Skip to main content

Building Bridges: Linking political leaders and policy experts in Africa

May 1, 2017

Building Bridges was conceived as a safe and constructive space for African leaders to foster a systematic and sustained dialogue about critical development issues in Africa. The policy-focused research and outreach program at the University of Cape Town's Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice (GSDPP) aims to build bridges in order to close the gap in analysis and thinking between political actors, decision-makers, and policy research experts.  

Leading in Public Life (LPL), the leadership development component of the program, built the capacity of 48 young African leaders from eight countries. LPL provides the next generation of African leaders with a learning space where they can acquire and exchange knowledge and build a peer support network that will be critical for their professional success. High-level experts mentor the next generation of the continent’s public servants with dialogue focused on regional integration and inclusive governance.

IDRC was the first donor to commit funding to the program, and the early support enabled GSDPP to leverage additional funding from the Ford Foundation and the U.K.’s Department for International Development. The project contributed to the establishment of GSDPP as a knowledge hub and as a prominent public leadership institution in the global South.

The experiences from the LPL led to a partnership between GSDPP and Sciences Po Executive Education (Paris) and Institut Supérieur de Management (Dakar), to develop and deliver the Global Leadership for Africa’s Development (LeAD Campus) program for young African leaders. LeAD Campus develops the skills of current and future African leaders to contribute to sustainable and inclusive growth in the continent.

The report on African Economic Integration (PDF, 1.4MB), produced in the first year of the program, contributed to a greater understanding of the forces favouring or opposing development integration in Africa, and recommended strategies to help drive the reform agenda (PDF, 1.4MB). These include the mobilization of progressive elements in civil society, business, parliament, media, and among youth; and support through pan-African and in-country networks to raise awareness of the need for integration.