18 Jun

African countries and their use of data and evidence to inform policy

Rigorous, reliable evidence should be used when making decisions for any society. That’s because the use of evidence helps decision makers to maximise limited resources such as money and expertise.

It’s also a way to avoid harm and to select the courses of action that have been shown to be beneficial.

The importance of basing decisions on the best available evidence is even more important in settings like many African countries. The continent has enormous challenges to overcome. These include a lack of resources; poverty; and corruption.

Like many developing countries elsewhere, African states have a real challenge when it comes to using academic research and evidence to decide on and design policies.

The problem is twofold. Policymakers sometimes don’t call on available research, while for their part academics don’t know how to engage with policymakers.

But academics would be naive to believe that only research evidence is important, or that they’re the only ones working to tackle Africa’s massive challenges.

Rather, my colleagues and I should recognise our position within a wider community working towards real change. This community is made up of people, the organisations they work for and their wider networks.

The Africa Evidence Network is one of many on the continent working to break down the walls that stop decision makers and researchers from working closely together.

We set up the Africa Evidence Leadership Award as part of this effort. It is aimed at people from Africa who work to support evidence-informed decision making.

The way in which evidence-informed decision making has been defined has deliberately been left broad. This means that people from all sectors of the evidence ecosystem—not only academics—can apply.

It’s a chance to benchmark the highest standards of evidence-informed decision-making and to recognise people using evidence to make decisions and engaging with researchers to support evidence-informed decisions.

To read the full article, click here.

17 Jan

Africa: Data On Canadian Immigrants From ‘Shithole’ Countries Might Surprise Trump

Defenders of Donald Trump say his “shithole countries” remark regarding people from Africa, Haiti and other nations was just Trump being Trump – the president may have used salty language, but it’s really just his way of saying the United States should have a merit-based immigration system like Canada’s.

A generous interpretation of Trump’s comments are that immigrants from certain so-called “shithole” countries — African nations, Haiti and El Salvador — are not typically highly skilled or economically self-reliant, and if admitted would need to depend on the state.

In fact, Trump apologists — and the president himself — might be surprised by what the economic data says about immigrants who come to Canada from the “shithole” countries.

John Fredericks, who was Trump’s campaign chair in Virginia, told CNN that immigrants from those countries “come into the United States and they do nothing to increase the prosperity of the American worker.

They lower wages or go on welfare and extend our entitlement system … . Australia and Canada have a merit-based system. You know why they do that? Because they want to bring people into their country who are going to enhance the prosperity of their citizens.

Trump himself tweeted a similar sentiment.

The conclusion we are expected to make, it seems, is that if the United States was to adopt a purely merit-based system, immigrants would not come from these countries — they would come from countries like Norway, and immigrants from these Norway-like countries would not put pressure on blue-collar U.S. workers because they would be highly skilled and, more importantly, they wouldn’t be a drain on the system because they would be economically self-reliant.

A merit-based system

Canada offers an opportunity to take a look at this hypothesis because our points-based immigration system screens immigrants on merit to a large degree. So when we screen immigrants on merit, who do we let in and how do they do?

To read the full article, click here.