa) in January.
J-PAL Africa is the fourth regional office of the international J-PAL research network, based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The project aims to reduce global poverty by ensuring that government policy and programmes are based on scientific evidence.
The project's other key partners are in Chile, France and India, each of which serves as a node for its home continent while also conducting comparative work globally. J-PAL Africa will be led by executive director Kamilla Gumede and hosted by Professor Murray Leibbrandt, director of the Southern African Labour and Development Research Unit in the Faculty of Commerce.
Welcoming delegates to the launch from 23 countries, Price said UCT has deep roots in the fight against poverty, and that SALDRU had implemented a range of innovative surveys in this regard over the past 30 years.
"We are privileged to have been given the opportunity to host the African node of J-PAL because it speaks directly to two of our strategic goals: to increase the impact of research, as well as to establish UCT as a hub of academic connectivity between Africa and the rest of the world."
Trevor Manuel, Minister in the Presidency: National Planning Commission, spoke at a private dinner on the eve of the launch. (His speech may be read here.)
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