While Africa has the capability to realize its full potential, it requires adequate capacity to successfully implement its development agenda, says Hon Henry K. Rotich, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary, National Treasury and Planning.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 6th Africa Think Tank Summit, organised by ACBF and its partners in Nairobi, Kenya, Hon Rotich said various solutions had been proffered in the past to tackle Africa’s policy implementation challenges, but no lasting solution has been found so far.
The Summit, which runs from 24-26 April, is under the theme: “Tackling Implementation Challenges for Africa’s Sustainable Development”.
Hon Rotich said the theme of the Summit was very timely as Africa was at the initial stages of implementing the AU Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
“By addressing the policy implementation challenges, this will go a long way in supporting the attainment of sustainable development for Africa,” the Cabinet Secretary said.
Arguing that transformative leadership was key to successful implementation of development projects and programs, Hon Rotich said African countries required right leadership at both state and non-state levels to tackle implementation challenges such as continuity in government policies, human capacity and public expenditure, and financial accountability.
“I wish to commend the role played by the ACBF over the last three decades in addressing Africa’s capacity challenges,” the Cabinet Secretary said. “This including, by enhancing the quality and relevance of policy research, and strengthening policy engagement among government and non-state actors, as well as the use of policy products and services.
“ACBF has also supported institutional and human competencies of policy centres and think tanks to effectively support public policy processes. I believe many of the think tanks present here today have benefited from ACBF support at some point,” he added.
Turning to think tanks, Hon Rotich said the development of think tanks in Africa was a fairly recent phenomenon. However, the contribution of think tanks to government policy processes has already been felt continent-wide, with significant pressure to improve governance.
Africa has since seen a notable increase in the number of think tanks, he said, which today stands at over 660, accounting for 8.5% of the number of global think tanks.
“The mushrooming of think tanks in Africa is precipitated by the presence of dynamic political, economic and social reforms creating an opportunity for think tanks to leverage,” Hon Rotich noted.
“Furthermore, with the expansion of the democratic space, African countries are providing a level-playing field for diverse think tanks to thrive, including those that are government-affiliated like KIPPRA (or Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis).”
These developments, he said, call for think tanks, policy centres, networks and policy makers to work together to strengthen the research-to-policy linkage, which is critical for African development.
“I have been informed that the stakeholders invited today represent some of the most formidable think tanks on the continent,” he said. “I would urge that as you deliberate on the focal areas of the Summit, you should tangibly identify common areas of interest that we can engage in, in accomplishing the AU Agenda 2063, the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the SDGs, among other development blueprints.
“It is my hope that this Summit will highlight practical approaches to successful implementation of policies in Africa considering specific country-experiences and good practices. This including the renewal and enhanced commitment of Africa’s think tanks to proactively support the implementation of national, regional and continental development plans.”
Hon Rotich urged the Summit to deliberate on how to strengthen the platform for networking through fruitful exchange of ideas, knowledge and relevant experiences, and good practices on what needs to be done to effectively tackle Africa’s implementation challenges.