On 4 March 2014, United Nations University Rector David M. Malone and Senegalese Foreign Minister Mankeur Ndiaye signed the Host Country Agreement for a new UNU institute to be based in Senegal.
The signing ceremony — a further step in a long-term process between UNU-MERIT (Maastricht) and the Consortium pour la Recherche Économique et Sociale (CRES) in Dakar — was also attended by CRES Executive Director Prof. Abdoulaye Diagne, UNU-MERIT Director Prof. Bart Verspagen and UNU-MERIT Research Theme Leader Prof. Théophile T. Azomahou.
This process was launched by former UNU-MERIT Director Prof. Luc Soete and more recently spearheaded by Prof. Azomahou, who organized a dedicated conference in November 2013. The agreement is expected to be finalized in summer of 2014, after approval by the UNU Council at its 61st session in May.
Set to become a key UNU hub in Francophone Africa, the institute will work on sustainable growth and development, with a particular focus on innovation and structural transformation. It will serve as a training centre both at the academic level (with an international doctoral programme) and at the practical level (through training designed for policymakers and other development actors in Africa). The Institute also will be active in advising and informing African governments, regional and international organizations, and private actors to promote informed policymaking as a part of the UNU’s mandate as a think tank.
“We are establishing this new institute in Dakar, Senegal, to strengthen the scientific research of the United Nations University in Africa, ” said Prof. Azomahou. “This is a unique initiative, designed to meet the challenges of top-quality research and capacity building. It will train economists to the highest of levels, to effect a step change in social and economic development for the African continent.”