Africa Sustainability Hub – background

Africa hub logoThe Africa Sustainability Hub was launched on 10 June 2015 by the Kenyan minister for Finance during a Low Carbon Development Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya.

The hub’s main focus is to support social research and capabilities of African researchers, policy makers and change makers to understand and solve some of the underlying social issues affecting the achievement the post-2015 SDGs.

The hub is established on a mutual partnership between Africa and UK leading research and policy think tanks on sustainability: the African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS), the STEPS Centre at the University of Sussex, the Africa Centre of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS). The Africa Hub aims to utilize this North-South and South-South leaning opportunities to pursue, in a participatory manner, socially inclusive evidence on various sustainability pathways, something new and unique from the way much of the social research and policy/practice has been pursued.

Specifically, the hub aims to showcase a model of transformative partnership that harnesses research and policy on the kinds of sustainable technologies and innovations which could inform Africa’s actions in the post-2015 SDGs. In a crowded global research environment, the hub is a platform of international, trans-disciplinary action-oriented work with a strong focus on practical responses – including the development of new concepts, tools and methods.


Specifically, the hub will seek to generate evidence and inform SD policies/practice in various African contexts guided by a set of questions:

(1) How do different stakeholders – including local communities, farmers, policy makers, extension officers, and research and development agencies – frame and justify emerging technological schemes and where do synergies between various understandings exist?

(2) How can emerging clean energy and agricultural technologies be made more coherent with underlying socio-cultural and policy issues of Africa?

(3) What technologies have worked effectively in various contexts, how and for whom? And how can successful lessons be assimilated into policies and other contexts?  What is the underlying political economy of technologies and what are the appropriate capabilities required to improve Africa’s performance in the post-2015 SD goals?

Ongoing projects

Currently the hub’s work focuses on transformative action research that generates evidence on the underlying socio-technical challenges to sustainability in Africa and capacity building that enhances skills and capabilities to address the challenges.

Research theme I: Pathways to pro-poor energy access

This theme aims to identify, analyze and present evidence on various social and technical options for enhancing access to clean energy especially for the poor segment of the society. The theme is particularly interested in the socio-technical interactions of various energy options in including solar, wind, and biomass in various socio-ecological circumstances of the poor in various parts of Africa.

Research theme II: Pathways to agricultural transformations 

This research theme aims to identify, analyze and present evidence on various social and technical options for robust and resilient agricultural practices and policies in various parts of Africa. The theme particularly targets to test and present how emerging agricultural transformation agendas such as the green revolution interact with social context of Africa.

Research theme III: Transforming environmental governance

This research theme aims to identify, analyze and present evidence on the enablers of suitable and inclusive governance framework for environmental resources including land, water and forests.  The theme is particularly interested in the understanding the politics behind governance of these resources and to use this understanding to propose more inclusive governance framework for the three resources.

Capacity building

The Hub also convenes targeted capacity building initiatives aimed at establishing capabilities and skills for tackling underlying sustainability challenges facing Africa. The hub’s capacity building work combines a range of strategies including short courses, learning platforms, expert platforms, summer schools targeted at both policy makers and young researchers.

Activities include:

  • Annual short courses training on climate finance, innovation systems and transparency
  • Involvement in the STEPS Annual Summer School on Pathways to Sustainability
  • Research Bursaries for PhD and post-docs, linked to specific projects
  • Use of knowledge exchange platforms
  • Expert database (under construction)

To find out more about the hub and its projects, see the Africa Sustainability Hub page.