Africa Research Institute

Africa Research Institute

Aiming to reflect, understand and build on the dynamism in Africa today
Formation 2007
Type Public Policy and Development in Africa Think Tank
Headquarters London, United Kingdom

Africa Research Institute (ARI) is an independent not-for-profit think-tank that was founded in February 2007. It is the only think-tank in the UK to focus exclusively on political, economic and social issues in sub-Saharan Africa.[1] ARI strives to inform domestic and international policy making through publishing research and hosting interactive events. ARI’s mission is to draw attention to ideas or policies that have worked in Africa by highlighting and analysing best-practices in government, the economy and civil society. ARI encourages debate and challenges conventional wisdom in and about sub-Saharan Africa. It seeks to provide a nuanced and representative understanding of the region, as opposed to conventional “binary” depictions that often dominate the Western media. The organisation has published work on urbanisation, political and institutional reform, regional integration, health and agriculture, amongst other issues.


Africa Research Institute was founded in February 2007. Its first publication, The Day After Mugabe: prospects for change in Zimbabwe,[2] collected a broad range of analysis and commentary from across the political spectrum, with perspectives from Africa, China, Europe and North America. The book was chosen as one of the “Best Books of 2007” by The Observer newspaper[3] and reviewed by Spectator magazine.[4] Since then, the institute has published numerous briefing notes, articles, papers and podcasts. All of ARI’s publications are in English, with a select few also published in French. ARI also hosts events, in the form of panel discussions, round-tables, debates and book launches . Mark Ashurst, a former Johannesburg correspondent for the Financial Times and BBC Africa, was the first director of ARI from 2007 to 2010.[5] He was succeeded in 2011 by Edward Paice, a historian specialising in the Horn of Africa and Eastern Africa.[6]


Africa Research Institute publishes works in five formats. All publications are freely available from the institute’s website, and in hard copy upon request.

Policy voices

Africa Research Institute’s Policy Voices series highlights instances of individual or group achievement that have important implications for policy. The contributors to this series are able to draw on extensive expertise in their respective specialist field. The Policy Voices series was launched in December 2008, with the publication of Feeding five thousand: the case for indigenous crops in Zimbabwe by Paul Chidara Muchineripi,[7] and Think small: The example of small grants in Madagascar by Brian Donaldson.[8] Other Policy Voices have covered diverse topics such as urban planning, tax reform, political and institutional reform, and agriculture. In 2013, Africa Research Institute published its first Policy Voice in French, Pour l’Etat et le citoyen: la réforme de l’administration fiscale au Burundi, by Kieran Holmes, Domitien Ndihokuwayo, and Chantal Ruvakubusa of the Office burundais des recettes [9]


The Counterpoints series seeks to critically analyse or challenge conventional assumptions about the continent. The first Counterpoints series was launched in 2010 with the publication of Why Africa can make it big in agriculture, by Mark Ashurst and Stephen Mbithi;[10] How intellectuals made history in Zimbabwe by Blessing-Miles Tendi;[11] and Africa through my television, by Michael Holden.[12]

Briefing notes

ARI’s Briefing Notes provide critical analyses of pertinent political and economic issues across the continent. Its first Briefing Note - Keeping peace in D.R. Congo - was published in December 2007, and analysed the prospects for the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) in the DRC after 2007.[13] Since then ARI has published a host of Briefing Notes on a vast array of subjects, including the use of fertiliser subsidies in Malawi, democratic elections, the role of China in Africa and land reform in South Africa.


The Conversations series offers insights into the perspectives of high-level politicians or civil servants on wide-ranging and overarching issues concerning sub-Saharan Africa. The first edition of the Conversations series, released in 2013, features an interview with China’s Special Representative on African Affairs, Zhong Jianhua, to provide a Chinese perspective on China’s engagement with Africa, and a direct answer to accusation by former Nigerian Central bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi, that Chinese investment in Africa has contributed to its “deindustrialisation and underdevelopment”.[14]


Africa Research Institute’s Papers provide an in-depth exploration of a specific issue or subject. Through this format, ARI has explored the potential of regional integration in poverty reduction, parliamentary accountability in Tanzania and agricultural subsidies in Malawi.


Africa Research Institute hosts several events a year, including public panel discussions or debates, around subjects related to its publications. These events are attended by people from various sectors, including academia, diplomacy, civil society, and the private sector.


Africa Research Institute is a UK-registered charity, number 1118470. It receives funding from the family foundation of Richard Smith, a British industrialist who is also chairman of the board.

Advisory Board

Partner organisations

See also


  1. About ARI, Accessed 2014-04-24
  2. Gugulethu Moyo and Mark Ashurst (eds.) The Day After Mugabe: Prospects for Change in Zimbabwe, Africa Portal Library(2007), Accessed 2014-04-24
  3. Philip Hoare (2007), The Observer - That's the best thing we've read all year - part two, Accessed 2014-04-24
  4. Robert Salisbury (2007), How to Ruin a Country, Spectator Magazine, Accessed 2014-04-24
  5. Devex Professional Profile: Mark Ashurst, Accessed 2014-04-24
  6. ARI Contacts - Edward Paice Archived April 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine., Africa Research Institute (Official Website), Accessed 2014-04-24
  7. Paul Chidara Muchineripi (2008), Feeding five thousand: the case for indigenous crops in Zimbabwe, Africa Research Institute, Accessed 2014-04-24
  8. Brian Donaldson (2008), Think small: The example of small grants in Madagascar, Africa Research Institute, Accessed 2014-04-24
  9. Kieran Holmes et al. (2013) Pour l’Etat et le citoyen: la réforme de l’administration fiscale au Burundi, Africa Research Institute, Accessed 2014-04-24
  10. Mark Ashurst and Stephen Mbithi (2010), Why Africa can make it big in agriculture, Africa Research Institute, Accessed 2014-04-24
  11. Blessing-Miles Tendi (2010), How intellectuals made history in Zimbabwe, Africa Research Institute, Accessed 2014-04-24
  12. Michael Holden (2010), Africa through my television, Africa Research Institute, Accessed 2014-04-24
  13. Keeping peace in the D.R Congo (2007), Africa Research Institute, Accessed 2014-04-24
  14. Conversations - Ambassador Zhong Jianhua, China's Special Representative on African Affairs on trade, aid and jobs (2013), Accessed 2014-04-24

External links

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