Africa Development Institute Kicks Off AEC with Event Focusing on AfDB Networking with Think Tank

30/10/2012
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The African Development Institute (EADI) kicked off the African Economic Conference on October 29 in Kigali, Rwanda, with a curtain-raiser event, namely a workshop to enhance networking and policy dialogue among African think tanks. The workshop, titled “Flow of Funds and Africa’s Economic Transformation”, aims to enhance networking and policy dialogue among African think tanks and top government officials who are involved in policy design and implementation. Officially opened by Rwanda Finance and Economic Planning Minister John Rwangombwa, the workshop brought together key research organizations from the continent and globally to interact with policy-makers. The focus is on the use of the flow of funds framework for policy design and analysis in order for Africa to transition to economic transformation.

Expressing worries about Africa attracting less than nine per cent Foreign Direct Investment, and the continued uncertainties in the global economy, Hon. Rwangombwa observed that this can be an opportunity for our continent. “Policy-makers working closely with researchers and think tanks of the continent can turn these challenges into opportunities,” he said. He also stressed that “Africa present itself as the most profitable and secure destination of investors’ funds that are scared of the problems in the Western markets.

“It is worrying to know that Africa attracts less than nine per cent of FDI,” he underscored.

“Working closely with think tanks reinforces the ‘knowledge broker’ role of the African Development Bank, particularly in relation to the ongoing work towards the Bank’s Long Term Strategy,” Bernadette Kamgnia of the African Development Institute said.

Speaking on the occasion, the Bank’s Regional Director, Gabriel Negatu, stressed the importance of the Bank’s Partnership with think tanks. The Bank places emphasis on this role, and has partnered with several over the past years. “Think tanks are key partners in this quest to generate knowledge for informing policy,” he affirmed, stressing that,  “In addition to contributing to knowledge generation, think tanks play a key role in linking researchers with policy-makers in an objective and non-partisan framework.”

Two papers were presented during the session, prior to debates on the major issues presented to the African Development Bank’s Board, according to Prof. Victor Murinde. One key take-away from the recently concluded KOAFEC Ministerial Meeting in Seoul  on October 15-18 was that think tanks such as the Korea Development Institute (KDI), can mastermind economic transformation through their role in conducting research and engaging in advocacy in areas such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology issues and creative and cultural fields.  Among other issues, the workshop addressed the following key questions: What is the potential of the flow of funds framework for analyzing strategic policy options that can engender economic transformation in Africa? What do we know about the patterns of intersectoral financial flows in Africa? What are the options for overcoming data constraints for flow of funds use? What are the main policy challenges for achieving economic transformation in Africa?

Chairing one presentation entitled “The Flow of Funds Approach: Overview and Case Studies,” AfDB Research Director Steve Kayizzi-Mugerwa recognized the need for a new paradigm to optimize dialogue with think tanks for structural transformation and inclusive development. For their part, the presenters Prof. Christopher J. Green and Dr. Abbi Kedir stressed the importance of a flow of funds in managing the economy. Dr. Thomas Kigabo, Chief Economist, National Bank of Rwanda, also said there is need for the Bank to stress capacity development in the area. 

Participants also included think tanks, senior-level government officials from Ministries of Finance in selected countries, and senior-level central bank officials, as well as AfDB Executive Directors for Rwanda Mary Consolate Muduli and representing Canada, Hau Sing Tse.