Dr Kabaso narrates her story on how ACBF scholarship helped change her life and enabled her to contribute to evidence-based policy making in Zambia.
I graduated in 1996 from the University of Zambia as an economics major. Upon graduation I was awarded a scholarship to study for a Master’s degree in economics at the University of Nairobi. The scholarship was funded by the Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) through a project at the Directorate of Macroeconomics and Policy Analysis (DMPA) in the Zambian Ministry of Finance. The ACBF support to the ministry had just begun and was intended to build capacity in the area of Macroeconomics Policy analysis. When I completed my Masters, I joined the Department of Economics at the University of Zambia as a lecturer. At that time the Department was grossly understaffed because of the economic challenges the country was going through.
The University staff development program had grounded to a halt. In addition, most people who were able to obtain externally funded scholarships to study abroad were not returning to the university or to Zambia. The ACBF support to the Ministry of Finance under the DMPA project enabled more people to be trained within universities in Africa and later join the Ministry and the University of Zambia.
In 2005, I was awarded a second scholarship by the Africa Economic Research Consortium (AERC), another ACBF-supported institution, to study at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa under the Collaborative PhD Programme (CPP). After obtaining a PhD in Economics in 2010, I returned to the University of Zambia. However, armed with new energy, I was looking for something a bit more challenging. When an opportunity opened at the newly established think tank, the Zambia Institute for Policy Analysis (ZIPAR), I took a leave of absence from the university and joined ZIPAR as a research fellow. After working for ZIPAR for only a few months, the Executive Director left and I was appointed acting Director while the steering committee, the board of ZIPAR, was trying to fill the position. I acted in the position for over one year and the committee recommended that I was actually the person it was looking for. I was appointed as Executive Director of ZIPAR.
ZIPAR is a semi-autonomous policy think tank established by the government of Zambia with the support of the ACBF. It was established as an offshoot of the DMPA Projects at the Ministry of Finance, the same project where funding for my Masters programme came from. Therefore, I have come full circle and I see myself as born and bred of the capacity building efforts of ACBF.
Looking back 18 years ago, the ACBF was hardly known even to me as I set out for University of Nairobi. But today, many institutions in Zambia have either been directly or indirectly impacted positively by the capacity building efforts of the ACBF. ZIPAR is currently playing a leading role in carrying out researches and policy analysis in order to provide evidence-based policy recommendations and advice to various ministries and government institutions in Zambia. This includes working with the members of parliament by providing their parliamentary committees with well researched and analysed memoranda on topics on their agenda during their sessions.
ZIPAR has also made initial inroads by engaging with the private sector on policy matters through making presentations at private sector business seminars, including research topics that contribute to shaping policies affecting the sector. We are also actively engaged with the media to reach out to the wider public so as to enrich policy dialogue and debate by providing informative commentary on current and future policy developments.
This article was featured on the ACBF Website. All credits go to them [http://goo.gl/UMY1NT].