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Making the Most of the Commodities Programme


How can African countries take advantage of the terms of trade reversal and the commodities boom to promoter development and to avoid the resource curse? How can African economies take advantage of the opportunities opened up by the rise of the Asian Driver economies – China and India.

The Open University and the University of Cape Town have initiated the Making the Most of Commodities Programme (
MMCP) together with African partners in the Universities of Wolverhampton, Ghana, Ibadan, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Development Bank of Southern Africa,

General Objective
The general objective of the MMCP is to assist SSA countries to minimise the potential costs of the boom in commodity prices and to maximise the opportunities which it provides to promote sustainable growth, and to ensure widespread access to the fruits of this growth in a context of good governance

Specific Objectives
Three specific objectives of the
MMCP are:

• To contribute to filling key knowledge gaps which are required to inform policy and to further the empirical and theoretical understanding of the significance and nature of the boom in commodity prices for low income economies.

• To enhance research and policy capabilities within the research community in SSA and build the competency of a younger cadre of researchers to undertake interactive research and policy work in the commodities sector.

• To interact with key stakeholders in order to provide early access to research results, to better inform policy design and delivery, and create a sustainable network focused on maximising the impact of a commodity based industrialisation path for SSA.

The five knowledge gaps
With this distinctive focus on primary level research the MMCP addresses five knowledge gaps:

1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the National Systems of Innovation (NSI) in relation to the commodities sector, and how might it be more effectively utilised to enhance the exploitation and value addition of the commodities sector?

2. What determines the size, nature and development of upstream linkages feeding into the minerals sector?

3. What determines the size, nature and development of downstream linkages using the output of the minerals sector?

4. What are the distributional outcomes consequent on the exploitation of commodities, including ownership, labour utilisation and size-composition of upstream and downstream linkages?

5. What are the implications of the entry of new foreign investors in the SSA commodities sector and policy levers can be employed to gain maximal national advantage?

The Research Agenda
This research agenda will be pursued in a context which strengthens research capabilities in SSA, builds and sustains research networks and interfaces closely with policy makers at the national, regional and global level. Primary research will be conducted with key informants in the NSI, and upstream and downstream linkages in the commodities sector in a number of African countries including Angola, Botswana, Gabon, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia

For More Information Contact:

Prof. Raphael Kaplinsky: R.Kaplinsky@open.ac.uk

Prof. Mike Morris: mike.morris@uct.ac.za