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2018 Africa Think Tank Summit: Communique

10 Apr, 2018


1. We, the African think tanks and delegates to the Fifth Africa Think Tank Summit, have met in Accra, Ghana, on 5-7 April 2018. As we conclude our 2018 Summit on the theme “Tackling Africa’s Youth Unemployment Challenge: Innovative Solutions from Think Tanks”, we would like to express our deepest and sincere appreciation to the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) for organizing this Summit in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Ghana, the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ReNAPRI) and the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP). 

2. We congratulate the African Capacity Building Foundation for being designated the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development. This is clear recognition of the close to three decades of admirable work not just in creating and supporting think tanks on the continent but supporting the human and institutional capacity needs for implementing continental, regional and national development frameworks. 

3. We commend the commitment of the African Union in supporting and recognizing efforts by Africa Think Tanks towards evidence-based policies and development programmes on the continent and around job creation for the youth in particular. High-level representation of the African Union Commission at the Summit as evidenced by presence of the Commissioner for Economic Affairs and the Acting Director for Human Resources, Science and Technology is hence highly applauded. 

4. We note the importance for African countries and their governments to trust, consult and utilize think tanks within the continent as they have the required expertise and experience to support the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of home-grown relevant policies for Africa’s socio-economic transformation – within Agenda 2063, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and national development plans. 

5. We also note that African think tanks would play a critical role in supporting African countries tackle youth unemployment through their support to evidence-based policy design, implementation and monitoring, their capacity development activities for state and non-state actors, and their provision of platforms for stakeholder engagement and dialogue and advocacy. 

6. We recognize the sustainability issues faced by African think tanks and welcome the expressed commitment of African governments, development partners, and key continental stakeholders to continue supporting the Africa Think Tank Summits and the work of think tanks generally through the Africa Think Tank Network (ATTN). 

African think tanks and contribution to tackling youth unemployment challenges 

7. We reiterate our deep concern about Africa’s youth unemployment challenges and the resulting pressures on migration to other continents for economic opportunities along with the disastrous consequences including loss of lives of young Africans. 

8. We recognize that think tanks have a key role to play to support the fight against youth unemployment, which can largely succeed if underpinned by, among other factors, a conducive policy environment and transformative leadership in both state and non-state sectors. 

9. We commit to continue providing advice on the policy options and innovative solutions available to successfully tackle youth unemployment using knowledge and networking while expanding our outreach to policy actors and making our research in the area accessible. 

10. We recognize that the limited impact of youth employment programs in many African countries, is explained in part by the lack of rigorous evidence-based design and implementation exacerbated by lack of accurate data and statistics and weak implementation capacity. 

11. We therefore reaffirm our commitment to provide research-based evidence and data to governments, law-makers, the private sector, and civil society organizations for sound decision-making while supporting the production of adequate statistics on youth employment and related issues. 

12. We do recommend that think tanks be supported in conducting strategic studies around the human and institutional capacity gaps facing the continent and share good practices on how to address them especially regarding the development and effective implementation of youth employment and youth entrepreneurship policies on the continent. 

13. We encourage African governments and key stakeholders to work with African think tanks and capacity building institutions to support the expansion of Africa’s critical skills in science, technology and innovation as well as develop home-grown youth policies and interventions for Africa’s sustainable development. 

14. Recognizing that the fight against youth unemployment in Africa requires transformative leadership and the provision of an African solution, we call upon all African governments to work with think tanks to design and support interventions aimed at developing the institutional and human capacities for a transformative leadership (including business, youth, women, civil society and traditional leadership). 

Critical technical skills and private sector development for youth employment opportunities 

15. Acknowledging that Africa is well-endowed with natural resources, we urge African countries to develop systematic programs of training that ensure skills development in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, contributing to more jobs for the youth while contributing to Africa’s transformation agenda. 

16. In that vein, we commit to work with Africa’s continental bodies, regional economic communities, governments and all stakeholders to support technical skills development, especially for girls and women, and contribute in ensuring that the education our young people receive equips them with the critical skills they need for employment and transformation of the continent. 

17. Further, we also recommend African countries to specifically ensure that agriculture becomes an attractive venture for the youth, not only by addressing agriculture’s not-so-attractive image to the youth and fostering its modernization but also tackling issues related to lack of access to land, capital, markets, information, technology, and farming inputs. 

