Connecting African Researchers to Address Local Supply Chain Challenges

On Feb. 8-9, CARISCA convened a “think tank” of leading young scholars from across Africa to accelerate research on supply networks. The 21 academics from seven nations formed groups to address six critical research topics for future publication.

Alfred Salwa (Mzumbe University, Tanzania), Bonny Bagenda (Makerere University, Uganda), Assilah Agigi (University of Pretoria, South Africa) and Mona Ali (German University in Cairo, Egypt) present their research theme to participants at the Africa Supply Network Research Accelerator (ASN-RA) meeting.

CARISCA is committed to strengthening the capacity of African researchers, fostering networks, and promoting research addressing local challenges and producing locally relevant solutions.

On Feb. 8-9, CARISCA hosted its inaugural Africa Supply Network Research Accelerator (ASN-RA) meeting. The meeting was inspired by Arizona State University’s Complex Adaptive Supply Networks Research Accelerator (CASN-RA), which involves 140 scholars from 25 U.S. states and 18 countries.

Both events act as research accelerators by creating opportunities for scholars interested in supply networks to forge new teams to pursue interesting and challenging research projects. To date, CASN-RA teams have published at least 30 papers in some of the fields’ top journals.

“I think of ASN-RA as a think tank of young leading researchers in Africa that will push the leading edge of thinking in our field,” says Thomas Choi, CASN-RA co-director and CARISCA senior technical advisor. 

Held in Accra, Ghana, the ASN-RA meeting brought together 21 scholars from seven African nations. The meeting’s objective was to refine research ideas into prominent topics and facilitate the development of manuscripts, articles and research proposals.

“I consider this group as the ones who will shape the future of research and teaching in African higher education,” added Choi. 

The two-day meeting featured brainstorming sessions, breakout discussions and presentations. These provided a platform for scholars to connect, share knowledge and collaborate on supply chain issues specific to Africa.

“We have put this network together for African scholars to be able to look at local issues, local problems, and bring rigorous research into solving these problems,” says Adegoke Oke, a CARISCA senior technical advisor who co-led the meeting with Choi.

Following brainstorming sessions, six teams formed to work on research projects for future publication.

“We came up with several research ideas and believe that a lot of issues in the supply chain, especially in the context of Africa, are going to be addressed,” said participant Usman Abbas, a lecturer at Kaduna State University in Nigeria. 

The six research topics are: 

  • Family financing’s role in African supply chains
  • Legacy systems and child labor
  • Regulatory and institutional influences on horizontal trade
  • Scalability in African supply chain relationships
  • SME supply culture and resistance to development
  • The informal sector’s role in omnichannel distribution

“The intention is to hold this meeting every two years,” says Oke. “We look forward to building the capacity of African researchers through this research network.”

The next ASN-RA meeting is planned for 2026. In the meantime, participants will meet periodically in teams to work on publishing on the research topics in top-ranking journals.

“I enjoyed the workshop and the insights from the African continent,” said participant Mona Ali, an assistant professor at The German University of Cairo. “It is really interesting to get to know and work with each other.”

After the ASN-RA meeting, Choi, author of the book “The Nature of Supply Networks,” spent a week at KNUST. During his scientific visit, he engaged with faculty and students from the KNUST School of Business in a workshop centered on his book.

Watch a video on the ASN-RA meeting:

Participants in the Africa Supply Network Research Accelerator meeting
Researchers from seven African countries, along with CARISCA staff and faculty, convene for the inaugural Africa Supply Network Research Accelerator meeting