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Research priorities

The IGC supports research focused on four themes:

State: This theme investigates how to improve the capacity of the public sector in developing countries to effectively deliver public goods and services that support economic growth. This includes issues such as governance and public sector management, public finance and taxation, political economy, and conflict.

Firms: This theme aims to generate knowledge related to firm capabilities and job creation. This work covers all types of firms: large, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and farms, in both formal and informal sectors. Research topics include the determinants of firm productivity and policies to stimulate trade.

Cities: This theme explores what makes cities effective centres of economic prosperity, addressing both the drivers of and constraints to growth. Issues include the economics of agglomeration, improving infrastructure and service provision, building affordable housing markets, and migration.

Energy: This theme focuses on the significant role that access to reliable energy plays in shaping the growth paths of developing countries. Topics include improving access to and quality of energy services for households and firms, rural electrification, energy efficiency, and the effects of energy consumption on health and the environment.

For more detailed information on research priorities by theme and country, please use the filters below. All applicants are strongly encouraged to view the global priorities, as well as those related to the country/s they are interested in.

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Research Theme

  • Improving service delivery in the public sector

    The studies required in this area include, studies that look at measuring and understanding the constraints to improving the performance and productivity of public servants.


    It also includes studies that look at how to improve the delivery of services like education, health, security, etc by the public sector.

  • Understanding the constraints to local government revenue mobilisation

    While internally generated funds (IGF) collected by local governments in Ghana are generally low, there is also a large variation in the IGF collected across the various local governments. Why are IGFs collected by local governments so low? What accounts for the large variation in the IGF?


    Studies that look at answering some of these questions will contribute to our understanding of what can be done to improve revenue mobilisation at the local government level.

  • Renewable sources of energy in the power generation

    In order to meet the energy requirements to maintain the economic growth momentum – approximately GDP 7%, there is need to understand the optimal combination of renewable and non-renewable sources of energy generation. Development of a framework for long term energy security to support sustainable growth is needed.

  • Gains from urban growth (e.g. strategies for clustering of settlements/firms to maximize agglomeration effects, entrepreneurship)

    Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) account for a large share of GDP and the vast majority of employment in Zambia. Many MSMEs are located in dense urban areas that provide an opportunity to take advantage of agglomeration. These synergies also operate on a more localised-industry-specific scale, encouraging firms to locate in clusters in a similar line of business. The Zambia Development Agency has expressed interest in research in this area, as it would help uncover the dynamics of clusters and MSMEs and thus inform their policies related to business development.

    Specific research questions include: a) What is the nature/impact of agglomeration effects across cities and sectors? b) what are potential links to rural areas that may be mutually beneficial for both urban and rural development? c) How effective are current policies on business development and urban planning in facilitating the growth of MSMEs?

  • Capacity of Zambian cities to provide basic services for rapidly growing urban populations. (e.g. urban land use, slums, water and sanitation, waste management, public private partnerships, housing, electricity, crime and health) to support robust urban development.

    Zambia is experiencing a rapid growth in urban population through natural population growth, rural-urban migration and transformation of rural into urban areas. There are serious policy and institutional challenges to address this agenda. Important research questions include: a) What are the demographic characteristics of this transformation? b) How can local authorities establish adequate capacity to ensure basic service delivery for growing populations? c) How can feedback mechanisms and transparency and accountability systems be integrated into implementation? Is there an adequate national/local policy framework to plan and adapt to urban policy at the national and local levels?