The launch of AERC goes back to the late 1980s, when a small group of Africanists and African scholars began to recognize the disconnect between economic policy making and economic research in sub-Saharan Africa. Available research results, applied to other economies, did not always seem appropriate to the African context. And where such results were available, they were too often not put to use.
Their concern swelled into a full-fledged idea; they had a discussion about a vehicle for pooling their expertise and applying it to the development of economic policy capacity in sub-Saharan Africa. And instead of sitting around mumbling about the problem, they decided to act. Thus, the AERC was born. The idea was fairly simple– to set up a framework for supporting sound economic research on themes of importance to the management of economies in Africa and make existing expertise available through experienced economists who could serve as resource persons to the researchers supported under the framework. First, they were able to convince one donor to support the idea, then a small group of donors.
That group of donor agencies grew into the actual Consortium itself. Based in Nairobi, AERC was formally established in 1988. A postgraduate training programme soon followed the research efforts, and then a publishing and communications component. Today the Consortium reaches across sub-Saharan Africa, with research and training alumni serving in central banks, ministries of finance, economic departments of universities and policy research institutes.