The Center for African Development (CAD) conducts policy-relevant research on mobile technology and development; governance and state-building; and armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa.
Led by Dr. Philip Roessler, assistant professor of Government at William & Mary, CAD employs scientific analysis and field-based research to advance key academic and policy debates.
CAD provides students with the opportunity to deepen their understanding of African politics, societies and development through direct interactions with African communities and leaders. W&M students are engaged as research collaborators both in Williamsburg and in Liberia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Mobile Phone Ownership and Women’s Empowerment
Through the first-of-its-kind field experiment on mobile phone ownership, CAD researchers are studying the effect of mobile technology on women’s empowerment in developing countries with an initial focus on Tanzania. Results from phase 1 demonstrated that phone ownership increased beneficiaries’ mobile connectivity, use of mobile money, and led to improvements in their access to market information, overall business operations, and their subjective welfare.
Phase 3, planned for 2016, will involve roughly 2,000 women and will analyze the effects of the cost-free distribution of basic mobile phones, smartphones, data plans, and solar electrical chargers on the uptake of digital financial services and on women’s welfare. Each summer since 2014, a group of W&M undergraduates has traveled to Tanzania to work with CAD’s in-country partners and help implement the multi-phase research study.
Each summer since 2014, a group of W&M undergraduates has traveled to Tanzania to work with CAD’s in-country partners and help implement the multi-phase research study which will ultimately put mobile technology into the hands of more than 2,500 women.
Drawing on extensive field research across the region, CAD Director, Philip Roessler, has written two pathbreaking books on the scourge of civil war. Why Comrades Go to War: Liberation Politics and the Outbreak of Africa’s Deadliest Conflict (featured right) with Harry Verhoeven draws on hundreds of interviews in Central Africa to account for the cause of Africa’s Great War that erupted in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998.
Governance & State Building
Through the geospatial analysis of colonial-era country atlases overlaid with contemporary development indicators on access to electricity, infant mortality and household wealth, CAD researchers are shedding new light on the historical origins and long-run consequences of regional inequality in Africa—one of the key sources of state failure in the region.