Partners Pledge US$30 Million to Strengthen African Think Tanks to Inform Development Policy



    24 African think tanks selected for new initiative that will support
    locally created development policies and drive positive change for
    millions of people

    DAKAR, Senegal, May 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Canada's International Development
Research Centre (IDRC), the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation today announced US$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 US$90 million to 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.
    Policy-makers 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," said 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," said Abdoulaye Diagne, the executive director of Senegal's
Consortium pour la Recherche Economique et Sociale, one of the 24 institutions
selected to receive TTI support.
    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 US$10
million, while the Hewlett Foundation has committed US$40 million and the
Gates Foundation has committed US$40 million.
    "We believe good national development policy decisions are best made when
informed by robust research and analysis grounded in local realities," said
Mark Suzman, director of policy and advocacy for the Global Development
Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "The Think Tank Initiative
marks an important step forward in helping forge stronger partnerships between
researchers and policy-makers in the developing world. We believe it is a
powerful model for achieving change and hope that other donors will join us in
this initiative to help improve the lives and livelihoods of millions of
people."
    "The Hewlett Foundation has made a total commitment of $100 million over
10 years to strengthen research in the developing world because we believe
that public policies work best when they are informed by the research of local
scholars, and that good local research requires strong local institutions,"
said Paul Brest, president of the Hewlett Foundation. "Today's announcement is
a central part of that commitment, and we are confident that this approach
will go a long way toward helping advance policies that will reduce poverty in
the developing world."
    In August 2009, IDRC will issue a call for Expression of Interest from
think tanks in Latin America and South Asia. As the initiative grows, the
think tanks will form networks that provide opportunities to build and share
best practices in policy research.

    Notes to Editors

    The 24 African think tanks receiving grants include Benin: Institute for
Empirical Research in Political Economy (IERPE); Burkina Faso: Centre d'étude
de documentation de recherches économique et sociale (CEDRES); Ethiopia:
Ethiopian Development Research Institute (EDRI) and Ethiopian Economic
Association/Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute (EEA/EEPRI); Ghana:
Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) - Ghana and Institute of Statistical,
Social and Economic Research (ISSER); Kenya: Center for Research and
Technology Development (RESTECH Center), Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) -
Kenya, Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) - Kenya, and Kenya
Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA); Mali: Groupe de
recherche en économie appliquée et théorique (GREAT); Nigeria: African
Institute for Applied Economics (AIAE), Center for the Study of the Economies
of Africa (CSEA), Centre for Population and Environmental Development (CPED),
and Nigerian Institute of Social and Economic Research (NISER); Rwanda:
Institute of Policy Analysis and Research (IPAR) - Rwanda; Senegal: Initiative
prospective agricole et rurale (IPAR) - Senegal and Consortium pour la
recherche économique et sociale (CRES); Tanzania: African Technology Policy
Studies (ATPS) - Tanzania, Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF), and
Research on Poverty Alleviation (REPOA); Uganda: Advocates Coalition for
Development and Environment (ACODE), Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC),
and Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR).

    For more information about the Think Tank Initiative, visit
www.idrc.ca/thinktank

    About IDRC

    Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) is one of the
world's leading institutions in the generation and application of new
knowledge to meet the challenges of international development. For nearly 40
years, IDRC has worked in close collaboration with researchers from the
developing world to build healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous
societies. www.idrc.ca

    About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

    The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has been making grants since
1967 to help solve social and environmental problems at home and around the
world. The Foundation concentrates its resources on activities in education,
the environment, global development, performing arts, philanthropy, and
population, and makes grants to support disadvantaged communities in the San
Francisco Bay Area. Learn more at www.hewlett.org .

    About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

    Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In
developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them
the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United
States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest
resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and
life. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes
and Co- chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda
Gates and Warren Buffett. Learn more at www.gatesfoundation.org .




For further information:

For further information: Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé, IDRC, (613)
696-2343, ibourgeault-tasse@idrc.ca; Jack Fischer, The William and Flora
Hewlett Foundation, (650) 234-4500 x5744, jfischer@hewlett.org; Bill & Melinda
Gates Foundation, (206) 709-3400, media@gatesfoundation.org

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