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. Both the Summits recognized the need for Africa’s think thanks to pay attention on new media and technology.

Discussions during the Summits recommended African think tanks to take advantage of the major potential that new media and technology offer. Such technology could provide think tanks with valuable tools for more effective communication and dissemination of research useful in engaging key stakeholders. Social media also has the capacity of creating dialogue among diverse groups and fostering organic and innovative solutions.

New media offers an opportunity to target policymakers. Think tanks are therefore advised to use publication means such as monographs, or multimedia forms to communicate the most important recommendations from their research. Technology also provides think tanks a platform to reach out more effectively to potential donors.

Recommendations from the First Summit recognized that while technology has much to offer, it must be used strategically and appropriately in order to reach different groups: social media may reach a younger contingency, online publications another, and TV and radio a third. It was emphasized that radio as a tool for dissemination can be particularly effective, especially in less-resourced areas. As a number of think tanks simply do not have the resources to connect to this new technology, it was suggested that think tanks form partnerships, which would facilitate sharing.

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Published by the Somali Institute for Development Research and Analysis (SIDRA)

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