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Banata Tchale Sow, the Republic of Chad's Secretary of State for Finance and Budget, attributes her career success to a program she entered after a rigorous selection process in 1994 and that she completed two years later, earning a post-graduate degree in macroeconomics.

Sow is a graduate of the Programme de Troisième Cycle Inter-Universitaire (PTCI, Interuniversity Graduate Program), administered by a network of 18 economics-focussed education and research institutions. Founded with IDRC's support, PTCI provides local training to high-level economists to help offset the shortage of experts in Francophone Africa, which is frequently cited as one of the main obstacles to development efforts in these countries. 

I can say that PTCI has made me what I am today: a Francophone African woman fighting my battles without complaint and moving toward my goals by finding the resources I need to achieve them.

Banata Tchale Sow

A critical mass of graduates

Between 1994 and 2017, the program produced more than 2,500 economists who are well-versed in leading-edge analysis techniques. PTCI has successfully built a reputation for excellence with its competitive recruitment and highly qualified graduates.

Follow-up with former students shows that the vast majority (87%) of graduates choose to pursue their careers within Francophone Africa, holding positions as advisors, directors, secretaries-general or other influential roles at institutions in their respective countries. Some, like Sow, are appointed to strategic positions in senior public administration or at one of the sub‑region’s two central banks.

Leading the way toward sustainable development

PTCI’s contribution to the economic and social development of Africa’s Francophone nations, including Madagascar, is significant. PTCI was established in 1994 by the Conférence des Institutions d’Enseignement et de Recherches en économiques et de gestion en Afrique (CIEREA, Conference of educational institutions and of economic and management research in Africa), a network that originated in the structural adjustment programs of the 1980s. States participating in these programs receive conditional loans from international institutions to promote free trade and economic competitiveness in exchange for a drastic reduction of social expenditures.

The PTCI responded by developing a strategy based on the pooling of national human resources to train graduate and post-graduate students in economics across the entire region. The program seeks to address the lack of research professors and skilled economists/managers who conduct rigorous research and implement strategies for sustainable development in Francophone African countries, some of which are among the poorest in the world both financially and in terms of human development.

Revenue crisis management

Regional economies, which are heavily dependent on natural resource exploitation, are avidly pursuing inclusive growth that generates real opportunities for women and children. In Francophone countries across the region, PTCI graduates are making contributions to this effort.

In her role as Secretary of State for Finance and Budget, for example, Sow is responsible for proposing innovative solutions to compensate for Chad's drop in oil revenue, from which the bulk of government revenue is derived. With the highest infant mortality rate in the world in 2009, it is clear that Chad will only reach its sustainable development goals if a long-term solution is found for the budget crisis that was triggered by falling oil prices in international markets. Sow is following the example of her colleague in Côte d’Ivoire, Yeo Nahoua, to identify a solution.

Like Chad, Côte d’Ivoire is currently watching its double-digit growth outlook shrink due to a decline in cocoa prices on the global market. Since Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest cocoa producer, it is essential to reassess development plans and identify alternative scenarios for funding its development. Using the technical expertise he acquired through PTCI, Yeo Nahoua, Cabinet Director of the Ministry of Planning and Development of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, is currently leading the team responsible for finding solutions to ensure that sustainable development goals are reached.

The backbone of faculties of economics

The follow-up study among PTCI graduates revealed that program alumni are also involved in educating young women and men. Making up 50% to 90% of the economics faculties at universities across the region, these graduates are making significant contributions to the university-level education and support of young African Francophones.

At the University of Yaoundé II in Cameroon, for example, 90% of the 21 assistant professors hired in the last two years are from PTCI. At Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar, Senegal, 74% of the full-time instructors in the economics department are PTCI graduates. Numerous dean and associate dean positions at universities in Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Congo, and Burkina Faso are also occupied by former PTCI students.

Strategic support

IDRC's ongoing technical and financial support over the course of more than 20 years — despite a loss of interest among traditional donors to education and capacity-building programs — has helped PTCI pursue its mission and objectives.

In addition to the Canadian expertise regularly leveraged for tasks such as giving lessons to students, PTCI has repeatedly benefited from the support of resource persons in designing strategic and resource mobilization plans and from networking with Canadian universities. Canadian cooperation through IDRC and PTCI is helping to build a more fair and prosperous world in accordance with fundamental Canadian values.

Region

Chad

Cameroon

Benin

Senegal

Togo

Burkina Faso

Country Profile

We’ve supported Benin researchers since 1985. Positive developments have included rapid alert committees to inform farmers about climatic hazards in their communities. Researchers also trained large numbers of farmers in sustainable agricultural practices, and gave the country’s decision-makers tools to design policies to combat poverty. 

Access to health care

To encourage better access to health services, IDRC-supported research in Benin contributed to the “Bamako Initiative.” Adopted by many African leaders, it aims to improve access to health care and essential medications throughout Africa. Researchers proved that buying generic drugs wholesale considerably diminished treatment costs. 

