The 2017 PEP Annual Conference was held June 8-14 in Nairobi, Kenya

The 2017 PEP Annual Conference in Kenya brought together around 150 researchers, practitioners, international experts, representatives of donor and international organizations, and policy actors from 39 countries for a highly successful event.

The conference featured several activities over the seven days. As PEP’s first Annual Conference since the launch of the new Policy Analysis on Growth and Employment (PAGE II) initiative, shortlisted research teams were invited to present their Round 1 project proposals for discussion and feedback prior to final selection. PEP Resource Persons and experts provided intensive training sessions. The conference concluded with a high-level Policy Forum and Research Forum. Find out more about the event’s objectives and activities below, and in the souvenir program.

June 8-11: Technical training sessions

Strengthening research capacities in developing countries

A key part of PEP’s mission is to increase the technical knowledge and ability of developing country researchers. As such, PEP provided a series of (parallel) intensive training workshops on the different research methods, techniques, and tools that funded researchers will use in their projects. These sessions comprised learning how to apply cutting-edge research methods and analytical tools, including innovations fostered through the experience of PEP supported research and initiatives.

PEP staff and Resource Persons also provided special workshops to help new PEP grantees prepare their policy engagement strategy and get their research published (more below).


June 8 - Policy engagement workshop

The Policy Engagement Workshop discussed best practices for policy outreach and communication, from the project’s outset, to maximize the chances of research uptake. This workshop highlighted the importance for researchers to understand the policy and political context surrounding their research topic.

The Policy Engagement Workshop was organized by PEP’s Communications and Monitoring and Evaluation team who explained the key milestones for policy outreach during a PEP-supported study.

During the Policy Engagement Workshop, researchers learnt about choosing their target audience(s) and how to adapt their message to difference (non-academic) audiences.

Download the workshop presentation.

June 9 - CBMS field visit to Muthithi Location, Muranga County, Kenya

Applicant teams for CBMS research projects visited Muthithi Location, the study site of a successful CBMS project.

The project team leader, Dr. Diana Kimani, presented the research findings during a meeting with local officials and community members. Officials included the Muthithi Location Assistant Chief, and the Chief Officer for Muranga County for the Ministry of Youth and Gender Affairs.

A walk around the CBMS census site followed the meeting. This visit was a key opportunity for local officials to meet community members and to put a human face to the statistics. It was also a chance for applicant researchers to hear how some of those surveyed found the experience.

The applicant researchers found the opportunity to see how a CBMS project was carried out and its ongoing impact particularly valuable.

June 11 - Scientific writing workshop

The Scientific Writing Workshop discussed the art of getting a scientific paper published. The session included plenty of practical advice for writing a paper. Areas of advice included the content of key sections, how to properly reference a paper, how to make sure the paper is well written, and how to adapt the paper’s format and structure to target different journals.

The presenters also looked at ethical and legal issues related to publishing scientific papers. Issues included plagiarism and predatory journals.

PEP Resource Persons Habiba Djebbari, Guy Lacroix, and Luca Tiberti presented the session.

Download the workshop presentation.

June 12-13: Presentation of new project proposals

Through the new PAGE II initiative, PEP is supporting a series of developing country research projects. The projects will conduct policy analysis on growth and employment using one of four methodologies.

The 35 teams shortlisted for the first funding round of the PAGE II initiative (launched July 2016) were invited to present their proposals. An audience of their peers and international experts discussed the proposed research questions and methodologies. These sessions provided valuable feedback to the teams to improve their proposals. Following the presentations, the final selection of proposals was made. 


June 14: High-level policy forum and research forum

On June 14, PEP hosted a high-level policy forum and a research forum to conclude the 2017 PEP Annual Conference. More than 110 people from 37 countries attended, including researchers, international experts, stakeholders, donors, and decision makers.

Promoting youth and female entrepreneurship: Evidence-based policy options

Attendees at the 2017 Policy Forum discussed and debated how policy recommendations – particularly those based on PEP research – can support youth and female entrepreneurs.

During the Policy Forum, the results and recommendations from PEP projects investigating the constraints to female entrepreneurship in seven developing countries were discussed with policymakers, researchers, and practitioners, including a representative of UN Women Kenya.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs officially opened the event. The Hon. Sicily Kariuki emphasized the need for evidence-based policymaking, saying: “To address the challenges that youth and women are facing, governments must be able to rely on well-informed counsel, based on scientific evidence.”

Professor Michael Chege, Public Policy Consultant, delivered the keynote address. He focused on why nearly half of start-ups owned by women and youth in Africa fail in the first year. He highlighted training and education as a key area where policy can support entrepreneurship saying: “Although African youth start businesses in proportionately greater numbers than their counterparts in other developing countries, they tend to be less prepared for it.” While recognizing the high rate of failure, Prof. Chege promoted learning from these experiences. “Every failed entrepreneurial experiment should be viewed as a knowledge-creating opportunity,” he said.

Following the panel presentations and comments, questions were taken from the floor. Asked whether access to credit or access to information poses the greatest barrier to entrepreneurship, panelist and researcher, Dr. Abdoulaye Seck said: “We recognize that giving credit to young and female entrepreneurs may not solve the problem, that is why programs should be supplemented with business training.”

During the policy forum, researchers concluded that the fear of taking formal credit—often due to lack of information—insufficient business training, and structural discrimination are the key issues inhibiting youth and female entrepreneurship in developing countries. The speakers agreed that policies are needed to reduce and remove structural discrimination and that research should support this aim. Meanwhile, education and training were highlighted as areas where policy can ease constraints within the existing system

Download the speeches (PDF):

Prof. Jane Mariara Executive Director, PEP
Dr. Simon Carter Regional Director, IDRC
Ms. Njambi Kinyungu Chef de Cabinet, Office of the Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Official opening: H.E. Sicily Kariuki, MBS, EGH Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Republic of Kenya
Keynote address: Prof. Michael Chege Public policy consultant

Research Forum: Gender analysis in economic policy research

The question of how to produce gender-sensitive research, including how to recognize structural discrimination, was explored during the Research Forum. Moderated by Arjan de Haan from Canada’s IDRC, three expert panelists discussed the importance of gender analysis and offered useful insights and practical advice to PEP researchers who are required to incorporate gender analysis into their research.

The discussions showed that research without gender analysis is not gender neutral but gender blind. However, being able to accurately analyse gender issues or produce gender-sensitive research is difficult. Researchers need to conduct separate analyses of men and women and pay particular attention to the research questions they are asking. Though more challenging, time-consuming, and expensive, structural gender biases can be accounted for using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methodologies.

Download the presentations (PPT):

Dr. James Heintz University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA
Dr. Dileni Gunewardena University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka
Dr. Caroline Kabiru African Population and Health Research Center, Inc., Kenya

Download the full report from the Policy and Research Forums.

The 2017 PEP Annual Conference was held at the Sankara Nairobi and organized thanks to support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID, or UK Aid) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

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