The University of Pretoria (UP) and the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) have signed a memorandum of understanding to explore and prioritise opportunities for synergy between the two institutions for greater impact in the food, agriculture and natural resources sectors on the African continent. The signing ceremony took place on 23 October 2019 at UP’s Future Africa campus.
With an Africa-wide mandate, FANRPAN is an autonomous stakeholder-driven policy research, analysis and advocacy network with operational nodes in 18 countries. FANRPAN’s mandate is to coordinate policy research and analysis, leading to the generation of evidence and policy options aimed at promoting the transformation of the food, agriculture and natural resources sectors on the continent. Established in 1997, the formation of the policy network was in response to a call made in 1994 by Ministers of Agriculture from the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region for a network that could provide independent evidence to inform policy making processes, implementation, domestication and/or harmonisation, monitoring and evaluation and mutual accountability at both national and regional levels.
As one of South Africa’s top five research-intensive universities, UP has experience and capacity in executing high-quality, collaborative, transdisciplinary food security related research. Commenting on the signing, UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe said, “UP deliberately balances its focus on research and innovation with partnerships that create an environment that is conducive to scholarly pursuits. It will seek to share its strengths and resources with FANRPAN to further increase the impact of research and policy innovation on socio-economic development in Africa.”
Most recently, the FANRPAN Board and Regional Secretariat conceptualised and developed a policy academy which will focus on developing and sustaining capacities for policy analysis in Africa. The launch of the Africa Policy Academy in November 2018 in Maputo, Mozambique, was in response to the ongoing challenges that Africa faces in transforming agriculture, driven partly by the poor state of policy practice across the continent, and the impact of exogenous factors such as climate change and global economic failures. Speaking after the signing ceremony, the FANRPAN CEO and Head of Mission, Dr Tshilidzi Madzivhandila, lauded the UP-FANRPAN partnership as a step in the right direction and a demonstration of the collaborative approaches required to address the continent’s capacity challenges in the policy space. He said, “Working hand in glove with the UP’s Future Africa Institute, FANRPAN’s Africa Policy Academy (APA) will enhance the continent’s indigenous capacity for policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and analysis, and ultimately contribute positively to the transformation agenda.”
It is proposed that UP’s Future Africa Institute take a leading role in operationalising the partnership at its campus, given the optimal alignment of its objectives and work-programme with the overall focus of the partnership. Professor Cheikh Mbow, the newly appointed director of Future Africa, will spearhead this initiative to position the institute as a policy leader on the continent, and will leverage on FANRPAN’s well-established continental network and presence for effective reach in sub-Saharan Africa.