The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group places research and knowledge sharing at the heart of its activities. Generating and sharing knowledge are key components in efforts to reduce poverty and foster development on the continent. The AfDB has systematically emphasized the critical role that knowledge is expected to play in the transformation of African economies to ensure sustainable development and poverty reduction.
It was on these grounds that the AfDB established a development research department in 2007 as part of the Bank’s reform process. The Development Research Department's (EDRE) principal activities include devising and undertaking a programme of research and analysis on priority social and economic development issues that support the Bank's policy and operations agenda and enriching the knowledge base of its regional member countries in a bid to reduce poverty and attain regional integration.
The department’s research team includes regular staff at the Bank as well as consultants. At any given time, the department has many activities underway, lasting from a few months to several years. Its activities include analysis, involving primary data gathering on the continent’s evolving development and economic situation.
The results of the department’s research are disseminated through a variety of channels. These include newsletters; regular reports for subscribers; refereed journals; bibliographic research tools; downloadable reports; books and working papers. The documents are shared with partners and stakeholders of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, and these include member countries of the group, other multilateral development institutions, individual researchers pursuing research on the continent’s economic development and other continental financial institutions that are collaborating with the group in many respects.
The Development Research Department's (EDRE)
The Bank recognizes knowledge generation and development intervention as mutually reinforcing. This explains the high priority that knowledge generation and dissemination has received lately at the Bank, so as to ensure that lessons and development experiences provide direct feedback into the identification of research priorities. The Bank’s research department (EDRE) undertakes and disseminates research on priority issues related to African social and economic development, with particular emphasis on growth, poverty reduction, and accelerating the process of regional economic integration. EDRE is also responsible for providing advice and guidance to Operations Departments on the use of basic economic indicators in the preparation and evaluation of development interventions.
The mandate of the Research Department cuts across several key activities, including the following:
- Managing the preparation of the Bank’s flagship publications, notably the African Economic Outlook, African Development Report, Africa Competitiveness Report, and the African Development Review, and disseminate their findings to the institution’s regional member countries (RMCs), development partners, universities and research bodies, and the media;
- Identifying strategic priorities for Bank-led research on African economic and social development and regional integration issues; undertaking a selected programme of individual and collaborative research related to these strategic priorities, in close cooperation with international and regional research institutions and other stakeholders;
- Developing technical and financial cooperation arrangements with other agencies and institutions carrying out activities related to the Bank’s research and operations priorities;
- Disseminating development research findings internally and externally through the Department’s web site, a wide variety of publications and economic research papers, and, in collaboration with the African Development Institute, through regional and international seminars and workshops, as well as through the annual African Economic Conference;
- Assisting country and sector economists throughout the Bank in developing and employing standardized economic methodologies, utilizing appropriate economic indicators in their operational work, and accessing the results of relevant economic research undertaken within and outside the Bank; and
- Undertaking economic intelligence, analysis and studies as requested by Senior Management, and preparing related papers, briefs, and statements.
To strengthen operational development effectiveness, the Development Research Department developed the Additionality and Development Outcomes Assessment Framework (ADOA) for the ex-ante development impact assessments of its private sector operations. In 2009, EDRE was mandated to assess all private sector operations before they are submitted for Board approval. Through ADOA activities and increased collaboration with Country Operations Departments and Field Offices, EDRE has become more instrumental in enhancing the Bank’s policy advice to RMCs.