The collaborative research modality is designed to bring senior African and non-African researchers together to conduct research on issues of interest so as to produce a critical mass of research having policy and academic relevance to sub-Saharan Africa. The collaborative component has thus allowed the Consortium to advance from a strictly capacity building research network into a leading African research forum. By helping the Consortium to retain senior African scholars in the network, the projects serve to exploit past investments in capacity building and enhance the role of thematic research.
Collaborative projects also build links between AERC researchers and the policy community. They sharpen the Consortium’s development value through their emphasis on topical policy-relevant issues, involvement of researchers in policy dialogue on Africa's development, and outreach to bring the research results to a wide audience. Over the years, they have also offered a way to respond to the evolving policy needs of the region by progressively broadening the research focus beyond macroeconomic stabilization. Collaborative projects forge partnerships that enable effective outreach to researchers in under-represented regions; and enhance the skills of mid-career African scholars.