One of the fundamental misrepresentations of Africa is the persistent generalization of the continent. Nearly every aspect of social, political and economic life of the continent is generalized and carved as homogeneous without differences and differentiation. For instance, despite the Blair’s Commission for Africa, stressing the importance of looking at specific countries, it fell into the popular belief that Africa ‘suffered from governments that have looted’, ‘that cannot deliver services ... that are predatory states’; it also argued that there is much corruption and the theft of aid. It is believed that during the time of the Blair Commission Report there were good governance practices, effective usage of development aid, efficient service delivery standards but these were not given the highlights. Indeed, the area in which most commentaries about the continent have repeatedly acknowledged differences is a comparison of between Africa of the North and Africa Sub of the Sahara Desert or in relation to the world. It is indeed true that there are similarities but there are equally differences.
Building on the knowledge mobilization plank the strategic focus of AGS research is to highlight on diversity and differentiation of countries, sectors and governance approaches. The diversity and differentiation will serve as building blocks for facilitating accelerated continent-wide growth, development and transformation. Diversity and differentiation will allow research focus on the different, unique and peculiar parts of the continent and specific countries. The research findings will be sufficiently valuable for creating solidarity, building synergies, promoting replications. Research focusing on diversity and differentiation will allow countries and citizens to identify with specific lessons and inspire to take actions, which the generalizations has failed to do. The increasing homogeneity of Africa has the potential to dampen the spirit of doers and movers thereby reducing creativity and innovation. By lumping everyone as failures, even the pace setters on the continent may exhibit the natural tendency to react and defend rather than spending time to think, create and innovate.
The research objective is to generate, store and make accessible credible, quality and scientific timely data and information to support planning, policy formulation, implementation and utilization. The content of research will be drawn from client needs, advocacy and advisory services programmes, and emerging national and global trends and issues. Building on the knowledge mobilization plank the programme focus of research will also highlight on diversity and differentiation of countries, sectors, growth strategies and governance approaches pertaining on the continent of Africa and provide information, lessons and experiences as building blocks for facilitating accelerated continent-wide growth, development and transformation. In sum, the research programme will pay attention to:
• Issues of diversity and differentiations
• Stocktaking and evaluation of initiatives
• Surveys of doers and movers on specific areas,
• Functionality of mega projects in order to provide policy direction
• Lessons on approaches and processes
• Comparative analysis of what works and why
• Providing credible and scientific data in support of advocacy and advisory services.
• Knowledge production through reviews, primary studies, monitoring, etc.
• Publication and data packaging (hard copies, CD-Rooms, digital media etc.)
• Dissemination including digital, social media, print
• Building database including database of professionals, development corridors, finances, competencies and skills match