Operations Research & Public Policy for Africa: Harnessing the Revolution in Management Science Instruction

Date of Original Version



Working Paper

Abstract or Description

Operations research (OR) has made major contributions in the developed world to public policy domains that are of great relevance to Africa. Inasmuch as OR has failed to live up to its potential for addressing such issues in Africa, a principal barrier may have been distance between OR analysts and decision makers. However, the revolution in management science instruction and potential to train end user modelers has democratized OR. This makes training for policy makers and mangers in the public and non-profit sectors in Africa both feasible and highly beneficial. Existing Management Science courses for public and non-profit leaders, such as those that taught at Carnegie Mellon, could be adapted to fit the needs of educators and policy makers in Africa and disseminated via a “train the trainers” approach. A plan is sketched whereby 800,000 end-user modelers might be trained in Africa (1 for every 1,000 people) at an annual cost of about $5M per year. Such budgets are well within the range of investments in human capital formation currently being made in Africa.