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How 10 years of support has made African think tanks stronger

Published on
October 03, 2019

The 10-year Think Tank Initiative (TTI), which concluded in 2019, focused on strengthening the capacity of independent policy research organizations, or think tanks, to provide evidence-based research.

This $200 million partnership was a collaboration between IDRC, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the UK Department for International Development, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and in the first phase, the Netherlands Directorate-General for International Cooperation.

These donors recognized the importance of think tanks as sources of context-specific data and analysis that governments in developing countries need to develop effective public policies. Through their research, think tanks can help to design and monitor policies and programs to ensure they have a positive impact on people’s lives.

The initiative’s support helped more than 40 think tanks in 20 countries engage in long-term planning, establish research priorities, strengthen their capacity for policy engagement and communication, and pursue research that is timely and relevant to national needs and opportunities.

This series of videos highlights some of the ways that African think tanks have developed with TTI support.

Bridging knowledge, policy, and practice

Ethiopian Economic Association, Ethiopia

“We have been able to maintain a critical mass of support staff. We were able to equip research facilities and improve our systems, conduct several workshops, conferences. We were able to publish a number of research products and disseminate them to stakeholders.”

Institute of Economic Affairs, Ghana

“The support we received from the Think Tank Initiative has… impacted the Institute in three ways: improving the quality of our research, improving the quality of our dialogue… and enabling us to build organizational capacity.”

Institute of Economic Affairs, Kenya

”The goal that we made was to ensure that, within the lifetime of the Think Tank Initiative partnership, the Institute of Economic Affairs would be ranked among the top 10 think tanks in Africa. We achieved that last year.”

Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, Rwanda  

“[TTI] has been able to bring the voices of different think tanks into one voice and to advocate for the necessity of the existence and the strengthening of think tanks in Africa.” 

Initiative prospective agricole et rurale, Senegal

“[TTI was] an exemplary partnership that allowed us to grow. [TTI supported] the training of our researchers, the acquisition of evidence, the development of partnerships within the country and partnerships built between foreign think tanks, and also the empowerment to give power to women.”

Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment, Uganda

“The support from TTI has given us latitude to think out of the box. TTI has been one of a kind in terms of funding support, peer learning, policy engagement, improved research quality, and finally, institutional strengthening.”


Watch all videos from the Think Tanks in Africa series