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African Parliamentary Researchers Seek the Establishment of a Regional Association

Parliamentary Researchers from across the continent are now seeking higher recognition of their duties in driving the Legislative process, calling for deliberate entrenchment of the Legislative Research Departments across African Parliaments. This is part of the resolutions that were adopted at the close of the four-day Inaugural Africa Parliamentary Researcher’s Conference in Nairobi, last evening. The researchers further resolved to institutionalize their resolutions by forming an association whose leadership will provide a way forward, in the interim.

The conference, which brought together representatives from thirteen African Parliaments and resources persons from research organizations across the world, resolved to form the African Parliamentary Researcher’s Association (APRA), a body that will be led by a Governing Council and a Steering Committee whose memberships will be drawn from the Member States.

The Association, once fully established, is expected to steer the agenda of proper institutionalization of Research Departments within African parliaments, to help address the various challenges identified during the conference’s deliberations, among them Inadequate financial investment as well as institutional and technical capacities.

In seeking better appreciation of their services across all African jurisdictions, the Researchers have recommended the development of basic principles to guide and standardize the operationalization of Research services in legislatures, as well as advocate for investment of additional resources to support evidence structures and mechanisms that will facilitate the institutionalization of Legislative Research Directorates.

These concerns were echoed by Nominated Senator, (Dr.) Agnes Zani, who represented the Senate Speaker Hon. Kenneth Lusaka, during the closing ceremony of the conference. She commended the organizers for a successful conference, and noted that objective of the forum to provide a platform for mutual learning, establishment of beneficial partnerships for sharing best practices; capacity development and for the promotion of evidence-informed policies and legislations, had indeed been realized.

Senator (Dr.) Zani, who has been a researcher for over 30 years, underscored the importance of researchers in Parliaments, noting that research is the backbone of legislators, and that the legislatures critically depend on proper research work to carry out their mandates efficiently. She noted the timeliness of the conference, and lauded the proposals to introduce the use of advanced technology in parliamentary research work as a means to strengthening capacity and building networks, emphasizing that this will greatly improve the output of research in parliaments.

On his part, the Speaker Lusaka in a speech read on his behalf by Dr. Zani, endorsed the proposal to form the African Parliamentary Researchers’ Association, saying it was a bold move that was bound to be a great success.

“Given the positive response and commitment, quality of presentations and vibrant deliberations demonstrated at this inaugural forum, the envisioned establishment of the Association of Africa Parliamentary Researchers will be a reality.” Stated Speaker Lusaka.

He further lauded the forum for organizing the first ever conference for legislative researchers noting that the conference had given research officers the impetus to carry out their work with great zeal.

“I have no doubt that distinguished delegates depart from the Conference more empowered, emboldened and with the zeal to drive the legislative research agenda in the greater effort to increase interest and use of evidence in legislative decision making processes “ said the speaker.

 During the various presentations throughout the conference, researchers were urged to develop and adopt innovative initiatives and modern tools including but not limited to social media, and Geographical Information System (GIS) to enrich and facilitate information and evidence access and flow. Collaborations among legislatures as well as with national and international research bodies was also emphasized. The four day conference, the first of its kind in the continent came to a close last evening.