Call for Papers:  The Vision Thing: workshop on African national development strategies

Call for Papers: The Vision Thing: workshop on African national development strategies

This is a call for expressions of interest in attending and/or presenting at a workshop on African national development planning to be held on 7th July 2017, Camden, London. The aim of the workshop is to build a network for a collaborative research bid into vision strategies for African national development.


A Vision Thing

Since the late 1990s over thirty African governments have published national ‘Vision’ statements setting out long term, political, economic and social development goals (e.g. Kenya Vision 2030; Rwanda Vision 2020; Namibia Vision 2030; South Africa NDP: Vision 2030). Around 25 of some 35 existing vision strategies date from after 2000.

Some vision strategies have been assessed within studies of particular countries’ development policies and are sometimes referenced in official aid documentation. However, African vision documents haven’t been studied as a phenomenon in themselves. Vision documents are presented by governments as important statements of developmental intent, though they vary widely in how well developed they are and how far they have been institutionalised within governance structures. Knowledge of their content, the process by which they were formulated, their effectiveness in guiding policy, and whether they increase policy autonomy in relation to international aid donors are all important aspects requiring research. Moreover, their impact relates to broader debates on development policies, developmental statism in Africa, developmental diversity, African agency and relations with donor institutions. The fact that development planning takes this form, and has spread across the continent, is also of interest to wider literatures on policy emulation/diffusion and on the symbolic role of ‘future visioning’. Better understanding of this ‘future visioning’ approach to development policy, and its substantive content, will be a valuable addition to knowledge of contemporary policy and policy diversity in Africa and of interactions between African states and donors.


The workshop

This workshop aims to bring together scholars interested in developing research in this area. It will combine knowledge-sharing on existing research into vision strategies (including presentations on the origins and spread of vision strategies across the continent as well as on particular country vision strategies) with discussion and planning of a collaborative research bid. It will aim to develop the intellectual background for an external funding bid as well as being a crucial step in forming collaborative research partnerships.


Expressions of interest

Please let us know by Friday 5th May 2017 if you would like to participate in this workshop by sending us a short (c.200 word) summary of your contribution/area of interest. We are looking for work that relates to the following areas, among others:

  • Future development visioning in Africa
  • Developmentalism in Africa
  • Policy emulation/learning/influence
  • Agency and national development
  • National cases of development planning/strategy
  • Regional/continental planning
  • Relations with external donors/actors


We have some funding for travel expenses for academics (UK, continental Europe and Africa) and for post-graduate participation. Funding is from the BISA Africa and International Studies Working Group and from The Open University’s Strategic Research Area in International Development and Inclusive Innovation.


The workshop will be held at the newly refurbished Open University centre in Camden, London.


Organisers: William Brown (The Open University; and Stephen Hurt (Oxford Brookes University;

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