Summer school on African inequalities starts an ambitious Africa-Europe research collaboration

24 Jun 2024 | By Charmaine Smith
Africa map in Ottoman Turkish

Scanned map, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

24 Jun 2024 | By Charmaine Smith

Close to 40 early career researchers are in for a treat in the second week of July when they attend the inaugural summer school of the Cluster of Research Excellence in Inequalities, Poverty, and Deprivation (CoRE-IPD).

The five-day gathering offers participants a multidisciplinary grounding in the roots of inequality, poverty, and deprivation in Africa. It will help them hone skills in data and multinational poverty measurement and analysis and includes practical sessions on the use of survey data from selected sub-Saharan African countries.

The team of lecturers – all from the CoRE-IPD partner universities – comprises esteemed scholars from Ghana, Kenya, the Netherlands, and South Africa.

The school takes place at the University of Nairobi where the Kenya node of the African Centre of Excellence in Inequality Research (ACEIR) is based at the Department of Economics and Development Studies. The academic coordinators are Prof. Damiano K. Manda (University of Nairobi), Prof. Robert Lensink (University of Groningen), Prof. Robert D. Osei (University of Ghana), and Prof. Murray Leibbrandt (University of Cape Town).

A new way to carry out global collaboration in an unequal world

Included on the school’s programme is the official launch of the Cluster of Research Excellence in Inequalities, Poverty, and Deprivation. The CoRE-IPD is one of 20 research clusters that bring together top researchers from African and European universities to work together on societal and scientific challenges. This global collaboration was initiated a year ago by the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) and The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities (The Guild). 

Prof. Lensink is the co-leader of The Guild partners in the CoRE-IPD. He says the Cluster aims to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development in Africa by boosting indigenous research capacity, enhance interdisciplinary knowledge, and undertake comprehensive analyses of multidimensional inequalities, deprivation and poverty.

The Cluster’s 10-year plan includes joint summer schools; master and PhD projects; a doctoral programme; and training for policymakers, civil society, and businesses. 

A focus on the factors behind inequality, poverty, and deprivation in Africa

“The key scientific challenge that this Cluster will address is how to reduce inequality so that it reduces poverty and deprivation in Africa”, according to Prof. Leibbrandt, who is the CoRE-IPD co-leader for the ARUA partner universities. 

“The continent has the largest interregional differences in inequality in the world, with southern African countries amongst the most unequal globally. This challenge is a common thread running through almost all the SDGs.”

While the underlying causes of inequality, poverty, and deprivation in Africa are intricate, multifaceted, and often vary across different contexts, certain common factors persist. The summer school will delve into some of these with lectures on the sources of inequality and the social groups that benefit from it in different historical periods. 

The week kicks off with lectures on pre-colonial as well as colonial inequality in sub-Saharan Africa, and sub-Saharan Africa’s place in the broader global inequality picture. These sessions are led by Prof. Jutta Bolt (from both the University of Groningen and Lund University), followed by a lecture on financial inclusion, financial development and inequality by Prof. Lensink.

Participants thereafter are taken through deeper insights on poverty measurement and determinants; international poverty measurements; growth, poverty, social mobility, and inequality in Africa. These are followed by introductions to the basics of poverty analysis; the dimensions and structure of Ghana’s Panel Data; the application of this panel data for research on structural change and poverty reduction in Ghana; and data and poverty measurement in Africa.

These components of the school are lectured, respectively, by Prof. Germano Mwabu, Dr Martine Oleche, Prof. Damiano Manda, and Prof. Anthony Wambugu (all from the University of Nairobi Department of Economics and Development Studies); Nduati Kariuki (World Bank); Prof. Leibbrandt and Dr Muna Shifa (both from the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town); and Prof. Robert D. Osei and Dr Francis Dompae (both from the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana).

A deeper dive into understanding inequalities, poverty and deprivation

The last two days of the school continue the deep dive into inequalities, poverty and deprivation in Africa with lectures from different disciplines. These deal with how social institutions create inequality and injustices; the function of these institutions – such as social norms around gender – and what it takes to change them; and notions of democracy in pluralistic societies in different parts of the world. Building on these sessions are an overview of what the literature on financial inclusion and financial development says about the impact of inequality on sustainable development, and the gender effects of financial inclusion. 

The instructors of these components of the school are Prof. Frank Hindriks and Prof. Robert Lensink, respectively, both from the University of Groningen. 

Prof. Lensink concludes the school with a lecture on experimental evaluation methods to assess the impact of various interventions on inclusive growth, followed by presentations of coursework by the school’s participants.

The other core partners in CoRE-IPD are Aarhus University in Denmark and the University of Gottingen, Germany.

Save the date for the launch of the CoRE-IPD

The launch of the CoRE-IPD will take place on Thursday, 18 July 2024, from 16h00 – 17h30 EAT (15h00 – 16h30 CAT/CEST).

It will be a hybrid event open to the public to attend online.

Registration details will be announced on the ACEIR homepage, X, LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and communicated via the ACEIR newsletter (sign up).