Research Platform Africa

The Research Platform Africa aims to intensify and consolidate cooperation with excellent partners in sub-Saharan Africa and foster collaborations on research topics of joint interest. Alongside joint field research, we organise conferences and workshops as well as exchange stays among scholarly staff; new research findings are presented in joint publications and events. Among other projects, the platform is involved in a long-standing collaboration with the University of Pretoria's Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) on the Land Matrix Initiative.

With the aim of providing a forum for dialogue on current political and economic issues – and of giving a strong voice to African views – we have organised several events with speakers from the region. Most recently, Professor Emanuel Gyimah-Boadi, executive director of Afrobarometer, was in Berlin to present the latest round of survey data on African views on democracy. Together with Dr. Bärbel Kofler, the German federal government’s commissioner for human rights policy and humanitarian aid, Professor Gyimah-Boadi discussed the implications of current developments for the future of human rights protection and democratic governance in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the region, the research platform has hosted two major events. The conference “The Legacy of Armed Conflicts: Southern African and Comparative Perspectives” was organised in cooperation with the University of Pretoria's Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn). The event brought together academics from Europe, the United States, and sub-Saharan Africa. A recurring theme at the conference was the importance of legitimacy for peace-building and the necessity of considering the continuity between armed conflict and other forms of violent and non-violent social action.

An additional international workshop entitled “Inequality and Middle Class Development in Africa” was held in Cape Town, South Africa. The event was organised in cooperation with the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR), the Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit (SALDRU), and the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation. It offered a variety of presentation and discussion formats that invited scholars and practitioners to reflect on the potential of an emerging middle class to foster inclusive growth and play a transformative sociopolitical role in Africa.

The contacts established through these events have led to continued collaboration with researchers in the region, including reciprocal research stays, joint field research, and joint publications.

As part of its agenda, the Research Platform Africa has provided five small research grants. The projects, which have been competitively selected from close to 100 submissions, are carried out by doctoral students and early career researchers based at research institutions in Ghana, Ethiopia, and South Africa. The issues covered touch upon all four GIGA research programmes (RP). They include

  • the influence of material power on the agency of potential migrants in Ethiopia (RP1,
  • the contribution of grass-roots organisations to mainstream peacebuilding efforts in South Sudan (RP2),
  • the role played by informal manufacturing in growth and industrialisation in Zimbabwe (RP3),
  • the ex ante analysis of on-land crude oil exploration activities in Ghana’s Voltian Basin (RP2/RP3),
  • and the ways in which civil society groups interact both within horizontal networks and vis-à-vis the Southern African Development Community (RP4).

Two of the seed-fund recipients – Emmaculate Asige Liaga from the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria and Godfrey Kamutando from the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town – subsequently applied for and received external funding for an extended research stay at the GIGA.



Prof. Dr. Matthias Basedau

Director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs
Editor GIGA Focus Africa

Main Cooperation Partners