Prof Samwel Wangwe

Prof Samwel Wangwe

The four ?high performers?? include Research for Poverty Alleviation (REPOA), Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) and Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and Uongozi Institute.

Speaking at the national launch of the global report over the weekend, REPOA Executive Director Prof Sammuel Wangwe said the report showed that think tanks continue to expand their role and influence in countries around the world.

In the report, REPOA has been ranked number 18 out of 65 top institutions in sub-Saharan Africa in the report in contributing acknowledge for development.

In the East Africa Community, REPOA comes at Number 3. Prof Wangwe noted that there is big gap between knowledge and policy quality, which is due to little funding.

It was noted that across both developed and developing countries, governments and individual policymakers face the common problem of bringing expert knowledge to bear in government decision-making.

He said the proliferation of state and non-state actors, such as nation states, intergovernmental organisations (IGOs), transnational corporations (TNCs), and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), has helped create a demand and provided the support and space for the establishment of think tanks around the world.

The 170-page report highlights the gap between knowledge and policy as the major challenge that faces the think tank community globally.

Prof Wangwe noted that think tanks have been facing challenges in recent years due to some of the critical threats and opportunities that face the think tank community.

The threats are commonly expressed as the ?four mores? ? more issues, more actors, more competition and more conflicts. The report noted that there are many key influences that drove growth of think tanks, including the information and technological revolution, the decline of governmental monopolies on information and the increasing complexity and technical nature of policy issues.

Others are the increasing size and scope of governments, the crisis of confidence in elected governmental officials, increased globalisation and the growth of state and non-state actors, and the need for timely and concise information and analysis.

The Director Think Tanks and Civil Societies Programme, International Relations Programme University of Pennsylvania, Dr James McGann, said the ongoing challenge for think tanks is to produce timely and accessible policy-oriented research that effectively engages policymakers, the press, and the public on the critical issues facing a country.

?Gone are the days when a think tank could operate with the motto ?research it, write it and they will find it.? Today, think tanks must be lean, mean, policy machines.

The ?Economist? described ?good think tanks? as those organisations that are able to combine ?intellectual depth, political influence, and flair for publicity, comfortable surroundings, and a streak of eccentricity,? he said.

Dr Mc Gann said those who fail to organise and integrate new technology and communication strategies are destined to be known for their ?pedantry? ? and little else.

?For the reasons outlined in this report, the role and importance of independent think tanks will continue to grow. Clearly there is no shortage of policy challenges at the national, regional, among others,? he said.

The 2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index (GGTTI) marks the eighth year of continued efforts by the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Programme (TTCSP) at the University of Pennsylvania to acknowledge the important contributions and emerging global trends of think tanks worldwide.

BY ORTON KIISHWEKO, Tanzania Daily News

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