The African Think Tank Network is created to close the gap on the “need for greater networking” for African think tanks. The purpose is to assist better maximize limited resources, more effectively disseminate expertise throughout the think tank community, and reach a larger audience with relevant knowledge for addressing the continent’s capacity gaps.
The First Africa Think Tank Summit was held in Pretoria, South Africa, on the theme: Think tanks and the Transformation of Africa. The Summit was co-organized in Pretoria, South Africa, on February 3-5, 2014 by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program (TTCSP), and the African Leadership Centre (ALC). The Pretoria Summit was followed by the Second Africa Think Tanks Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Addis Ababa Summit was organized on April 6-8, 2015 by ACBF and TTCSP, and hosted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). The theme of the Second Africa Think Tank Summit was the Rise of Africa’s Think Tanks – Practical Solutions to Practical Problems.
Both Summits offered an opportunity for Africa’s think tanks to exchange ideas and experiences on various strategic issues and consider the implications of the new dynamism taking place on the continent regarding the nature and breadth of their work. The Summits brought together a cadre of knowledge experts from think tanks, academia, international development partners, government officials, media and civil society organizations. The Summits concluded with a set of recommendations to be implemented. Key amongst the recommendations was the necessity to establish an Africa Network of Think Tanks and the establishment of a Think Tank Task Force which would follow-up with the implementation of the recommendations of the Summits.
In order to sustain the interest and keep the momentum with respect to the implementation of the recommendations of the Africa Think Tank Summits, ACBF organized the First Meeting of the Task Force on June 3–4, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In addition to reviewing the recommendations from the two Summits, the Task Force Meeting deliberated on the need for prioritization and noted that all recommendations were critical to the sustainability of think tanks.
To move toward with effective implementation of the recommendations, the Think Tank Taskforce, as recommended by the Summits, mandated ACBF to establish the African Think Tank Network and its Secretariat. This was considered as a first and important step towards effective implementation of the recommendations of the African Think Tank Summits. Additionally, according to the Taskforce, establishment of the African Network of think tanks would be a critical countermeasure to the isolationist tendencies within the community.