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The Political Impact of Think Tanks in Africa: Some Insights from ACBF-Supported Think Tanks

Dr. Cristina D'Alessandro (ACBF Knowledge Management Expert)
2 Fairbairn Drive Mt. Pleasant, ACBF Boardroom
11 Jul, 2014
11:00 – 13:00 Hrs


Knowledge production and management has a crucial role in contemporary societies and more specifically in Africa, in relation with capacity development gaps. For this reason, African think tanks have a peculiar position and action in the knowledge-power interface, between exogenous and endogenous political actors and processes in African contexts. It is therefore necessary to examine the political impacts of African think tanks. The political impact here does not refer to political parties and to partisan relations, but to the more complex political powers/relations (intertwining internal and external actors) at the national level in African contexts. Using insights from seven ACBF-supported think tanks across the continent as well as a review of the literature available in this domain, the presentation will highlight some preliminary results of a wider research examining the mutual interactions between African political powers and environments (including political leadership) and think tanks. Capacity gaps of think tanks will be examined to see whether and eventually how they limit their political impact in terms of policy research and action. Drawing some provisional conclusions, the presentation will raise some questions to reflect on the way ACBF (and other capacity building institutions) could fund more effectively think tanks across the continent to increase their effectiveness and performance and thereafter enhance their impact on the political arenas of African countries.


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