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.

21 Dec

South Africa’s ANC Agrees to Push Constitutional Change on Land

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress agreed to seek a change in the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation, provided it doesn’t affect the economy and food production.

The party agreed to the proposal in a debate that “nearly collapsed” its five yearly conference, Enoch Godongwana, the head of the ANC’s economic transformation committee, told reporters in Johannesburg on Wednesday. Delegates didn’t agree on a deadline for the change and the policy must not affect other sectors of the economy, he said.

“There should be no illegal occupation of land,” Godongwana said. “That is part of the resolution we have taken.”

South Africa ruling party has sought to accelerate redistributing land to the country’s black majority from the more affluent white minority but is deeply divided on how to achieve that, with President Jacob Zuma seeking radical policies as his term as national leader comes to an end. Cyril Ramaphosa beat Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Zuma’s preferred candidate and ex-wife, to become ANC president this week.

The rand reversed gains of as much as 1.1 percent against the dollar and was 0.3 percent weaker at 12.7435 by 10:15 p.m. in Johannesburg.

Farm Debt

Two-thirds of lawmakers need to approve a change in the constitution. The ANC holds 62 percent of the seats in parliament and the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters, which backs the proposal, has 6 percent.

Read more about land policy in South Africa

White farmers own almost three-quarters of South Africa’s agricultural land, according to a land audit by farm lobbying group Agri SA published last month. The amount of land owned by the government and racial groups who were disadvantaged under white-minority rule rose to 26.7 percent of South Africa’s agricultural land in 2016, from 14.9 percent in 1994, according to the audit.

Farm debt to South Africa’s commercial banks was about 89 billion rand ($7 billion) in December 2016, according to data from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Source: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-20/south-africa-s-anc-agrees-to-push-constitutional-change-on-land