Cameroonian-born Dr Nara Monkam is the latest appointee in the Department of Economics in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS). Monkam, who joined the Department of Economics on 1 August 2022 as an Associate Professor of Economics, brings with her more than 16 years' worth of experience in public policy and public economics.
Monkam’s affiliation with the University of Pretoria (UP), dates back to 2009 when she was appointed Deputy Director at the African Tax Institute (ATI) and Director of the ATI’s Francophone Programme.
In her new role, she will be responsible for establishing a Public Policy Hub for EMS and UP at large in addition to her lecturing and research activities in public economics. The Public Policy Hub is envisioned to contribute to the transformation of Africa into a global powerhouse for impactful public policy through collaborative, multi-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary research that will bridge the gap between policymakers, practitioners in the public sector, and research experts. The research conducted in the hub will strengthen evidence-based, contextually relevant, and sustainable public policy in addition to bringing real-world learning to the Faculty’s graduate teaching and training programmes.
This mammoth task is rather an exciting one for her, as it will enable her to broaden the pool of research experts in public policy.
“I am thrilled to be tasked with the establishment of a Public Policy Hub at UP, which, if successful, would allow the University to strengthen its position as an implementing partner of Africa’s development agenda. I also look forward to assisting in widening the pool of emerging research experts working on collaborative research projects with policymakers and practitioners in the public sector to develop research-informed and sustainable public policy,” she says.
Monkam says that the success of this hub will require synergy across UP’s faculties, departments, and centres with strong policy components and connections to the public sector in Africa.
The fiscal policy specialist and public policy expert holds a master’s in economics from the Facultés Universitaires Notre-Dame de la Paix de Namur (University of Namur) in Belgium and a PhD in economics from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University, in the United States. Her research interests are in public economics, domestic resource mobilisation, tax policy and tax administration (TADAT Assessor), fiscal decentralisation, and property taxation.
Prior to joining UP, she was Director of Research at the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) from February 2014 to April 2022, where she was responsible for fostering and maintaining strong relationships with members, establishing and strengthening relationships with development partners and donors, as well as implementing ATAF’s research agenda on taxation and related matters to inform tax reforms and policy formulation in Africa.
Throughout her career, Monkam’s work and research has focused on improving the tax policy and administration in Africa and developing effective public policy on the continent. This has been driven by her passion to contribute to Africa’s social development and economic transformation, supported by innovative and ethical changemakers and leaders.
Some of her career highlights include launching the ATAF Databank, aimed at improving the comparability, analysis, consistency, quality, and accessibility of revenue data for 37 participating countries in Africa for the period 2010 to 2020 and launching the African Multidisciplinary Tax Journal, a policy-relevant international journal that offers high-level, evidence-based, multidisciplinary research on African tax systems. In 2014, she led the conceptualisation and implementation of the ATAF’s Executive Master’s in Taxation, a multi-disciplinary programme aimed primarily at tax administration officials and practitioners in the private sector and civil society. The programme has graduated 86 tax officials to date. Monkam was also integral to the development of the African Tax Research Network (ATRN) in 2015, which today boasts more than 2 000 tax experts. The ATRN seeks to bridge the gap between public policy and academia by fostering research excellence in tax policy, administration, law and thought leadership in Africa.
For her contribution towards the success of the master’s programme and the ATRN, Monkam was awarded the ATAF Executive Secretary’s Award in 2015. She currently serves as an Advisory Board Member of the International Centre for Tax Development’s Local Government Revenue Initiative and as a Board Member of the Tax Justice Network.
Monkam’s advice for upcoming young female researchers in public policy is, “strive to discover your niche, this area where, with the unique combination of your talents and skills, you will become an expert and produce research with societal impact”.