The African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) is a not-for-profit corporation established in 1988. It is based in Nairobi, Kenya, where it is recognized as an international organization through a Host Country Agreement concluded with the Government of Kenya. Its principal objective is to strengthen local capacity for conducting independent, rigorous inquiry into problems pertinent to the management of economies in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Its work is based on two premises: first, that development is more likely to occur where there is sustained sound management of the economy and, second, that such management is more likely where there is an active, well-informed group of locally based professional economists to conduct policy-relevant research. Hence, the mandate of AERC is threefold: enhancing the capacity of locally based researchers to conduct policy-relevant economic inquiry; promoting retention of such capacity; and encouraging its application in the policy context. AERC has three principal organs: the Board of Directors, the Programme Committee and the Secretariat. It manages its training programmes through academic boards.
AERC supports a research programme and a postgraduate training programme.
The Research Programme offers small grants to groups of individuals from both academia and policy institutions to conduct research on a set of pertinent themes. The current thematic areas are Poverty, Income Distribution and Labour Market Issues; Trade, Regional Integration and Sectoral Policies; Macroeconomic Policies, Stabilization and Growth; and Finance, Resource Mobilization and Investment. The Consortium supports researchers through peer review, methodology workshops and literature. The researchers present their proposals, draft reports and final papers to resource persons and to their peers at biannual thematic research workshops that provide the opportunity for ongoing monitoring of the quality of research. The resource persons, both African and international, assist the researchers in drawing out the policy relevance of their work. The workshops also offer opportunities for participants to provide input into the design and implementation of AERC programmes. The workshop process has been central in developing a sense of ownership of AERC activities on the part of researchers and institutions.
AERC also supports Collaborative Research Projects carried out by teams of African researchers and their counterparts elsewhere on mutually agreed themes. Such research gives rise to new, high quality research output and literature of interest to the African academic and policy communities.
The Training Programme manages a Collaborative Master''s Programme (CMAP) (for anglophone Africa except Nigeria and South Africa) in Economics in partnership with 21 universities in 17 SSA countries. The universities that offer CMAP jointly enforce standards through annual evaluations and assessments by external examiners. They develop a common curriculum and teaching materials, and share a joint facility for teaching elective courses. An Academic Board, whose members are drawn from the participating universities, is responsible for the substance of the programme. As of 2004, seven of the universities are able to offer core courses that meet the jointly determined standards. They host students from the other participating universities. AERC facilitates curriculum development, joint enforcement of standards, and student and teacher travel. It provides support for improved teaching facilities and library services in the individual universities'' Economics Departments and manages the operation of the Joint Facility for Electives in Nairobi. Similar initiatives for francophone Africa and Nigeria originated from the AERC model. In 2002, AERC launched a Collaborative PhD Programme (CPP) in Economics with eight SSA universities. This programme operates on the same principles as the Collaborative Master''s Programme.
The AERC Network consists of current and former AERC researchers as well as resource persons supporting the Research Programme; instructors for the CMAP and CPP elective courses; members of the Academic Boards; and students and institutions supported by AERC. The Consortium provides members of the Network with professional information and opportunities to exchange experiences and share research ideas. Network members influence AERC''s decisions through membership on the Programme Committee and through various consultation channels.