Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

Launch of the 2014 Global Go-To Think Tank Index Report

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Theme: The Role of Think Tanks in an Evolving Africa
Time: 10:00-11:30; Venue: CODESRIA, Avenue Cheikh Anta Diop X Canal IV, Dakar

Report on the CODESRIA Panel Discussion to Launch the 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index

In line with the agreement by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa’s (CODESRIA) agreement to organize a local launch of the 2014 Report of the Global Go-To Think Tanks Index, the Council organized a launch ceremony at its office on March 22, 2015. The event, which was attended by 28 people ran from 10:00 to 11:30am and was followed by a cocktail in the front lawn of CODESRIA. It assembled senior officials from the Senegalese state, representatives of many Thank Tanks in Dakar and members of the Press as well as CODESRIA staff.

The event took the form of a panel discussion under the theme ‘The role of Think Tanks in an evolving Africa. It was chaired by Carlos Cardoso (Head, Research Program, CODESRIA) who welcomed participants, introduced the event and panelists and moderated presentations and the Q&A session that followed the panelists’ presentations. In his opening remarks, The Executive Secretary of CODESRIA, Ebrima Sall highlighted the position of CODESRIA as the 4th best Think Tank in Africa and pointed to its confirmation of the excellent work of the organization. He also highlighted some of the problematic aspects of the report.

Sall’s comments were followed by 10-minute presentations by Ato Onoma (Program Officer, CODESRIA), Olivier Sagna (Professor, Director of Studies and Cooperation, Ministry of Higher Education and Research), Penda Mbow (Minister and Special Advisor to the President of Senegal) and Marema Toure Thiam (UNESCO). Onoma summarized offered some critical comments on key points in the report. Sagna, who was speaking on the theme ‘Think Tanks in an evolving Africa’ insisted, among other things, on the need to invest in Universities and centers of basic research even as the important roles of think tanks are recognized in Africa. Marema Toure Thiam in her comments under the title ‘Do Think Tanks have their own agenda’ pointed out that despite the economic dependence of many think tanks and states in Africa more could be done to fashion and pursue autonomous agendas. Penda Mbow under the theme ‘Do governments need think tanks,’ pointed to the important roles that think tanks play not only in state policy making and implementation but in civil society activism, which is key to governance in Africa. Her presentation was followed by a very brief question and answer session.

One could point to a sense of guarded appreciation of the 2014 report and the idea of creating a global index. The importance of giving a general sense of how good various institutions were was appreciated. However, concerns were raised about the indicators used, the great diversity in the institutions classed as think tanks and the uncanny way in which the top end of the rankings neatly map on to maps of global inequality.

The event received wide coverage by the media. On January 22, 2015 it was featured in the 20:00 news bulletin of Radio Television Senegalais, the main state-owned TV channel and one of the most widely viewed in the country.

You can find on the attachments the program of the panel discussion.

January 21 2015