Penn-organized Summit Served as a Catalyst to Strengthen African Think Tanks

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | jposey@upenn.edu | 215-898-6460March 13, 2014

The first-ever summit of African think tank leaders, co-organized by the University of Pennsylvania’s Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program, has resulted in a number of important recommendations.

The Summit held in February in Pretoria, South Africa, brought more than 45 of the leading think tanks from 28 African countries together to focus on the organizational and policy challenges facing think tanks in the region and how they might increase their sustainability, value and impact. 

“This was a landmark conference not only because it was the first continental meeting of African think tanks but more importantly because of the groundbreaking recommendations and plan of action that the participants committed themselves to at the Summit,” James McGann, director of Penn’s TTCSP said. “I am convinced that the recommendations will have a far reaching impact on think tanks in Africa and citizens and governments they serve."

The recommendations included a call for the development of strategies and programs to engage private indigenous donors to support think tanks. Think tank leaders want to establish a Pan African Think Tank Network and hold an annual meeting of think tanks in the region.

To help ensure the sustainability of think tanks in Africa, summit participants recommended strengthening and funding the core operations of think tanks, developing a media and public engagement training program and a national and regional media directory and resource guide.

Summit participants called for a think tank co-operative to promote and manage shared resources and services such as staff recruitment, joint purchasing of computer hardware, Web hosting and negotiation of in-kind contributions of such resources as software or mobile devices.

The Summit was organized in partnership with the African Capacity Building Foundation, African Leadership Center, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Konrad Andenauer Stiftungand.

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