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Session Overview
2-HP075 - 1/2: Production and Use of Knowledge on Governance and Development: Its Role and Contribution to Struggles for Peace, Equality and Social Justice - 1/2
Tuesday, 06/July/2021:
11:00am - 12:15pm

Session Chair: Prof. Liisa Laakso, Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden
Session Chair: Prof. Gordon Crawford, Coventry University, United Kingdom

Session Abstract

The panel focuses on the state of research on governance, political transitions and democratic development in the face of autocracy and populism, and how a research agenda can be made more relevant to struggles for peace, equality and social justice. What are the key research issues in contexts of rising authoritarianism? Further concerns include: the independence of scientific thought and its protection by university autonomy; and countering asymmetries in knowledge production between scholars and institutions in the Global South and North. Relevant issues include elections, democratic participation, resistance to authoritarianism, conflict transformation, struggles for human rights, anti-corruption programmes, and more.

EADI Working Group: Governance

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On Knowledge Production in the Global South: Opportunities for sustainable development data in the digital era

Franklyn Lisk2, Love Odion Idahosa1

1University of Johannesburg, South Africa; 2University of Warwick, UK

Central to fostering development is the ability to account for every one of the citizenries to, not only, ensure quality of life, access to services, and effectiveness of interventions, but also monitor the development trajectory of the country. Citizen identification data is, however, very poor in African countries due to lack of capacity and insufficient funding resources. The limited availability of citizen data is typical of the entire data landscape in these countries where capacity and funding constraints have made it such that development data for these countries are typically generated and made available by third parties like the World Bank. This means that only data relevant to these third-party objectives, and justifiable in their budgets, are generated and made available. Consequently, the immediate needs of those on the fringes of society, especially in poor and rural areas are sparingly factored into the data collection and availability framework – making them invisible and exclude from welfare enhancing opportunities.

The digital revolution has been positioned as offering a unique opportunity to expediating the development process. This is particularly true for easier and quicker data generation, access, analysis, and dissemination made possible by big data, artificial intelligence and innovative technology like biometrics, where in the past, manual methods ensured difficulty in the generation of civil-society data. This is particularly so in Africa where the rapid penetration of mobile telecommunication services and social media to the remote and rural areas, already provide traceability and visibility for the previously excluded, with significant potential to cut down the cost of creating and collecting data.

This paper explores the opportunities created by technological advances like telecoms penetration, e-money, algorithmic identification, trust-less systems, and distributed ledger technology to fast-track and facilitate the development of accurate and representative identification for the previously invisible and excluded in Africa. It discusses the new dispensation of data generation which will require more structured and involved collaboration between the public and private sector for the benefit of the civil society and attainment of the SDGs; the regulatory requirements of such a dispensation to ensure accountability, data security, and individual privacy; as well as potential spill-over effects to governance, policy making, knowledge production, and macroeconomic and sectoral monitoring, planning, and evaluation.

Faculty Experiences of Curricula Reform in Africa

Kajsa Hallberg Adu, Liisa Laakso

The Nordic Africa Institute, Sweden

This paper is analysing the attempts to tackle global knowledge production asymmetries by looking at political science curricula reforms in Africa. It will overview literature on curricula reform and decolonization in the aftermath of ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ student uprising, reflecting the expansion of higher education, pressures against autonomy of universities, the role of national level quality assurance, as well as the rise of marketization. Incentives and challenges to reform the form and content of political science education are analysed through the experiences of faculty in four Anglophone African countries, Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, sharing the same political science traditions but representing different political trajectories. Our main finding is that constraints to address knowledge production asymmetries and increase locally produced and relevant knowledge are complex starting from the ability of the faculty to concentrate on research and publications to hierarchical university bureaucracy and demand-based marketization of the university education.

Poverty, Inequality And Social Exclusion: Is There Policy Complementarity Between South African Public Policy Documents Across Sectors?

Sophie Plagerson

University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Poverty, inequality and social exclusion have received global attention in the post-2015 development agenda. Despite significant progress in poverty reduction in many parts of the world, social and economic inequalities persist and vulnerable groups continue to confront barriers that prevent them from fully participating in economic, social and political life. In line with global development agendas, for more than two decades, South Africa has sought to address poverty and inequality with a wide range of initiatives. More recently, concerted efforts to increase social cohesion have been established. Although these policy frameworks have resulted in notable gains since 1994, the country continues to face the challenge of high poverty and acute vertical, horizontal and spatial inequalities. On one hand, South Africa has a rich and celebrated diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and language. However, these markers also highlight deep inequalities that characterise relations across groups, despite constitutional protections and guarantees.

This study, commissioned by the South African National Development Agency, assessed whether key social, economic, environmental and administrative laws, policies, strategies and flagship programmes adequately address and prioritise the reduction of poverty, inequality and social exclusion (with particular attention to gender, race, disability status, and spatial dimensions). The study compares policy documents published before and after 2011, the year in which the National Development Plan was promulgated, which established poverty reduction and inequality as national development goals. The project is premised on the understanding that policies matter and can make a real difference, and are a significant (though not sufficient) component of efforts to address poverty, inequality and social exclusion. The permeation of national public policies and national development goals into sectoral and departmental legislative and policy documents is of interest.

The study has reviewed 501 documents, identified through a systematic search of departmental publications. The document analysis was both quantitative and qualitative. For each document, the number of references to poverty, inequality, social exclusion, gender, race, disability and spatial inequality was calculated. Qualitative content analysis was carried out for references to poverty, inequality and social exclusion indicators according to the following criteria: 1.Contextual-generic (general reference to poverty for example as an issue, but no direct engagement); 2.Contextual-specific (detailed engagement with the poverty-related problems to be addressed by the policy/law/strategy); 3.Strategic-generic (general mention of the need for the issue to be addressed); 4.Strategic-specific (tailored responses elaborated in the document). The study focused solely on policy analysis, and did not include implementation or impact outcomes.

Overall, the survey highlights that high numbers of references are not necessarily an indicator of high quality engagement with the issues of poverty, inequality and social exclusion. The qualitative analysis shows that in-depth engagement within policy documents involves differentiated analyses for poverty, inequality and social exclusion respectively, as well as an appreciation for the linkages between them contextualised within a particular sector. The review provides a panoramic view of documents across different social, economic, environmental and administrative sectors of government policy. The study identifies several examples of good practice which combined provide a series of recommendations for moving towards a more systematic approach to addressing poverty, inequality and social exclusion in sectoral legislative and policy-related documents.

In the context of the EADI conference and the panel HP075 - Production and use of knowledge on governance and development: its role and contribution to struggles for peace, equality and social justice’, this paper offers an in-depth case study of the opportunities, trade-offs and challenges faced by a young democracy in an emerging economy, in its efforts to simultaneously address poverty, inequality and social exclusion.

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