The Virtual Institute, with funding from the Government of Finland, has recently published a second study on trade-related capacity building (TRCB). This time, the research concentrates on TRCB in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs).Written by Francis Matambalya, professor of international trade and marketing and former Vi coordinator at Tanzania’s University of Dar es Salaam, the study takes stock of capacity building needs and activities in African LDCs, surveying key actors and highlighting the characteristics of effective TRCB. The author also examines the specific case of the UNCTAD Virtual Institute and its contribution to strengthening academia’s ability to teach and research trade and development topics in these countries.
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"The issues highlighted here give useful hints about the effectiveness of the partnership between an international development agency and an LDC,” writes HE Dr. Mary Nagu, Minister of State, Investment and Empowerment of Tanzania, in the study’s foreword. “The contribution of the Vi towards developing endogenous capacity in Tanzania (...) on the management of the trade development agenda, which has since been replicated in other African LDCs, is an important undertaking."
Based on the premise that LDCs lack a critical mass of qualified experts to manage their countries' development agendas, the study looks at the potential of academic institutions to ease this constraint -- by providing education and training to current and future trade experts, undertaking research to inform policy-making, and engaging in policy advocacy.
“The Vi has been among the actors spearheading TRCB initiatives in African LDCs,” writes Matambalya, adding that as its interventions focus on both individual and institutional capacity building, the credit, at least in part, for the increased number of tertiary education institutions offering qualitatively competitive trade-related programmes, must go to the Vi.
But, the study concludes, “(d)espite the recent establishment of several trade programmes at African LDC universities, support is still needed to further strengthen the human resources base, provide solid institutional anchoring of these programmes, and address the issue of sustainability in terms of funding.”