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Building Bridges 2017 and beyond: Promoting inclusive governance through public leadership development

In Africa, there is an increasing call for real engagement with stakeholders around governance-related policy issues. The continent faces a number of development challenges that need strategic intervention and resources to promote reflection and action. This requires strong leadership, which is hampered due to control by elites, corruption, and lack of accountability, all of which present major stumbling blocks to inclusive development. This lack of inclusive and engaged governance has led to an increasing mutual mistrust between different stakeholders, combined with a growing frustration about the limited space for citizen engagement. In addition, there are few platforms that facilitate frank and informed conversations on issues related to governance and development between activists, policymakers, and practitioners.

Through the Building Bridges program, implemented by the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice, this project aims to build bridges and new networks of trust and expertise between political decision-makers, policy researchers, and civil society. It also aims to contribute to the strengthening of leadership around development challenges through engagement, dialogue, and research. An evaluation from the first phase of the program underscored the importance of collective action by citizens and/or non-governmental organizations who can push for governance reforms aimed at promoting ethical, accountable, and inclusive governance through their sustained interaction with state actors.

The intent is to consolidate the Building Bridges program as a unique platform for governments, civil society, donors, and researchers to explore solutions and identify effective strategies. The project aims to grow and support a network of capable, ethical leaders that contribute to inclusive and engaged governance to address emerging challenges for development in Africa.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
24 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Mutisi
Total Funding
CA$ 599,800.00
South of Sahara
Governance and Justice
Institution Country
South Africa
Project Leader
University of Cape Town