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Journal Article: “Post-normal times: re-thinking the futures of the EU-Africa relationship”

GovInn researchers Dr Robin Bourgeois, Dr Frank Mattheis and Dr John Kotsopoulos have contributed a journal article to the European Journal of Futures Research titled “Post-normal times: re-thinking the futures of the EU-Africa relationship”.  The article is part of the Centre’s EU-Africa Relations in a Changing Global Order (ERGO) and Futures of EU-Africa Relations: Lessons from scenario-building (FEARLESS), which is funded by European Commission’s Erasmus+ Jean Monnet programme.

The nature of the relationship between the European Union (EU) and Africa is in permanent evolution. Historically, the EU mostly dominated the relationship while Africa developed adaptive/reactive strategies. With the establishment of new powers as well as efforts to decolonise the thought and practise of North-South interactions, it is crucial to understand what the future of the relationship could be. The purpose of this paper is to draw lessons from the “Broadening the debate on EU-Africa relations” workshop whose aim was to advance perspectives on EU-Africa relations from the point of view of African scholars. The process consisted of identifying major influential factors in the relationship and assessing what role they played in the past and what role they could play in the future. The results indicate a decline of the importance of EU-dominated factors and the emergence of African agency related factors. We interpret these results as a transformation of this relationship, using the concept “post-normal” to highlight indeterminacy, insolvability and irreversibility as the new context. Implications are discussed regarding the type of research that needs to be developed in order to further investigate this transformation, particularly the meaning of a shifting focus from (normal times) EU-Africa relationship to (post-normal times) Africa-EU relationships.


The full article is open access and can be read here.

Evaluating ‘home grown’ research networks in Africa.

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Camilla Adelle published together with Nico Elema, Ereck Chakauya and David Benson the article ” Evaluating ‘home grown’ research networks in Africa” in the South African Journal of Science.


Attempts to improve the policy environment have led to a growing pressure on governments in Africa to embark on policymaking that is more evidence based and considers a wide spectrum of scientific and indigenous knowledge. Local – or ‘homegrown’ – research networks on the continent can help strengthen the role of scientific knowledge in policymaking by increasing the capacity of researchers and by enhancing the visibility and communication of the research produced. While a large number of regional and sub-regional research networks have sprung up in Africa, the mere existence of networks does not guarantee their success. In reality, the impact of research networks on the science-policy interface depends on how well the networks operate in practice. We present a framework for evaluating the effectiveness of research networks in a way that is comparable across networks.




Read the full article here:


Article ‘Inclusive Businesses and Land Reform: Corporatization or Transformation?’ by Chamberlain and Anseeuw in Land

GovInn’s Associate Fellows Wytske Chamberlain and Ward Anseeuw published the Open-Access article ‘Inclusive Businesses and Land Reform: Corporatization or Transformation?‘ in the journal Land.

Inclusive businesses (IBs), embodying partnerships between commercial agribusinesses and smallholder farmers/low-income communities, are considered to contribute towards rural development and agricultural sector transformation. Structured as complex organizational set-ups consisting of, and overcoming the limitations of, standard inclusive instruments (collective organization, mentorship, supply contract, lease/management contract and equity), they allow for the inclusion of smallholders and low-income communities into commercial agricultural value chains. IBs are a way for governments to engage private agribusinesses in agricultural and rural policies. However, will the commercial sector, through IB partnerships, contribute towards the government’s transformation and developmental objectives? Based on case studies in South Africa—a country engaged in land and agrarian reforms—the effects of IBs at the project level appear positive, illustrated by an increase in production and growth in agricultural assets. However, individual beneficiaries experience only a marginal change in income and livelihoods. Whereas land reform, project development and market integration are generally achieved, the transformation and beneficiary development objectives are compromised. Although commercial agribusinesses contribute to investment needs in the sector and smallholder exposure to commercial markets, IB partnerships allow commercial entities control over the smallholders’ assets. Ownership and secure rights, especially of land, and support of external parties to capacitate beneficiaries and adjust power asymmetries, are essential starting points. Without these aspects, IBs will not lead to effective transformation and development.

