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An international study involving researchers from ACEIR has revealed that hundreds of millions of Africans do not have access to the most basic facilities to prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. ACEIR’s director, Prof Murray Leibbrandt, and postgraduate researcher, Bongai Munguni, were co-authors on the study. Murray is the director of UCT's Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, and Bongai is part of the inaugural UCT–Bristol Researchers without Borders programme. They collaborated on this study with researchers from the University of Bristol’s Poverty Institute, the University of California, Los Angeles’ Fielding School of Public Health and other international research groups to investigate the feasibility of non-pharmacological public health interventions in low-resource settings in Africa.
Following the publication of the South African and Ghanaian inequality diagnostics reports, the next report in this series - for Kenya - was launched on 12 July. The reports serve as a baseline on inequality trends in each country and are used to explore the implications of the data analyses with different sectoral stakeholders. The launch was hosted online and in partnership with the Kenyan National Bureau for Statistics; the School of Economics at the University of Nairobi; and the Agence Française de Développement as part of the Research Facility on Inequality funded by the European Union.
ACEIR was honoured to co-host, with the French embassy in South Africa, this debate as part of a series across Africa at the request of the President of France. The purpose of the dialogue was to create a platform for exchanging perspectives on South Africa’s inequalities and to motivate for priority actions and policies in overcoming these inequalities, and with a special focus on the country's youth. Speakers included high-profile business leaders, a prominent student activist, academics and the head of South Africa’s Youth Employment Service. Proposals that emerge out of the debates will feed into the Africa–France Summit in October 2021, where Pres. Emmanuel Macron will host a discussion with youth representatives from Africa, France and the diaspora.
ACEIR’s inequality trends reports, for Ghana, Kenya and South Africa to date, have featured prominently at a high-level conference hosted recently by the European Union and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD). The final conference of the Research Facility on Inequalities provided the opportunity to share results of the Facility’s studies since 2018 and draw conclusions and make recommendations for public policy. ACEIR’s work has been one of the 23 research projects funded via AFD as part of the Research Facility on Inequality.
"Piketty comes to South Africa" is the title of an article recently published, in the British Journal of Sociology, by members of ACEIR's South Africa node. The scholars, based at the Southern African Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU) at the University of Cape Town, include Fabio Diaz as the lead author; they co-authored the piece with Mike Savage from the London School of Economics and Political Science. This special issue of the BJS was inspired by Thomas Piketty’s new book, Capital and Ideology and the article reflects on inequality in the South African context in relation to the Piketty book.
The findings of ACEIR’s inequality trends reports for Ghana, Kenya and South Africa will be framing a session on African inequalities at this high-level conference of the Research Facility on Inequalities. In another session, these inequality diagnostics will be presented as one of the tools to measure and describe inequality that were developed or expanded through the Facility. This research programme, which was financed by the European Union and managed by the Agence Française de Développement, aimed to deepen the understanding of socio-economic inequalities in low- and middle-income countries and analyse the public policy and development policy levers for reducing them.
The Ghanaian node of ACEIR has recently released this landmark report of policy-relevant data on inequalities in that country. Produced by researchers based at the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, it is the second in ACEIR’s series of baseline reports on inequality trends in different African countries.
An exciting new ACEIR project has commenced in July through the support of the African Research Universities Association (ARUA) partnership with the Global Challenges Research Fund of UK Research and Innovation. It is a joint project with the ARUA Centre of Excellence in Climate Development, also based at the University of Cape Town, to research the interactions between climate change, poverty and inequality in Africa.
The ARUA Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research is configured as a hub-and-spoke model. The University of Cape Town hosts the hub, as well as the South African node, with two strong research centres based at the nodes at the University of Ghana, Legon and the University of Nairobi. The research groups and members of the three research nodes bring together internationally eminent African scholars who are influential researchers in their country contexts and have excellent research connections to their respective national statistical offices.
The potential contribution of the African Centre of Excellence for Inequality Research to evidence that will inform Africa’s progress towards achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals has received a substantial boost. This comes as each of the 13 African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) centres were invited to submit multi-million pound funding proposals to support capacity building and partnerships. The funding is made available through ARUA’s partnership with the Global Challenges Research Fund, funded by UK Research and Innovation, which will channel a total of £22.8 million to the ARUA centres.
Given the current frailties of African data, a foundation of ACEIR’s work in each node is getting the data right. This will require frontier data scholarship and holds great possibilities for capacity development across the continent. Plans are underway to support ACEIR partners and its network to create their own data hubs. Leading this work is Prof. Martin Wittenberg and colleagues at DataFirst, based at the University of Cape Town. DataFirst has over 20 years’ experience in the curation and dissemination of data and is the only data service on the continent to have achieved the CoreTrustSeal certification as a trusted repository. Over the last decade DataFirst has also developed a specific competence in the assessment of data quality issues and in the harmonisation of data.
Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit,
School of Economics,
Middle Campus, Stanley Road, University of Cape Town, Rondebosch, 7701