Central Africa: Think tank leaders brainstorm on practical leadership, man’g’t for effective impacts.

Some think tank leaders from across the Central African Sub-region have reflected on practical leadership and management of think tanks to ensure effective impacts.

This was during a two-day in-person leadership and advocacy immersion programme held in Mbankomo, on the outskirts of Yaounde. 



The immersion programme which ended Friday March 22, was organised by the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation.

According to one of the participants, Dr Nguejo Thayoh Adelaide, of the Think do Tank The Okwelians, think tanks are often faced by a lot of challenges associated with leadership and managerial issues which sometimes limit their impacts in the given society.

She stated that the two-day gathering provided a platform for them to address those challenges that limit the think tanks’ ability to adequately defend policies that promote open, democratic and accountable governance. 

Think tanks are faced with challenges including finances. It not easy to find the necessary financial resources to be able function smoothly and accomplish their goal/missions,” she stated. 

The expert in public law also highlighted the challenges relating to finding qualified researchers to produce relevant, high-quality research and influence policy, as well as having enough visibility for their actions and activities. 

Experts during panel discussion

 

 

She, however, observed that in order to surmount these challenges, “think tanks need to adopt strategies that will permit them to acquire funds but they also need help from technical and financial partners”.

“They also put in place communication strategies that enable them to gain visibility and to be known by the population and national and international actors,” she added.

 

Strategic collaboration with donors, partners

The Coordinator of Civil Peace Service programme at the German Agency for International Cooperation, GIZ-Cameroon, Aude Cuzon Gatcho was amongst the keynote speakers during the immersion programme.

According to her, think tanks need to also build strategic and sustainable collaboration with donors and partners.

For this to be done, she noted that transparency and integrity are key aspects for think tanks to improve on. 

“Think tanks need to build trust and to have good projects. They have to build trust that they are able to implement those projects and to provide the expected results,” the GIZ official stated. 

She added that think tanks should also ensure they are well structured and have a good approach to communication, not only about their organisations and activities but also liaising with the different partners. 

FB_IMG_1711448171728Think tank leaders, other stakeholders during the discussion

 

 

“The first thing that donor do is to research about the organisation on the internet. Are you a well-structured and established organisation? Are you a new or old organisation?” she began explaining, before adding that: “They search on the organisation website as well as other news websites or platforms. That is why organisations’ online communication is very important”. 

 

To sustain collaboration with donors, the GIZ-Cameroon Coordinator of Civil Peace Service recommended that think tanks should regularly inform their technical and financial partners through newsletters or by inviting them to their different events. 

 

 

Improving think tank ecosystem

The Director of Economic Affairs at the Nkafu Policy Institute, Dr Jean Cedric Kouam, indicated that it has been observed that think tanks in Central Africa region are lacking behind because the absence of a strong ecosystem compared to other regions. 

He asserted that this may be linked to the fact that think tanks in the region often work in isolation, thus the need to strengthen their capacities and seek for ways to enhance the collaboration of think tanks in the region.

“Our strategy is to bring together all the think tank leaders so that we can reflect about our common challenges and the strategies that we can implement to overcome the challenges,” Dr Kouam proclaimed.

To walk the talk, Dr Kouam said they began in 2023 with the organisation of two-day in-person emersion for think tank leaders in Central Africa which was followed by the first-ever Forum of Think Tanks Leaders in Central Africa.

The forum which was organised in Yaounde, brought together leaders and researchers in Central Africa in order to reflect on strategies to build the ecosystem. 

“So, we will continue this year and this is the first think tank meeting. For this two-day leadership emersion programme, we want to develop practical leadership and management for think tanks because internally, think tanks in Central Africa have a lot of difficulties,” the Economic Director reiterated.  

At the end of the hybrid event, it is hoped that the leadership and research capacities of think tank researchers, particularly women researchers to conduct research and policy advocacy have been enhanced as well as the visibility and reach of think tanks in Central Africa on the continent and worldwide will be expanded.

about author About author : Macwalter Njapteh Refor

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