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RT04 - Doing Research in Francophone Africa: Bridging the Research Gap and Improving Development Policies

Convened by Daniel Fussy, Francesco Obino, Kadijatou Marou Sama and Joao Costa (The Global Development Network (GDN))

In the context of social and economic disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, reliable knowledge and quality evidence have become an even more precious ally for governments across the planet than in the pre-pandemic period. Many, including the Global Development Network (GDN), have observed that efforts to strengthen research in the global South faces an evidence gap on national research systems and their performance, particularly when it comes to social science research capacity. This is also the case in Francophone Africa. This translates in limited efforts to integrate social sciences into national research development programs, and a perceived marginality of social sciences’ contribution to the national policy debate – even when such insights have shown elsewhere to be strategically important. GDN is implementing five Doing Research Assessments (DRAs) in Francophone Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, and Mali to understand the state of social science research in the region and their contributions to evidence-based policy advocacy and socio-economic development in general. DRA is a flagship methodology of the Doing Research program, which is a GDN initiative that aims to assess systematically how the features of national research system impact the capacity to produce, diffuse and use quality social science research to the benefit of social and economic development.

Preliminary findings and recommendations resulted from the implementation of five DRAs in the Francophone Africa will be presented in this round table at the EADI Centre for African and Development Studies (CEsA) General Conference 2023: Towards New Rhythms of Development, which is scheduled on 10-13 July 2023. A number of national institutions and researchers interested in conducting DRAs will be invited to participate and share their ideas, and so will a number of donors which have recently added an explicit focus on research systems in their strategies, and some are moving strategic thinking to the national level and would like to use the DR Assessment. The round table will also feature in a number of discussions, in which we will explore under-researched dimensions of the research system, the use of DR Assessment for evaluation, strategy and its use for evidence-based policy advocacy.