In July 2003 when Prof. Charles C. Soludo joined the federal government of Nigeria, Prof. Eric C. Eboh was appointed the Executive Director and he retired from the position in August 2012. Dr. Ifediora Amobi was appointed as the Executive Director in August 2012 and he retired from the position in December 2015. Prof. Ufo Okeke-Uzodike who is currently the Executive Director, was appointed in August 2016.
In November 2012, the African Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE) was renamed African Heritage Institution with the acronym AfriHeritage. The change in name was to reflect both a deepened philosophical underpinning as well as the broadened scope of activities beyond applied economics. Africa is the cradle of human civilization but for centuries it has largely been in darkness. The 21st Century has seen dramatic ‘Africa awakening’, with our firm belief that this will be Africa’s century. Fortuitously, AfriHeritage was founded at the turn of the century, with a mission to think Africa through the emerging renaissance to rediscover, redefine and mainstream the African heritage and civilization. While the focus on applied economics remains at the core of its programmes, recent experiences around Africa and the world have shown that economic prosperity is not sustainable unless we simultaneously get the politics, governance, and environmental issues also right. Thus, the scope of its programmes has been broadened to include politics and governance, Strategic Studies, and Environment.
The Institution was the brainchild of Competitiveness Working Groups Initiative– later renamed as Better Business Initiative (BBI) and it was the major driver of the State Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS) benchmarking projects, 2005; 2006. It has also participated in the major national surveys and still involves in client-based national and international studies and consultancies across its thematic research areas. In the bid to engender institutional self-reflection, influence longer-term outlook and promote strategic organisational development, the then landmark AIAE 5-year Strategic Plan 2009-2013, codenamed “Project Leading-Edge” was developed and launched in 2009. As the first-ever Strategic Plan, Project Leading Edge embodies the Institution’s niche goals, policy thrusts and programmatic priorities from 2009-2013. It was aimed at enhancing the Institute’s competitive edge in the African economic research communities. It was produced through a pain-staking participatory planning process involving all the Institute’s stakeholders. The Plan articulates AfriHeritage’s purposes, objects and targets in its thematic research areas and proposes strategies and tools for enhancing its competitive edge, organisational development and operational effectiveness. It serves as an operational template for consolidating upon the achievements and progress of the Institute since its inception.
One vivid footprint of AfriHeritage’s policy influence is the South-East Nigeria Economic Commission (SENEC). SENEC is perhaps the most outstanding legacy of the Institution in the economic policy landscape of South-East Nigeria, where the Institute is located. The concept of SENEC emanated from a Stakeholders’ Forum on “The State of Industrial Clusters in South-Eastern Nigeria”, organized by the Institute, on 26th September 2006 in Enugu. Based on the communiqué of the Forum, African Heritage Institution set up the Interim Steering Committee to facilitate the establishment of south-east economic commission. The Committee draws members from the cross section of stakeholders including government officials, private sector persons, academia, professionals and leaders of civic organizations.
The Steering Committee then established four subcommittees as follows: study subcommittee, sensitization and publicity subcommittee, consultation subcommittee and legal and institutional framework subcommittee. Following critical study of alternative models, international experiences and inputs from a variety of sources, the study subcommittee developed the base document “Memorandum for the Establishment of South East Nigeria Economic Commission 2007 to 2008”.
Also, in order to enlarge the Institution’s influence on national policy agenda and public debate, the Institution constituted and inaugurated the Policy Think Group (PTG) on 29 January 2010. The PTG serves as potent vehicle for articulating and transmitting research inputs into policymaking in a rapid manner. As a think-pot, the PTG brainstorms on topical and on-the-spot policy questions and processes to produce informed standpoints for use by stakeholders, including government officials, NGOs mass media and the private sector.
Till date, the Institution has serially published Research Papers, Policy Papers, Policy Briefs, Macroeconomic Forecast Series, Newsletters and others. African Heritage Institution has a robust monitoring and evaluation system as an element of the organisational strategy to improve research outputs, research dissemination/communication and research uptake by policymakers and other stakeholders.