UNU-WIDER Joins New Research Consortium Analysing African Cities


  • 2020•10•13

    A partnership of urban development experts has received a £32 million contract to establish the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC).

    The consortium will tackle complex problems in some of Africa’s fastest growing urban areas. Over six years, research will generate new evidence to catalyse integrated, sustainable, inclusive approaches to urban development.

    In addition to UNU-WIDER, the consortium includes ICLEI-Africa, IIED, IRC, LSTM, PASGR, ODI, and SDI as well as the University of Manchester. ACRC, funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as part of UK Aid, is led by Prof. Diana Mitlin of the University of Manchester.

    The consortium will approach urban areas as complex systems, and undertake engaged political analysis in order to address large-scale development challenges. This “city as a system” approach aims to move beyond the sectoral silos of research and interventions by treating each city as a complex system, while integrating political and technical analysis undertaken alongside key players on the ground.

    “I am delighted that UNU-WIDER will be a partner in the research consortium on African cities. The research is at the interface of two of the core Sustainable Development Goals we work on: SDG 8 on decent work and SDG 16 on capable states and just institutions”, said UNU-WIDER Director Kunal Sen. “By combining different disciplinary perspectives to look at the problem of urban development in Africa in a holistic way, the research consortium will produce new knowledge and evidence that will contribute to more effective economic development policies in African cities.”

    Many problems constraining urban growth and development are interlinked, with common political economy factors that undermine reform efforts. An initial focus of the consortium will therefore be on 13 selected African cities, with the aim of undertaking focused, interconnected research that can deliver real insights for local authorities, civil society, and donors.

    Tade Akin Aina, PASGR Executive Director and Uptake Director for the consortium, said: “COVID-19 is highlighting structural inequalities within cities across Africa. By taking a holistic approach and bringing together communities with local authorities and donors, I’m confident the African Cities Research Consortium will play a vital role in improving urban areas”.

    For more, see the news announcement on the UNU-WIDER website.