Forum calls for linking research to policy and SDGs

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Copyright: Caroline Penn / Panos

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  • R&D in higher education training could boost policymaking in Africa
  • Evidence-based policy could help drive Africa’s development agenda
  • An expert calls for capacity building to aid research generation and uptake

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[NAIROBI] Linking research to specialised training in higher education is crucial in generating evidence-based policies to advance regional development agenda in Africa, a forum has heard.
Academic institutions, policymakers and the private sector should work together to set the research agenda, implement research recommendations and monitor policy actions, according to the 2nd Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)–African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) annual research forum that was held in Kenya on 27 June-1 July.

“Looking at Agenda 2063, Africa’s development blueprint, it is clear that research remains important in deciding on the priority areas.”

Folasade Ayonrinde, African Capacity Building Foundation


Benedict Musengele, project coordinator of COMESA-ACBF, tells SciDev.Net that evidence-based policy is useful in realising and monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He notes that policy plays a critical role in easing the political buy-in by the various African governments through establishing the various modalities of ensuring that the SDGs are realised within the set timelines, the financial implications of realising the SDGs as well as their developmental impacts.
Environmental, social and economic dimensions [of the SDGs] are no longer separate pillars but intertwined to form an indivisible whole,” Musengele says.
Folasade Ayonrinde, senior program officer at the Zimbabwe-headquartered ACBF, says the role of research in Africa’s development cannot be overemphasised.
“Looking at Agenda 2063, Africa’s development blueprint, it is clear that research remains important in deciding on the priority areas, the challenges, timelines, solutions and resources required to successfully implement the flagship programmes and projects,” she explains.
But Ayonrinde notes that capacity building is required to provide individuals, organisations and societies with the required skills and knowledge on how to set research agenda, conduct research, promote research uptake and how to successfully implement research recommendations.
According to Ayonrinde, capacity building is therefore central to the research process and agenda and is the missing link between evidence-based research and policy making in Africa, which should be tackled.
Manaseh Otieno, policy analyst at Kenya Institute of Policy Research and Analysis, concurs with Ayonrinde, saying that SDGs mark a shift in the economic and political relationships between developing, emerging and developed countries.
Otieno calls on African countries to focus on both development cooperation within and outside of the continent to help achieve the SDGs.

Science, technology and innovation research is a fundamental tool to implement the SDGs agenda because it aids efficiency in economic and development, and spurs the creation of new and more sustainable ways to satisfy human needs, he explains.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.