SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Shaping Policies across Sub-Saharan Africa for Resilience, Conflict Mitigation &Economic Development

Research findings from the ‘Violent Conflict and Private Economic Activity in Sub-Saharan Africa’ (COPE) project, have provided insights into the relationship between violent conflict and household private economic activity across 10 Sub- Saharan African countries and on the impact of violent conflict on the growth and performance  ofNon-Faming Enterprises (NFE).

Among other results, the research reveals that that violent conflict in Nigeria has a substantial negative indirect impact on NFEs’ performance, mainly driven by supply side constraints (increased cost and reduced availability of capital and intermediate inputs).

The researchers, a collaboration between the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and Global Studies at the University of Sussex, and the National Centre for Technology Management (NACETEM), Nigeria, led by Dr Tommaso Ciarli, presented their findings at an international policy workshop organised by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in July 2019, in Abuja, Nigeria.

The event brought together policy, civil society and key stakeholders from more than thirty organisations and NGOs active in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan countries including members of the Nigerian Government and national media, as well as representatives from the World Bank and universities from across the region.

The presentation of the research findings was followed by a discussion on Violent Conflict and Household Private Economic Activity: National Challenges, between the distinguished speakers from Burundi - Floride Ahitungye, Prorgamme Director, Search for Common Ground, Cote D’Ivoire - Dr Tony Karbo, Director, N'Zarama Center for Peacebuilding, and Ethiopia - Dr Semir Yusuf, Senior Researcher, Institute for Security Studies. The speakers focused on the challenges their countries face with regards to conflict and private economic activity, including, cross border trade, difficult access to regulations, the complex interaction between violent conflict and inequalities (those who benefit and those who loose), and the strong toll on social capital, which is essential for entrepreneurship.

The discussion provided essential comparative material to the subsequent discussion on the sub-national challenges which was presented by local experts: Nathaniel Msen Awupila, CORAFID, Benue, Professor Hauwa E. Yusuf, Kaduna State University/CERSDOV, Yusuph Moses Garba, Legal Practitioner, Jos, Sylvester Osoh, JDPC, Kano. This highlighted how small businesses tend to adapt to the changing demand as they may exploit opportunities created by the violent conflict, transform their structure or relocate.

Participants at the workshop were then engaged in group work on the policy implications arising from the research findings and the event culminated in a policy panel debate, introduced by Dr Joseph Ochogwu, Chief Research Fellow, IPCR with Chair-Idayat Hassan, Director, Centre for Democracy and Development, Nigeria. The panellists: Dr Hussain Abdu, Country Director, Plan International Nigeria, Nigeria, Dr Lohna Bonkat, Nigeria Institute of Legislative and Democratic Studies, Nigeria, Professor Christopher Isike, Professor of African Politics, African Development and International Relations, University of Pretoria, South Africa, Dr Ndubuisi Nwokolo, Senior Policy and Research Lead, Nextier SPD, Nigeria and Sunday Ochoche, Executive Director, The Nigerian Foundation for the Support of Victims of Terrorism, Nigeria were invited to share their views on two key questions:

1)      How do humanitarian and development interventions contribute to the resilience of Non-Farming Enterprises (NFEs), if at all?

2)      How do NFEs resilience contribute, or not, to conflict mitigation, peace, or post-conflict reconstruction?

 The panellists proposed concrete policy recommendations and interventions to guide policymakers and other stakeholders in supporting household economic activity resilience, conducive to conflict mitigation and peace promotion.

With several regions in Africa blighted by on-going violent conflict, the workshop enabled participants to better understand how small businesses could be assisted in conflict-affected communities by discussing the challenges in relation to violent conflict and private economic activity across Sub-Saharan Africa and proposing specific policy recommendations to support the resilience of micro and small firms in areas of violent conflict.