Shaping African futures: think tanks and the need for endogenous knowledge production in Sub-Saharan Africa

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PurposeThe purpose of this article is to understand alternative African futures as an aid to improved decision-making and action by governments and by other key agents and stakeholders. Design/methodology/approachThe authors aim is to put the two concepts ("futures" and think tank) into context and explain how they are going to be used in this paper. The aim is not to engage on a prediction exercise about African futures but rather to understand, think about and explore long-term trends and how they may impact on alternative African futures. FindingsThe journey towards a knowledge economy is a difficult one and the experiences elsewhere in the world show that governments on their own can not succeed without assistance from think tanks. This means that as African governments are trying to map out new visions for the future, think tanks can grab the opportunities provided by the current realities to continue playing a meaningful role in shaping African futures. Originality/valueAfrica's complex challenges demand the best of intellectual capacities. Think tanks are potentially one of the best-suited organizations to develop innovative and advanced solutions to Africa's challenges. They have a special role to play in shaping African futures, both as knowledge providers and policy formulation partners.

Keywords: Africa; Decision making; Developing countries; Emerging economies; Group thinking; Knowledge sharing

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 31, 2011

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