Regional growth
Request for research proposals

on regional growth and development for Southern Africa's prosperity

June 2019


United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) is implementing, together with its partners over the period 2017–20, a research programme entitled Southern Africa – Toward Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED) with the aim of enhancing economic research, capacity-building, and policy dialogue in Southern Africa. This request is for research proposals relevant to South Africa’s role in the larger regional economy of Southern Africa.

As Southern Africa’s largest economy, South Africa’s national economic policy decisions often have regional repercussions. This area of research is designed to enhance our understanding of the South African economy within the larger Southern Africa regional context. It consists of five focus areas (set out in Appendix A): (i) South Africa, SADC and Beyond; (ii) South Africa as a Regional Investor; (iii) the Spatial Economy of Southern Africa; (iv) the Political Economy of Regional Growth; and (v) Strengthening Regional Value Chains. An important aspect of the research design is to encourage systematic integration of political economy perspectives under each focus area.

While submissions of research proposals in any of the above five focus areas are welcome, the organizers are particularly interested in receiving proposals for research on focus area (iii) the Spatial Economy of Southern Africa. Proposals for comparative, country-level research on the different approaches, implementation experiences, and outcomes — positive and negative — of industrial development zones (IDZs), special economic zones (SEZs) and/or export processing zones (EPZs) in Southern Africa would be especially welcome.


UNU-WIDER, the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), and Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS) invite proposals from qualified researchers for high-quality economic and/or political economy analysis in any of the five focus areas set out in the Background section above. Key research and policy questions in each of the five focus areas are given in Annex A to this request for research proposals (RFRP).

The objectives of this RFRP are to:

  1. Provide an opportunity for researchers to conduct policy-relevant research on topics of relevance to South Africa’s role in the larger Southern African regional economy.
  2. Facilitate policy dialogue through engaging with researchers on policy-relevant issues and ensuring that the research findings are communicated effectively to stakeholders — including the academic community, policy makers, and civil society via policy summaries and dialogue.

Proposals from individuals, groups of individuals, as well as non-profit organizations are welcome. Researchers can be based in Southern Africa or internationally and can combine researchers from different countries and institutions. Special consideration will be given to Southern African research teams that include junior and early-career researchers, as well as researchers from previously disadvantaged groups.

What is expected of researchers

All successful applicants will be expected to:

  1. Produce a relevant research paper of sufficient quality to merit publication in the WIDER Working Paper Series. Earlier papers that can give a sense of which topics have previously been explored can be found here.
  2. Sign agreements.
  3. Attend a 1–1.5-day workshop in South Africa (venue tbd) where work in progress will be presented to other contracted consultants, researchers, and to selected international experts.
  4. Prepare a policy summary that brings together the key findings from the research paper and the key policy lessons. A key focus will be on specific policy-relevant recommendations that can be taken forward through a further phase of work.
  5. Participate in a workshop/policy dialogue after completion of the final paper to communicate the policy implications and lessons from the research.


22 June 2019

Final opportunity for questions on the request for research proposals

Now extended to 21 July (7 July2019)

Proposals due

02 August 2019

Target date for informing on final decisions

16 August 2019

Target date for completion of necessary administrative procedures

29 November 2019

Target window for submission of first draft of papers and work-in

progress workshop

29 February 2020

Submission of final paper

Proposal submission details

  1. The submission of proposals is done electronically using a form on the RFRP announcement page. There are three forms to select from; one for individuals, another for groups of individuals, and a third for NGOs. Details (such as address, gender, nationality, date of birth) of all researchers involved are required to be entered into the form. Uploads of the proposal document and brief CVs (two pages or less) of the researcher(s) are also required. Applicants should familiarize themselves with the form in advance.
  2. The technical proposal should be no more than five pages of A4 paper in length excluding cover page and references, using 12-point font, 1.5 line spacing, and standard margins. The cover page should contain the complete contact information of researcher(s) and a 200-word proposal abstract, which should summarize the research question, main methods, data, and expected contribution to the policy debate.
  3. Submission of a budget is not required for the proposal.
  4. Any questions on the proposal process should be sent to researchproposal4@wider. by 22 June 2019. All queries and responses will be published on the RFRP announcement page after this date.

PDF icon Request for research proposals — Regional growth and development for Southern Africa's prosperity.pdf