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Theme Group "Political Economy of the Great Lakes of
Africa" builds further on a long-time personal commitment to
work in and on the Great Lakes Region. This work was institutionalized
by building long-term partnerships with institutes in the
Region (late eighties), by the founding of the Center
for the Study of the region of the Great Lakes (GRALAC) and by the
organization of a Masters programme on Governance and
Development (late nineties).
The main impetus
to work towards a common academic and interdisciplinary
agenda came from the implosion of the state following
the start of the Transition process in Zaire, the turbulence generated
by the civil war and the genocide in Rwanda and its aftermath
and the crisis caused by the murder of president Ndadaye in
Burundi. These events signal a deep social and economic
crisis in the region but at the same time they challenge researchers to
look for particular ways of collecting and analysing
information and relating their academic work to development action.
first years, the focus was on the collection of information, analysis
and the drafting of policy advice. The 'data' were gathered via a
network of contacts in the region of the Great Lakes and via an
institutional relationship with the Faculté des Sciences &
Techniques de Développement, FCK-Kinshasa.
network was substantially expanded. Not only did the network of
contacts increase but other African countries and actors were included
in the analysis (Uganda, Angola, the Sudan, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya,
South Africa). The yearly publication of an Annuaire
and a series of books on the political economy of the Region were and
still are the main outputs. The actual Theme
Group continues this work, though the emphasis has shifted
more to interdisciplinary analysis of transition processes 'from
conflict to inclusive development'.