Global Development Institute Blog

Researchers from the Global Development Institute have been awarded a new research contract of £32 million to establish the African Cities Research Consortium (ACRC), funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as part of UK Aid. 

Led by Professor Diana Mitlin, ACRC and its international partners will tackle complex problems in some of Africa’s fastest growing urban areas. Over 6 years, research will generate new evidence to catalyse integrated, sustainable, inclusive approaches to urban development.

African Cities will approach urban areas as complex systems, undertaking engaged political analysis, in order to address large scale development challenges. A ‘city as a system’ approach aims to move beyond the sectoral silos of research and interventions by treating each city as a complex system. It builds upon the political settlements analysis establish by our Effective States and Inclusive Development research centre, and will integrate political and technical analysis undertaken alongside key players on the ground.

The African Cities Research Consortium brings together engaged partners including the UK-based IIED, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, and ODI, African-based groups such as ICLEI Africa, PASGR and SDI, as well as international organisations, such as the IRC and UNU-WIDER. Closer to home, it will utilise expertise from across The University of Manchester,  particularly within the Manchester Urban Institute and the Global Inequalities research beacon.

CEO Diana Mitlin said, “The long term prospects for much of Africa will hinge on creating more sustainable, equitable and inclusive cities. The African Cities Research Consortium will enable us to tease out the complexities and highlight potential solutions to improve urban centres across the continent.”

ACRC has the ambitious aim of generating new evidence to catalyse integrated, sustainable, inclusive approaches to urban development challenges. An initial focus on 13* African cities will allow us to undertake focused, inter-connected research that delivers real insights for local authorities, civil society and donors.

Tade Akin Aina, Executive director of the Partnership for African Social and Governance Research (PASGR), based in Kenya will be the Uptake Director for the Consortium. He said, “Covid-19 is highlighting structural inequalities within cities across Africa. By taking a holistic approach and bringing together communities with local authorities and donors, I’m confident the African Cities Research Consortium will play a vital role in improving urban areas.”

Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of The University of Manchester commented, “The University of Manchester is proud of its contribution towards tackling global challenges and the new African Cities Research Consortium epitomises this approach. With rigorous research, combined with the engaged networks and insights of partners from very different spheres, we’re confident that great progress will be made.”

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*  The initial 13 African cities are: Accra (Ghana), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Bukavu (DRC), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Freetown (Sierra Leone), Harare (Zimbabwe), Kampala (Uganda), Khartoum (Sudan), Lagos (Nigeria), Lilongwe (Malawi), Maiduguri (Nigeria), Mogadishu (Somalia), and Nairobi (Kenya).

Photo by Virgyl Sowah on Unsplash
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