Farming in urban and rural settings

Our funding in agricultural research in Benin has helped improve small farm operations. For example, the Songhai Centre trains farmers to lessen environmental degradation and adopt effective agricultural techniques to help them earn a profit. With our support, a network of telecentres was established in three small Benin cities. Using distance learning, these centres teach farming techniques and business skills to rural farmers. 

Research in Houéyiho, a district of the economic capital, Cotonou, made it possible to evaluate and protect against the health risks associated with small-scale market gardening. Urban market gardeners adopted simple measures, such as building latrines, to successfully prevent transmission of the malaria parasite and improve the health of farmers and their families. 

Total IDRC Support

100 activities worth CAD22.4 million since 1985

Benin woman carrying water on her head.
World Bank / A.Hoel

Our research is helping

  • create sustainable food production in the Sahel region
  • reduce the negative effects of climate change on food security and rural poverty
  • reduce urban air pollution, which causes more than 36 million deaths annually worldwide 
  • establish strong research capabilities at Benin’s Institute for Empirical Research in Political Economy 
  • support ecohealth initiatives in Eastern and Southern Africa — exploring how changes in the earth's ecosystems affect human health

Country Profile

We have long supported research in Senegal, one of West Africa’s more stable democracies. For example, we supported the 2011 opening of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Mbour. Part of an emerging network of centres, the Institute offers advanced training in mathematics to Africa’s brightest graduates, increasing the continent’s scientific and technical expertise.

Our funded research has reduced poverty, and improved urban agriculture and education. For example, a system for tracking poverty helped local authorities design more targeted and effective programs for the poor. In the Tivaouane district, a new nutrition program for children and expectant mothers addresses needs identified by a survey.

Urban agriculture

Many studies in Dakar, the capital of Senegal, have demonstrated the vital role of farming within the city — especially important for local authorities. Urban farming in Dakar helps feed residents, provide jobs, and lets the city better manage its garbage and wastewater.   In addition, one of our research grantees showed city residents how to treat wastewater with an aquatic plant. Treated water can then be safely used to irrigate gardens. The United Nations human settlement program, HABITAT, listed this innovation as a “best practice,” and the World Bank integrated it in its programs.

Information technology for improved learning

Research supported by Canadian experts piloted a project on the use of information technology in a Dakar school. The project improved students’ reading and writing ability, and rapport between teachers and students. The experiment showed that information technology in the classroom encourages greater student independence and leads to better academic results. The project’s success led the Senegalese Education Ministry to use digital technology as a principal strategy to improve the quality of teaching and learning throughout the country.

Total IDRC Support

416 activities worth CAD68.9 million since 1972

Senegal mother touching her child.
Hewlett Foundation / J.Torgovnik

Our support is helping

  • improve research quality in Senegal, and strengthen links to policy outcomes
  • understand the impacts of youth migration on rural labour markets 
  • develop strategies to deal with the tonnes of electronic and computer waste donated from other countries   
  • determine why laws, strategies, and systems to protect women from violence are not working, and offer recommendations
  • find solutions for climate change flooding in Dakar’s out-of-control urban sprawl
  • support anti-smoking campaigns using higher taxes as disincentives

Country Profile

Our long history of research support in Burkina Faso dates back to 1973 — one of the few West African countries with a national coordinating centre for research. Our support has enabled the centre to launch a biennial forum where decision-makers, scientists, and the public can discuss research results and innovation. We have also enabled researchers to create an online justice system database so leaders can re-orient health policy. This database allows the poor access to services at regional hospitals.

Food and incomes

Our contributions improved food security for rural residents through research on wild fruit. It led to better harvesting, processing, and marketing techniques, as well as improved information on the fruit’s nutritional value. Research also made it possible for harvesters to sell sought-after products in cities, while preserving the wild orchards’ natural biodiversity. In collaboration with Canadian experts, researchers developed a press to extract butter from shea tree nuts. Hundreds of villagers and numerous small enterprises now produce and sell a wide range of food and cosmetic products using the butter, and export them to developed countries.

Evidence to foster self-sufficiency

IDRC-funded researchers designed a system for communities to collect and track data to accurately understand poverty. The information helps communities address their most pressing problems. For example, more people in the small village of Yako now have adequate food to eat, and more of their children attend school. The village has also started a community vegetable garden, installed a solar-powered water pump, and built more solid housing.

Total IDRC Support

178 activities worth CAD$40.5 million since 1973

Kids in Burkina Faso raising their hands in class.
DFID / J.Lea

Our support is helping

  • validate and promote already-existing research results and innovations 
  • strengthen research and advocacy for Africa’s green revolution
  • institute a university master’s program in health systems and policy analysis
  • improve food security in the context of climate change, with incentives for farmers and researchers
Top image: UNU-WIDER