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


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).

THE African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) will on the 8th and 9th of April hold the 3rd African Think Tanks Summit at the Elephant Hills Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

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. It will be held under the theme “Creating a Sustainable Future for African Think Tanks in Support of SDGs and Agenda 2063.” 

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 are expected to 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,” said Emmanuel Nnadozie, Executive Secretary for the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) which is secretariat to the Africa Think Tank Network (ATTN).

“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,” he said.

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.” said 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 said.

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.

Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette