What are the best ways forward to enhance the capacity, increase the impact, and ensure the long term viability of think tanks in Africa? These questions have been debated during the 2nd edition of African Think Tank Summit (ATTS) held in Rabat from May 9th to May 11th.
Thank you for the invitation to address the 2018 Africa Think Tank Summit in this memorable city of Rabat. I thank in particular, the OCP Policy Center and the Think Tank and Civil Societies Program of the University of Pennsylvania for hosting the Summit with the theme “Deepening Expertise and Enhancing Sustainability: Insight into Contemporary Challenges Facing African Think Tanks”.
In a more chaotic and critical Mediterranean security environment that is facing a huge geopolitical change, the NATO alliance has found itself challenged by rival states across the spectrum of conflict. Russia, which represents an instance of this change, has acquired for the first time in its modern history a proper permanent base in the Mediterranean. Also, other geopolitical changes such as proliferation of ballistic missiles among both state and non-state actors around the Mediterranean Sea hold key military and commercial transit points at risk ranging from the Bab-el-Mandeb, to the Bosporus, to Gibraltar. Given these challenges, NATO found itself in a situation that necessitates the launch of a partnership framework on new foundations. For this reason, NATO decided to establish a focal platform dealing with non-classified information and gathering national and military structures, professors, experts, international organizations as well as non-governmental organizations. Based at the Allied Joint Force Command Headquarters in Lago Patria Naples, this platform has been fully operational since December 2017.
Awad Ibrahim, chairman of the Lybian Organisation of Policies and Strategies (LOPS), one of the few think tanks in this violence-torn country, has escaped to establish contacts with his African colleagues at the African Think Tank Summit held in Rabat from May 9th to 11th. For a few years he was Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy in his country, and later appointed Deputy Prime minister. At times Awad Ibrahim fears for his life, but he believes a political solution between the two competing power centers in Lybia is still possible, even through elections. When ? He remains silent… No one knows. Dr Awad Ibrahim, educated in electrical engineering, was in his world when he discussed the role of think tanks in advocating for green energy in Africa, a session chaired by Aziz Mekouar, the ambassador to multilateral negotiations of COP 22 and future representative of Morocco in China.
Le sens communautaire évoqué par Karim El Aynaoui, directeur général de l’OCP Policy Center, dans son allocution de bienvenue aux participants à la seconde édition du Sommet des think tanks africains, s’est exprimé dans toute sa richesse et sa diversité le 9 mai.
These days, the word «crisis» is gaining a new urgency around the globe… Crisis of humanity, of water, hunger, poverty, climate. Crisis of war, destruction, terrorism. And a crisis of thought, intellectual exchange, theories transfered into reality. And a crisis of think tanks, eventually, although their work matters, since it sends signals, offers proposals and applicable solutions.
Think tanks are blooming in Africa, as they have been in the USA, Europe and China… Some are already mature, like the Codesria, launched in 1973 in Dakar (Senegal) or the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), first established in 1991 in Pretoria, with regional offices opened in Cape Town, Addis Abeba and Nairobi.
“Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and smart” (Donald Trump on Twitter).