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ACBF's impact on Think Tanks in Africa

29 Jan, 2016

ACBF supported Think Tanks top the 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nine think tanks supported by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) have been ranked among the top 20 in sub-Saharan Africa in the 2015 Global Go To Think Tanks Index Report.

Produced by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania, the Global Go To Think Tanks Report is the most comprehensive ranking of the world’s top think tanks. The ACBF launched this year’s Report with the theme “Why Think Tanks Matter to Policymakers and the Public” on Thursday, 28 January in Harare, Zimbabwe on behalf of TTCSP as part of the global launch that took place in over 75 cities. 

Same as 2014’s ranking, the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) was top in the 2015 Report as the best think tank in sub-Saharan Africa. Other ACBF supported think tanks among the top five include the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) based in Senegal at the third place and the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (BIDPA) at the fourth place. 

However, Africa still has the least number of think tanks. The largest number of think tanks in the world were in the United States with 1 835. China and the United Kingdom had 435 and 288 respectively. Sub-Saharan Africa has 615 think tanks. Only 92 think tanks in sub-Saharan Africa were ranked.

“African think tanks are still lagging behind, a reflection of low capacity to deliver on their expected roles. For example, the 2015 Report shows that only 3 African think tanks have been ranked in the top think tanks (48) with the best use of internet. This means that our think tanks in Africa are unable to efficiently use the Internet including social media tools, to engage with policymakers, journalists and the public,” said Dr. Thomas Munthali, Director of Knowledge, Monitoring and Evaluation Department at the ACBF.

“The low usage of such technology reflects what is obtainable at the country level generally. This is more the reason the focus of ACBF’s 2016 flagship report, will be on addressing capacity imperatives for Science, Technology and Innovation,” noted Dr. Munthali. 

ACBF believes that think tanks play a critical role in the policy process. “Think Tanks serve as a catalyst for ideas and actions on key policy issues and bridging the gap between knowledge and policy between governments and stakeholders,” noted Dr. Barassou Diawara, Knowledge Management Expert at ACBF when he presented findings from the Report at the launch.

“The success of ACBF-supported think tanks in driving the policy agenda at country and regional levels has been recognized by others, including the Think Tank Initiative supported by the Hewlett and Gates Foundations and Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC). It is also recognised by the University of Pennsylvania Global Rankings of “go-to” think tanks in the world,” added Dr. Diawara.

“Our initial effort to produce a global ranking of the world’s leading think tanks in 2006 was in response to a series of requests from donors, government officials, journalists, and scholars who wanted the TTCSP to identify the leading think tanks in the world, noted James McGann, Director TTCSP and Editor of the Global Go To Index. “Since its inception, our objective for the Global Go To Think Tank Index report have been to gain a better understanding of the role think tanks play in governments and civil societies. Using this knowledge, we hope to help enhance the quality, capacity and performance of think tanks around the world,” Said McGann in a video introduction. 

In launching the Report, the ACBF Director for Operations, Dr. Coffi Noumon, pointed out that the low numbers of African think tanks in the 2015 rankings points to the need for ACBF, through the newly launched African Think Tank Network, to play an even more supportive role in facilitating for their capacity needs in order to have them effectively help countries in evidence-based planning.

View pictures of the launch here...

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