By George Achia

Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, Director of Procol – Kenya speaking at the launch

A new research programme that seeks to redefine what constitutes and chart ways for prosperity in Africa was recently launched in Nairobi, Kenya.

Known as Prosperity Co-Lab (Procol) Kenya, the research programme was set up to change the discussion on how economic development and prosperity has been viewed by different development agencies over the years.

The programme is rooting for alternative approaches for development in Africa by building new forms of knowledge that create value for the local communities.

“Our understanding of prosperity is changing. This is because the widespread persistence of poverty coupled with other challenges such as environmental degradation have demonstrated both the limits to conventional thinking and the urgency for devising alternative pathways to prosperity, says Prof. Henrietta Moore, the director of the Institute for Global Prosperity at the University College London.

The Institute for Global Prosperity is the brain behind Procol Kenya.

The research programme is premised on the agenda 2030, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and 5Ps for People, Prosperity, Planet, Peace and Partnership.

Over the years economic development has been pegged on industrialisation and GDP oriented economic growth which have been seen as the only way to improve the standard of living.

Yet, environmental degradation, pressure on resources and widespread poverty in Africa have demonstrated not only the shortcomings of United Nation’s SDG approach globally, but have also made it evident that it is fundamentally unsustainable and cannot deliver well-being for citizens and communities around the world.

According to Prof. Henrietta, Procol Kenya borrows Prosperity and Partnership from the UN’s 5 Ps to deliver its vision of working with local communities and different stakeholders to redefine and deliver new forms of Prosperity in Kenya.

“Our research is designed with partners in Kenya such as the County governments, entrepreneurs, national government, universities and harness cutting edge science, data analysis, community knowledge to develop smarter, localised understanding of prosperity that can be tailored to different communities across Africa,”said Prof. Henrietta during the launch in a hotel in Nairobi.

She added that given new challenges facing Africa such as climate change and urbanisation due to rise in the global population, there is need to embrace new ideas and visions encompassing natural prosperity to create communities that are sustainable and resilient.

According to her, Natural Prosperity is a measure of the interdependence between well-being, wealth and nature, based on the premise that a well-functioning, world lies at the core of sustaining and improving global and local prosperity and building regenerative economies.

Procol Kenya, domiciled at Strathmore University in Nairobi, will undertake research, run Prosperity events and engage in community programmes across Kenya. In addition, the Programme will run the Prosperity Index that is meant to gauge and harness the quality of life among the local communities.

Alongside Procol Kenya, the Institute for Global Prosperity is also running Prosperity Co-Labs in Tanzania, while in Lebanon and London the Prosperity Index has already been rolled out.

“We can’t solve problems using the same kind thinking we used to when we created them,”Prof. Jacqueline McGlade, director of Procol – Kenya posed.

Speaking at the same event, Prof. McGlade wondered why there has been stagnant growth in Kenya and Africa at large, a situation she attributes to unequal distribution of wealth among the local communities.

“We are working through experimentation approach to drive solutions to local communities, Prof. McGlade emphasized.  

So far, Procol Kenya has been able to bring together critical players and creating partnerships in Kenya with Counties such as Vihiga and Elgeyo Marakwet to drive structural development and people-led initiatives from the grass root levels.  She faulted the world’s big institutions such as the World Bank, Africa Development Bank for not helping contribute to structural development in Africa. Procol Kenya employs community-oriented research approach to understand what prosperity means within the local context.