Read the full article here:



‘Food sovereignty: shifting debates on democratic food governance’, by Koen Dekeyser and Lorenzo Fioramonti, 26.01.2018

GovInn’s fellow Koen Dekeyser and Director Lorenzo Fioramonti published, together with Lise Korsten, the article ‘Food sovereignty: shifting debates on democratic food governance‘ in the journal Food Security.

This article develops the concept of food sovereignty while it critically reflects on its present status and future trajectories. The concept of food sovereignty provides an alternative framework for solutions to the human and ecological consequences of industrial food systems. While the concept of food sovereignty gains traction at international levels, including at the United Nations, its lack of conceptual clarity contributes to a variety of often diverging interpretations. This frequently constrains practical implementation and weakens its potential as an alternative paradigm to food governance. At the same time, food sovereignty thought is shifting beyond its initial agrarian focus to embrace whole food systems, which includes the role of consumers and urban areas.

Read the full article here:

‘The Human Side of Regions: Informal Cross-border Traders in the Zambia–Malawi–Mozambique Growth Triangle and Prospects for Integrating Southern Africa’, by Chris Nshimbi, 23.10.2017

GovInn’s Co-Director Chris Nshimbi published the article ‘The Human Side of Regions: Informal Cross-border Traders in the Zambia–Malawi–Mozambique Growth Triangle and Prospects for Integrating Southern Africa‘ in the Journal of Borderlands Studies.

This paper examines the activities of informal cross-border traders (ICBTs) in the contiguous borderlands of Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique, in order to determine the replicability and feasibility of the growth triangle phenomenon, which was imported as a concept for economic development from Southeast Asia. It also seeks to establish whether ICBTs can satisfy their economic needs from cross-border trade. Apart from the thorough review of relevant literature, participant observations, face-to-face interviews and focus group discussions were deployed to collect the data for the analysis contained in the paper. Primary data from the fieldwork conducted at various locations in the borderlands is qualitatively and statistically analyzed. ICBTs in these areas include affiliates of traders’ associations and non-affiliates. The contiguous borderlands of the three countries comprise a young population of ICBTs with low incomes who have spent relatively few years in cross-border trade. ICBTs who have been longer in the informal trade business have graduated into formal traders. ICBT activities highlight their contribution to regional integration, from the bottom up. Informal cross-border trade provides employment and livelihoods, placing ICBTs outside extremely poor populations living below USD$1.25 per day. ICBTs also have innovative informal ways of accessing credit based on personal interactions and shared experiences with suppliers of goods. Legally establishing the growth triangle creates an environment that ICBTs exploit in order to satisfy their economic needs, especially with government facilitation.

Read the full article here

‘Foresight for all: Co-elaborative scenario building and empowerment’, by Robin Bourgeois et al in Technological Forecasting and Social Change

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Robin Bourgeois published the article ‘Foresight for all: Co-elaborative scenario building and empowerment‘ with others in the journal of Technological Forecasting and Social Change.

We present here a co-elaborative scenario building approach, called Participatory Prospective Analysis (PPA) and discuss its relevance for empowering local communities/organizations. This approach is adapted from the French “La Prospective”. It is used as an action research engaging local farming communities in expanding their understanding of their own futures. Three cases of local implementation at farmer community level in India, Indonesia, and the Philippines illustrate how this approach was implemented. They are part of a global project in the field of food, agriculture and rural development, aiming at balancing the capacity to use the future, which is currently not fairly distributed to the detriment of local stakeholders, organizations and communities. Our results focus on the emergence of futures literacy as a capability, its connection to local agency and societal transformation. Our discussion highlights what in this approach makes the use of scenarios empowering, beyond its participatory features. The capacity to use the future has a great potential for local agency, even if it does not guarantee that communities will have the power or the willingness to directly engage in actions. Nevertheless, this approach seems to be a promising avenue for making everyone a future-literate potential agent of change.

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‘The EU Water Initiative at 15: origins, processes and assessment’, by Adelle & Benson, 20.06.2017

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Camilla Adelle published together with David Benson the article ‘The EU Water Initiative at 15: origins, processes and assessment‘ in the journal Water International.

