Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Article - Alfred R. Bizoza

Setting a Research Agenda: A case for the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda), Kigali, Rwanda

Alfred R. Bizoza
Director of Research at the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda), Rwanda

Alexandre Simons, Ph.D.
Integrated Expert – Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda), Rwanda
Think tanks in Africa are in their development age and this brings a lot of discussions on their reforms towards their sustainability in responding to their respective mandates. Some of the emerging debates are around their financial sustainability; their relevance to the policy and community; forming partnerships and consortiums; and setting a research agenda that address emerging issues in the country, in the region and the whole world.

The institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR-Rwanda)—whose mandate is to carry out research and policy analysis aimed at impacting change—sets its research agenda focusing on themes that are interdisciplinary and are able to explicitly address new and emerging issues. Therefore, the policy analysis and research areas are embodied in a 5-Year Strategic Plan which in turn is informed by the national, regional and international development dynamics. The prominent development frameworks informing the research agenda at national level include the country’s long-term development vision (such as Vision 2020 to be upgraded to Vision 2050), government programme (such as 7-Year Government Programme), the mid-term development framework (such as the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy – a 5-Year strategy) and the Sector Strategic Plans. At a regional level, issues pertaining to the region such as regional or trade integration receive our research attention. At an international level, reference is now made to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while prior to 2015, we would frame our research agenda in the context of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These research areas are deemed to be relevant and influential for policymaking in the country with intellectual independence.    

IPAR-Rwanda benefits from a very conducive political and economic environment to carry out its policy analysis and research. IPAR’s research is divided into three main categories: Core research, collaborative research and commissioned research. Under core research, the institute decides an area to focus on in conducting its policy analysis and research. For example, private sector development is currently the core area of research for IPAR for the next 5 years (2017-2021). The justification of the choice of this area draws from the overarching national policy direction which envisages having a private sector-led economy, as one of the six strategic policy pillars of the Vision 2020.  Collaborative research is implemented with different partners (public, private, Civil Society organisations, regional and international organisations, and universities). For this period, areas of research considered include sustainable economic growth and transformation, social development, Governance and Democracy, agriculture, rural Development and Settlement, environment and natural resources management. Under commissioned research, IPAR does research with different local, regional and international partners as indicated above. However, the research projects under this category need to respond to the organisational mandate. The institute is always eager to create a conducive environment that allows researchers to produce high-quality policy research reports with relevant and timely policy recommendations.

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