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African think tanks need the support of governments and development partners

26 Apr, 2019

The ACBF Executive Secretary, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, has made a stirring call to African governments and development partners to continue supporting African think tanks through a coordinated approach so that the think tanks can better support African countries and provide home-grown solutions to the continent’s development problems.

Opening the 6th Africa Think Tank Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, on 24 April, Prof Nnadozie said, “Think tanks do face some challenges, key among them is their sustainability. Think tanks in many countries have not attracted the expected support from African governments and the private sector and this needs to be addressed.

“We, at ACBF are committed to making African think tanks strategic intellectual partners and reliable institutions in the provision of home-grown solutions to tackling implementation challenges for Africa’s sustainable development,” the Executive Secretary added.

The theme of this year’s Summit, the 6th in the series which started in 2014, is “Tackling Implementation Challenges For Africa’s Sustainable Development”.

Being held in Nairobi from 24-26 April, the Summit aims to inform decision-makers and solution-seekers on how think tanks can meaningfully contribute to tackling policy implementation challenges on the continent, especially as regards the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ SDGs, through sharing knowledge on good practices in ensuring successful implementation of policies and strategies.

“We are hopeful that through the Africa Think Tank Network, housed at ACBF, we will continue to promote think-tanking,” Prof Nnadozie noted. “In fact, our gathering today and for the next two days, gives me comfort, that going forward, all African governments and key continental bodies and development partners, here present, will give more support to these strategic institutions given their role in shaping policy and public life.

He presented a powerful argument on how partnerships in support of stronger and sustainable think tanks through coordinating institutions like the ACBF, which is the African Union’s Specialized Agency for Capacity Development, is critical.

“For think tanks to better play their role, special attention needs to be given to building their long-term capacities and supporting them to remain independent in setting their research agenda in support of the socio-economic transformation of the continent,” the Executive Secretary said. “This is best done through a coordinated approach if their needs are to be effectively addressed so they can contribute optimally to the continent’s transformation needs.

“Hence I call upon all continental key stakeholders and African governments to provide the necessary political and financial support toward ACBF and the African Union Commission to coordinate and work with the think tanks on the proposed initiatives and strategies aimed at tackling policy implementation challenges in Africa.

“It is my wish that a year from now, when we gather for our seventh summit, the think tanks present here will bring success stories on how they have influenced implementation of policies and programs in their countries.”

Rallying his audience further, Prof Nnadozie said the think tanks and policy institutes had helped improve performance in macroeconomic management and entrenching evidence-based policymaking and evaluation.

The think tanks have also historically played a crucial role in supporting evidence-based socio-economic transformation in general. Thus, their expertise is required even more now when African countries are lacking capacity to implement policies.

The Executive Secretary therefore called on African think tanks themselves to share their experiences on how they have supported countries to implement policies as well as come up with clear action plans and innovative ways on how they will continue to contribute in assisting the continent to tackle their implementation challenges.

As he put it: “The think tanks have also been particularly active in working on poverty reduction strategies, as well as providing seminal studies in areas such as agriculture and trade, and export diversification. These success stories can be found in countries throughout the region, such as Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda.

“Given the successes and the various solutions provided by think tanks so far, we believe that our home-grown African think tanks, many of which are world-class think tanks, have matured to offer solutions to such challenges as policy implementation, paying special attention to dimensions around transformative leadership development, and development of critical skills and partnership building.”

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