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Sustainable Capacity of African Think Tanks Critical for Achieving SDGs and Agenda 2063

Victoria Falls
04 Apr, 2016

The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) will hold the 3rd African Think Tanks Summit on 8-9 April, 2016 at the Elephant Hills Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. This year’s theme will be “Creating a Sustainable Future for African Think Tanks in Support of SDGs and Agenda 2063.”  The summit is being organized in partnership with the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, and the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

The Summit will draw representation from think tanks across Africa and will offer a practical roadmap for think tanks to help countries implement the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These global and regional development agendas lay out an ambitious but achievable way forward for Africa; one that will require the focused effort of all of Africa’s intellectual resources to accomplish.

“Despite over a decade-long history of development planning, many African countries continue to experience challenges in designing, implementing and monitoring of their development planning frameworks,” says Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary for the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) which is secretariat to the Africa Think Tank Network (ATTN).

He adds, “Success of these Agendas will require advocacy and sensitization about the details of such frameworks, strengthened capacities to integrate such initiatives into national planning frameworks, evidence-based policymaking, an institutional architecture and skills to monitor and follow-up on implementation outcomes. This is where the think tanks come in as they will play a key role as governments roll out these Agendas.”

With the recent adoption of the SDGs, the task of implementing them along with Agenda 2063 should begin in earnest. However, this effort will require more analytical and scientific rigor than was the case with the Millennium Development Goals. There are more goals and targets to meet. Whereas the MDG’s consisted of 8 goals and 18 targets, Agenda 2030 comprises of 17 goals and 169 targets, and Agenda 2063 contains 20 goals and 34 priority areas including multiple targets. The value of think tanks then comes into play as they understand better the development landscape prevalent in their countries of operation.

Both Agendas are anchored by the three integrated dimensions of sustainable development: economic, environmental and social. This adds yet another layer of complexity to the policy implementation process, since, not only must policymakers design programs that facilitate 

growth but they must ensure that such growth meets the litmus test of economic, environmental and social sustainability.

“The key message is that capacity in all its three forms - human, institutional and soft - remains the missing link in attainment of Africa’s development priorities.  Further, ACBF’s 25 years experience in developing such capacity has shown that there is need to craft strategies that will go beyond just developing this capacity. There is need to develop strategies for retaining, harmonizing and utilizing such capacities on the continent. This calls for building strong partnerships with think tanks and various stakeholders for sustainability of such efforts.” Says Prof. Nnadozie

“To efficiently tackle the capacity challenges, however, there is need to provide political and financial support to institutions that have experience in capacity development as well as solid understanding of the continent’s development architecture (which includes understanding the role of such key players as think tanks) so as to effectively coordinate capacity development efforts for Africa’s sustainable and inclusive development.” He adds. 

The Third Summit will build on the outcomes of the Second Summit that was held in April 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That Summit explored ways in which Africa’s think tanks could continue to make a difference in the continent’s transformation, and how they could increasingly become relevant and important contributors to development in Africa.

The First Africa Think Tank Summit was held in February 2014 in Pretoria, South Africa. It focused on the organizational and policy challenges facing think tanks in the region and how they might increase their sustainability, value and impact.                                                                                                                      


For more information, please contact:

Susan Mwiti,

Communication Consultant

The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)
2 Fairbairn Drive, Mt. Pleasant
P.O. Box 1562
Harare, Zimbabwe

Tel. +263 4304663, 0782 762 544

Note to editors

About the African Capacity Building Foundation

Established in 1991, ACBF builds human and institutional capacity for good governance and economic development in Africa. To date the Foundation has empowered people in governments, parliaments, civil society, private sector and higher education institutions in more 

than 45 countries and 6 regional economic communities. ACBF supports capacity development with grants, technical assistance and knowledge across Africa.

The establishment of ACBF was in response to the severity of Africa’s capacity needs, and the challenges of investing in indigenous human capital and institutions in Africa. ACBF interventions are premised on four principles: the centrality of capacity to the development process in Africa; the critical role of a partnership and demand driven approach in tackling capacity challenges; African ownership and leadership in the capacity development process; and a systematic, sequenced and coordinated approach to the capacity development process. 

For further information go to:

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