MacArthur has announced a grant of $450,000 over three years to the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) based in Nairobi, Kenya, to help establish a collaborative doctoral program in economics at four African universities.
The four universities that will take part in the program are the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, the University of Yaounde in Cameroon, the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
The grant is part of the Foundation's commitment to support higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa, especially Nigeria. MacArthur is a participant in the Partnership to Improve Higher Education in Africa, an initiative of the MacArthur, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations and the Carnegie Corporation of New York designed to build stronger universities on the continent.
MacArthur support of AERC will help to expand the community of professional economists in Africa as well as strengthen the quality of doctoral training in the economics field there. It will create centers of excellence across the region that will enable African students to earn economics degrees at home that are comparable in quality to those available abroad, while encouraging scholars in the field to pursue careers at African institutions. The centers will build upon existing Masters programs and will be designed to address issues in the economics field specific to the African experience.
"By creating regional centers of excellence, the African Economic Research Consortium will increase the pool of skilled researchers and policy analysts at work in Sub-Saharan Africa," said Jonathan F. Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation. "Scholars trained in this program will help illuminate the economic policy choices for government officials and help the general public decide, through the political process, what direction economic policy should take in their country. These choices will be critical to breaking the poverty trap, becoming more competitive globally and distributing resources more equitably at home."
MacArthur has a particular interest in helping improve universities in Nigeria, where the Foundation has an office and has engaged in grantmaking since 1994. The Foundation has provided substantial support for the University of Ibadan, Bayero University in Kano, Ahmadu Bello University, and the University of Port Harcourt.
The Foundation also funds efforts in Nigeria to improve adolescent sexual health, women's reproductive rights, and human rights, as well as a range of issues specific to the Niger Delta region. Grants in Nigeria are made through the Foundation's Program on Global Security and Sustainability.