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Communiqué from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

19 Nov, 2014

Announcing Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s continued support for tobacco control in Africa

Dear Partners,

The Gates Foundation remains strongly committed to supporting tobacco control in Africa. We have recently committed more than US$32M in investments to fund work over the next three to four years. This represents the largest funding commitment from the foundation to the African continent for tobacco control to-date.

Over the past several years, we have all seen great momentum in tobacco control in Africa, with significant progress, success, and adherence to the WHO FCTC. African countries have also faced challenging tobacco industry road blocks, and a shifting landscape. This new phase of grants capitalizes on the excellent work already underway, while also responding to evolving and critical needs of many country partners.

We are very pleased to be funding a strong group of global and regional partners to work in concert with the African tobacco control community: the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), CDC Foundation, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK), and the World Health Organization (WHO) including jointly led work by the Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) and Headquarters.

Your feedback in 2013 and 2014 informed our funding strategy for this next phase. You asked for more transparency in grant making, better role clarity and coordination among partners and grant makers, and direct investment in a strategic African organization that can help build capacity. These requests formed the cornerstone of our investments this year. In short, we left things alone where they appeared to be working, and gave new consideration to 1) capacity building with the goal of a sustainable tobacco control community deeply rooted in Africa and 2) transparency and coordination between all partners.

The purpose of each investment as follows:

Africa Capacity Building Foundation (a three-year grant covering 12 African countries) fills a key role as an Africa-based strategic partner providing both grants and capacity building support for civil society and others. They are a highly-respected leader on institutional and human capacity building and have managed $500M in grants in 45 African countries. ACBF will share more information on how to apply for its tobacco control grants.

CDC Foundation (a four-year grant covering 25 countries)implements the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) and the Global Youth Tobacco Survey (GYTS) in partnership with WHO and Health Ministries, providing world-renowned comprehensive tobacco surveillance data in Africa, which is critical to building the evidence base for policy change. With this funding, CDC Foundation will pursue GATS in Ethiopia, Botswana, Tanzania, and potentially Burkina Faso, and GYTS in 23 African countries.

Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (a three-year grant covering up to 10 countries) will continue to provide journalist, political and media advocacy, and legal training, as well as funding and nimble, results-driven technical assistance for civil society national campaigns in support of FCTC provisions. CTFK and ACBF will coordinate closely on the grants each makes to avoid duplication and ensure complementarity. 

WHO AFRO and Headquarters (a three-year grant) will work closely together to convene African governments on tobacco control issues and provide direct technical expertise to African governments on tobacco tax, illicit trade control, and other FCTC policies upon request. They will work closely with CDC Foundation on surveillance efforts, and with ACBF and CTFK to jointly coordinate on country plans. In addition, WHO will develop agro-economic country profiles and a report on tobacco growing and trade in the region.

This of course is a very short list, representing only the partners receiving direct funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of this new phase of work in Africa. All our partners play a critical and distinct role, whether they receive direct funding from us or a sub-grant through partners, or no foundation funding at all.

As you know, we are also supporting some social marketing and behavior change work against tobacco use in Africa as a complement to important and ongoing policy work.

Additionally, we are very grateful to the American Cancer Society, a key partner of ours over the past five years that played a foundational role in the first phase of this Africa work. They will be phasing out of this particular partnership over the next few months, working closely with ACBF and others to ensure a smooth transition. They remain an immensely valuable partner in the community and a leader in NCD research and advocacy.

Lastly, we have postponed the Africa Partner Meeting, which always provides an important face-to-face moment for all of us to discuss critical topics. We will stay in touch about new dates, and other opportunities and platforms to connect in-person. We encourage open communication between and among all partners as the current work continues, and this new phase of grants kicks off. We read all of your updates, which provide important insights into our collective efforts and progress. Please keep those coming.

Please feel free to share this communiqué with your own partners to ensure clarity and transparency, and, as always, let us know if you have any questions or concerns. 

Warm regards,

Cynthia Lewis

Deputy Director

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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