ERSA is a National Funded programme designed to both broaden the scope of economic research in South Africa, and to deepen its quality in order to ensure greater international exposure of economic research conducted in Southern Africa.
Toward this end ERSA publishes a Working Paper series, provides financial incentives to researchers to publish their papers in peer reviewed scholarly journals, run Workshop programmes in 5 core research areas, and provides extensive support to graduate students in economics in Southern Africa.
In line with the recommendations of the five year external review of ERSA which submitted its recommendations in November 2009, ERSA was registered as a Section 21 Company on 23 June 2010. As such, ERSA is no longer reliant on support from any university structures.
Section 21 company status required the development of independent systems of financial control and governance, as well as the development of logistical and financial systems for service delivery under the various ERSA programmes.
While there have been start-up and transition costs involved in the move to independence, the net effect has been an improvement in the efficiency of service delivery, and considerably improved oversight and management of financial processes in particular. In addition overhead costs have been able to be reduced substantially.
For the Working and Policy Paper series of ERSA, the number of published Working Papers has now risen to 217, while 20 Policy Papers and 1 Occasional Paper has been published. The coverage of the papers remains broad, with publications appearing in 17 of the 20 feasible specialization categories that the Journal of Economic Literature recognizes.
Publications in peer reviewed journals associated with the ERSA paper series also continues to rise steadily. The number of published papers has now risen to 89, of which 49 have appeared in international journals, and 40 in South African journals.
Figure 1: Distribution of Published Articles by ISI ranking
Workshop activity continues across research groups. During 2010- 2011, workshops were held, and attendance at the workshops continues to represent a diverse representation of national institutions and demographics. A total of more than 80 institutions have been represented at ERSA workshops from the inception of the programme.
Under the ERSA scholarship scheme, 20 scholarships have been awarded to date, 17 for Masters, and 03 for PhD study. Of these, a total of 2 Masters students, and 1 of the PhD students have completed their degrees.
The administrative staff of ERSA have provided close and diligent support to the ERSA programmes, in a year in which a considerable additional burden from the transition to Section 21 Company status for ERSA was placed on them. My sincere thanks to them for their efficiency and dedication in performing their work.
Similarly, the contributions of both group convenors and the members of the editorial committee of ERSA, who provide substantial inputs of time to ensure the smooth functioning of the paper and workshop series of ERSA require the strongest possible recognition, as well as the thanks of the economics community in South Africa who benefit from their continuing efforts.
Finally, the continuing financial support from the National Treasury, which has provided long term funding to the ERSA initiative, deserves