This article examines the activities and achievements of the European Union Water Initiative, a transnational, multi-actor partnership established in 2002 by the European Commission to support water governance reforms around the world. Two regional components of the initiative – (a) Africa and (b) Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia – are studied with a focus on their organizational structures, activities, policies and achievements. The analysis provides evidence for improved regional dialogue and cooperation in the water sector, but also points to persistent weaknesses, in particular a lack of resources, ownership and mutual understanding as to the overall aims of the Initiative.



Read the full article here:

‘The EU–South Africa Strategic Partnership and global environmental governance: Towards effective multilateralism after Copenhagen?’, by Adelle & Kotsopoulos, 06.07.2017

GovInn’s Senior Researchers Camilla Adelle and John Kotsopoulos published the article ‘The EU–South Africa Strategic Partnership and global environmental governance: Towards effective multilateralism after Copenhagen?’ in the South African Journal of International Affairs.

This paper uses an analytical framework drawn from organisational studies to unpack and evaluate climate change relations under the EU–South Africa Strategic Partnership. The article finds that, while the EU and South Africa share a common purpose and high-level climate goals, many of the formal organisational structures set up under the partnership to tackle climate change and the environment are weak and have fallen into disuse. At the same time several factors outside of the strategic partnership, such as South Africa’s hosting of the Durban climate change meeting, have played a significant role in promoting climate cooperation between the two partners. Therefore, while the strategic partnership creates an additional opportunity for climate cooperation, it is by no means the only or even the most important instrument in the EU’s foreign policy tool box for negotiation and dialogue.

Read the full article here:

‘State Transformation and Policy Networks: The Challenging Implementation of New Water Policy Paradigms in Post-Apartheid South Africa’, by Magalie Bourblanc

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Magalie Bourblanc published the article ‘State transformation and policy networks: The challenging implementation of new water policy paradigms in post-apartheid South Africa‘ in the journal Water Alternatives.

For many years, South Africa had represented a typical example of a hydrocracy. Following the democratic transition in South Africa, however, new policy paradigms emerged, supported by new political elites from the ANC. A reform of the water policy was one of the priorities of the new Government, but with little experience in water management, they largely relied on ‘international best practices’ in the water sector, although some of these international principles did not perfectly fit the South African water sector landscape. In parallel, a reform called ‘transformation’ took place across all public organisations with the aim of allowing public administrations to better reflect the racial components in South African society. As a result, civil engineers lost most of their power within the Department of Water Affairs and Sanitation (DWS). However, despite these changes, demand-side management has had difficulties in materializing on the ground. The paper aims at discussing the resilience of supply-side management within the Ministry, despite its new policy orientation. Using a policy network concept, the paper shows that the supply-side approach still prevails today, due to the outsourcing of most DWS tasks to consulting firms with whom DWS engineers have nourished a privileged relationship since the 1980s. The article uses the decision-making process around the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase 2 as an emblematic case study to illustrate such developments. This policy network, which has enjoyed so much influence over DWS policies and daily activities, is now being contested. As a consequence, we argue that the fate of the LHWP Phase 2 is ultimately linked to a competition between this policy network and a political one.

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‘Migration and resilience of rural households’ livelihoods in the face of changing political and economic contexts: The case of South Mozambique (1900–2010)’, by Sara Mercandalli, 08.07.2017

GovInn’s Senior Researcher Sara Mercandalli published, together with Ward Anseeuw, the article ‘Migration and resilience of rural households’ livelihoods in the face of changing political and economic contexts: The case of South Mozambique (1900–2010)‘ in the Journal African Studies.

This article investigates how labour migrations of rural households from Leonzoane in Southern Mozambique have changed since the colonial period to a post-war (1992) and post-apartheid (1994) context and their links with livelihoods restructuring. It draws on a qualitative analysis of the features of labour migrations, through a sample of households on five generations. Results reveal the evolution of men’s forms of mobility from longstanding circular and formal migrations to South Africa’s mines, toward multi-sited, informal, and more flexible migrations into mining and other sectors. These renewed forms of mobility are a core element of households’ livelihoods restructuring, as part of strategies to adapt the changing political-economic constraints of the broader globalising environment in terms of increasing informal and volatile labour conditions. The article concludes with a call for further analysis and integration of migration features in development policies.

Read the full article here: