Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced $30-million in grants to 24 think tanks in East and West Africa.
The Think Tank Initiative (TTI) will support independent policy think tanks in developing countries, enabling them to provide sound research that informs and influences national policy. The three donors have committed a total of $90-million over the life of the initiative.
The partners made the announcement during the annual meetings of the African Development Bank and were joined by executive directors of two think tanks from Senegal and Tanzania.
Policymakers in developing countries often lack credible, objective information to address increasingly complex social and economic issues. Independent think tanks can play a critical role in supplying this information and improving the national debate about policy options.
TTI will give core funding to local think tanks, helping them produce high-quality research that will lead to better policies and, ultimately, more equitable and prosperous societies.
"The value of providing think tanks with enduring, long-term support cannot be overstated," says Rohinton Medhora, IDRC's vice president: programs. "Predictable core funding gives institutions the certainty and continuity they need to build skills that can lead to path-breaking work and constructive public policy influence."
The initiative received nearly 300 proposals from a wide range of African think tanks that focus on broad national, social, and economic policy issues. Following a thorough and rigorous review process, 24 think tanks were selected from 11 East and West African countries, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.
"The core support provided by the Think Tank Initiative will allow us to strengthen our research program, enhance our communications strategy, and further invest in effective partnerships and networks, therefore helping us towards fulfilling our mission of building research and analysis capacity in Senegal," says Abdoulaye Diagne, the executive director of Senegal's Consortium pour la Recherche Economique et Sociale.
The Think Tank Initiative is envisioned as a long-term investment over at least 10 years. For the first five years, IDRC has made a commitment of $10-million, while the Hewlett Foundation has committed $40-million and the Gates Foundation has committed $40-million.