Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) is a programme intended to support policymaking in the Southern Africa region by working closely with researchers to close knowledge gaps crucial to the achievement of inclusive growth and economic transformation. Through SA-TIED, researchers have access to the comprehensive anonymised tax data made available by the National Treasury of South Africa and supported by United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) and many other governmental organisations in South Africa and its sub-region. SA-TIED research is intended to inform policymakers and help deliver frontier solutions to the region’s economic and development problems.

What problem is SA-TIED trying to solve?

At SA-TIED, we believe that the policies and programmes designed to provide a helping hand toward inclusive economic growth and opportunity will reach their desired targets more effectively by pairing researchers with policymakers to create the most policy-relevant research. By doing this, we can create research that not only diagnoses the impediments preventing policies from producing the best results, but find solutions to those impediments as well.

This is why we have developed our broad partnership with both expert research institutions and government departments, which includes the National Treasury of South Africa (NT), United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), and South African Revenue Service (SARS) to enable research that can directly support policymakers.

SA-TIED AccomplishmentsImpact of the project so far

The first phase of the SA-TIED programme was implemented from 1 November 2017 to 31 March 2022. It led to major research contributions to the policy environment and made administrative data available to researchers, which provided a valuable resource to policymakers around the world and broader insight into how public policies impact vulnerable populations.

A key principle in Phase I of SA-TIED was that senior officials from government agencies should be paired with international experts from UNU-WIDER and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). This setup provided two notable benefits. First, it put the research programme in an ideal position to understand —and respond to— urgent knowledge gaps in key policy areas within the respective government departments. Second, it gave SA-TIED a unique entry point to disseminate research findings directly to the policymaker and support the creation of evidence-based policy actions.

The report A platform for evidence-based policy formulation: Lessons from SA-TIED provides a more detailed account of SA-TIED’s successes to date. A full catalogue of the impact of SA-TIED’s research can be found here.

What Phase II is about - How the project works

SA-TIED Phase II runs from 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2025. It will build on previous success and increase its relevance to the policymaking environment in South Africa. Phase II will carry forward the key principles that have made SA-TIED a success: collaboration and inclusivity across the entire operation, the centrality of the three programmatic pillars of research, capacity development, and policy-bridging, and commitment to the goal of a world-class research infrastructure around South Africa’s tax-administrative data.

SA-TIED TimelineWork streams

The SA-TIED programme is divided into six thematic work streams. Each work stream is jointly led by a researcher and a relevant figure in the South African government. This is to ensure that the work completed in these work streams has the greatest potential for impacting policy. Both the academic and policy leads are instrumental in developing the focus of their work streams. This collaborative design allows researchers to address the knowledge gaps most pertinent to policymakers, and therefore most likely to make a positive difference in the lives of southern Africans.

The six thematic areas focus on a number of research questions and topics designed to drive researchers to focus their attention on areas widely considered consequential to overcoming development hurdles, but which are not adequately understood.

The work streams for Phase II are:

All research outputs from Phase I have been migrated to this website, and are searchable in the Research tab, but to see the other outputs, including research and policy briefs, technical notes, and events, visit our Phase I website here.

Stay connected

If you’d like to stay updated on the latest research, events, publications, opportunities, and news regarding SA-TIED, subscribe to our newsletter. Also, bookmark the SA-TIED website, where virtual and in-person policy events, seminars, requests for research proposals, and other outputs from this exciting programme are regularly posted.


‘We are building partnerships to find solutions to the development challenges faced by South Africa and the region. We are upgrading the economic planning and coordinating capacity of the state. Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) is a programme with other government departments and international agencies to produce high-quality evidence-based policy research. Our aim is to improve the interface between cutting edge research and policy formulation.’ 
–South Africa’s Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, in Medium Term Budget Policy Speech on 24 October 2018

‘Economic reforms, as set out in South Africa’s economic recovery and reconstruction plan, are a crucial way to deliver that inclusive economic growth to all citizens here in South Africa, and I believe that this next phase of this programme can be a part of making those ambitions a reality.’
Antony Phillipson, High Commissioner of the UK to South Africa

‘Creating knowledge, sharing knowledge, and strengthening knowledge is very much our mandate and mission. SA-TIED absolutely reflects that, which is why it has a lot of value for me as Director of UNU-WIDER that we are doing something that is in-line with our mission but also on the ground in South Africa. We achieved a lot in Phase I, which means that we’ve set a very high bar for Phase II.’
Kunal Sen, Director, UNU-WIDER

"European Union is delighted to continue to support the Southern Africa – Towards Inclusive Economic Development programme with an additional contribution of €2 million. This collaboration between the European Union and South Africa speaks of our shared and strong commitment to advancing evidence-based policy- and decision-making. Partnerships are critical in building climate-resilient infrastructure for South Africa", H.E Sandra Kramer, European Union’s Ambassador to South Africa