18. We are therefore committed to work with African governments, in close cooperation with the private sector, to identify possible entry-points and opportunities for self-employment and employment particularly for educated and non-educated youth, women and vulnerable segments of the population. 

19. We propose documentation of the Africa-wide experiences, innovative solutions and lessons learned on youth unemployment challenges and strategies. As proposed in the research agenda, this needs to be undertaken by think tanks under the coordination of ACBF. Such study should subsequently inform development of capacity building interventions and policies aimed at sustainably tackling youth unemployment in Africa. 

Moving forward 

20. We, think tanks and delegates, note that the 2018 Africa Think Tank Summit provided a unique opportunity for open and comprehensive discussions on a wide range of critical issues in Africa, key among them are youth unemployment challenges and the role of think tanks, which will facilitate the development of mutually agreed solutions. 

21. We are committed to support and contribute to the design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and mentorship/coaching programs targeted at solving Africa’s problems – and thereafter, tackling youth unemployment. 

22. We support the proposal of undertaking an Africa-wide study on the experience, innovative solutions and lessons learned on youth unemployment challenges, in specific sectors such as agriculture, to complement existing studies and to ensure coordinated and effective future capacity building efforts. The basis of which study should be a capacity development program on youth employment in Africa. 

23. We call upon ACBF, as the specialized Agency of the African Union for capacity development, to coordinate documentation of the Africa-wide experiences, innovative solutions and lessons learned on youth unemployment challenges and to subsequently coordinate the development of a program on harnessing youth employment opportunities on the continent, building on the findings.   

24. We further call for continued support to ACBF and other supporters of think tanks to enable them create new think tanks where needed, strengthen the capacities of existing ones and ensure that platforms such as the Africa Think Tank Summits are convened, and networks such as the Africa Think Tank Network are sustained while the recommendations of the Summits are brought to the attention of the African Union Head of State Meetings.

25. We, Summit participants, express our gratitude to the Government of Ghana and its leadership for the support provided to ACBF and its partners in successfully organizing the Summit.


For more information, please contact:

Tsitsi Chakonza 
The African Capacity Building Foundation
Harare, Zimbabwe
+263-4 304663, 304622, 332002, 332014; Ext. 273

ABOUT the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)

Having spearheaded and robustly coordinated capacity development programs worth over 700 million US dollars across 45 countries and 8 regional economic communities (RECs) in Africa since 1991, ACBF has gathered the requisite experience that makes it the go-to institution for expert knowledge and human resources to advise and support African countries, regional economic communities and institutions on decisive steps to take to develop the practical skills urgently required for the continent’s economic transformation.

Evidence from our cutting-edge work (constituting hundreds of knowledge publications) and the work of several partners show that Africa's development efforts are being hobbled by severe capacity deficits often in the form of shortage of critical skills, deficits in leadership, inhibiting mindsets and weak institutions. The continent’s practical skills shortage is acute in key areas such as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Agriculture.

At ACBF, we will continue using our unmatched track record in managing financial facilities for development, our vast knowledge gathering experience thanks to the exceptional skills mix of our core staff as well as our strong strategic partnerships and networks to help countries and institutions identify their capacity needs, advise them on how to plug these capacity weaknesses and on where to find the knowledge and resources to develop the requisite capacity resources, effectively use them and retain them to achieve their short and long-term development objectives.

ACBF’s vision is an Africa capable of achieving its own development.

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Thomas Kwesi Quartey

ACBF has been granted the status of a specialized agency because of the potential to transform Africa through capacity development.

H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, AU Commission
Erastus Mwencha

The recognition of ACBF as the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development launches the beginning of a new era for capacity building by ACBF, which will require an appropriate level of political commitment and financial support from all stakeholders.

H.E. Erastus Mwencha, Chair, ACBF Executive Board
Lamin Momodou

The remarkable achievements ACBF has registered over the past 26 years is not by accident in our opinion. They have come through hard work, dedication, commitment, purposeful leadership, support from the member countries as well as productive partnership building.

Mr. Lamin Momodou MANNEH, Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa
Goodall Gondwe

Africa needs ACBF as much, probably more now, than at the time it was created in 1991.

Hon. Goodall Gondwe, former Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance – Malawi
Ken Ofori Atta

Ghana’s partnership with ACBF is a tremendous blessing for us and therefore the opportunity for Ghana to host the 26th ACBF Board of Governors Meeting is something that we treasure.

Hon Ken Ofori Atta, Chair of the ACBF Board of Governors and Minister of Finance - Ghana