Foreign Policy Magazine, January 2009
In the January 2009 edition of the influential Foreign Policy magazine,
IMANI was named the sixth most influential think tank in Africa, coming
only after the Centre for Conflict Resolution, South African Institute of
International Affairs (SAIIA), Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Free
Market Foundation, all in South Africa and the Council for the Development
of Social Science Research in Africa based in Senegal. The rest of the top
25 think tanks in Africa are on page 31 of the global think tank index at
We thank all our well wishers, donors and the entire IMANI team for making
Please take a moment to read how far we have come all on an annual
IMANI: The Story So Far (http://www.imanighana.com)
IMANI: The Center for Policy& Education has undergone remarkable growth
since its inception barely 4 years ago, and has today attained a stature
that is in many ways truly astounding.
IMANI's "competitors" in Ghana are on average more than 4 times older,
with extensive networks across governmental and corporate circles, and
thus a pedigree borne of the privilege that such access endows. It is
therefore quite fascinating that IMANI is frequently cited in the same
leagues as the most prestigious of these institutions. Since May 2008, a
weekly media citation index managed by in-house staff has consistently
shown IMANI to be number one among Ghanaian institutions for
"web-presence" and number two when it comes to citations in the print
press. Its profile in the broadcast media has also improved dramatically
in recent times. Considering the resources available to these older
institutions, IMANI's higher public profile constitutes a remarkable feat
Over the course of the past four years here in Ghana, IMANI has
consistently raised the level and quality of debate and discourse in the
popular and specialized press by highlighting hitherto neglected issues
that touch on the four broad thematic pillars that in the organisation's
view under gird the development of free, stable, and prosperous societies.
The master themes of "Rule of Law", "Market Growth &
"Individual Rights, Human Security, and Human Dignity", and
Development" have by careful and sustained marketing been mainstreamed
into the national discourse through IMANI's advocacy and public outreach
efforts. Consequently, as indicated above, the organisation has become the
most consulted think tank in Ghana by such major media houses as the BBC,
the IPS (Inter Press Service), and more recently the CBC. It is perhaps
worthy of more than a passing comment to add that the representation of
IMANI's work in international periodicals such as the Wall Street Journal
outstrips that of any other organization of similar orientation in West
With only 5 staff and 8 unremunerated fellows IMANI nevertheless maintains
commitments across the aforesaid 4 thematic areas at a level and to an
extent that very few of its larger, older, competitors have shown a
willingness match. The evidence for these claims is manifest in the
breadth of subject matter covered by IMANI publications, press
submissions, and other commentary.
The influence of the organisation's views, and their scope, have led to
the modification of anti-market tax policies, to the reversal of highly
restrictive food & beverage safety regulation in Ghana and beyond, and to
wide-ranging re-drafting of national primary healthcare policy. Ministers
of State have cited IMANI's work in explaining directions of policy; the
organisation's research has been referenced in the UK House of Lords, by a
High Court in South Africa, by the eminent Jamestown Foundation, and by
the Association of South East Asian Nations; and its thought leadership
has reframed the dominant trends in scholarship on China-Africa relations,
as well as reshaped the debate about the interplay of energy geopolitics
and the US-Africa strategic security relationship, as evidenced by
follow-on publications in the Asia Times and elsewhere.
Yet, IMANI's focus has not departed its core objective of training a new
corps of future visionaries and leaders who will carry the torch of
liberty and blaze the trail of prosperity in the coming dawn of African
renaissance. IMANI's continental seminars have catered to dozens of youth
from a dozen countries in Africa, and brought needy and academically
underserved students in contact with Africa's leading thinkers and doers.
In the most recent residential program, 60 speakers, comprising Army
Generals, CEOs, Senior Technocrats, and Academic Deans and Dons,
administered to 40 students, enkindling in these bright young minds a
strong desire to become champions of liberty, proponents of the prosperity
borne by strong markets and human rights, and principled advocates for the
rule of law and institutional growth here in Ghana and farther afield.
One beneficiary of these programs wrote: "you have fertilized my mind; all
my life I will bear fresh seeds of liberty".
To consolidate these public education objectives, IMANI intends to launch
a National Press Club in order to create a community of scholarship within
which journalists can improve upon their capacity to independently
scrutinise government conduct, policy and performance by drawing on
freshly acquired analytical skills and the mentorship of policy experts.
Furthermore, following Ghana's contentious presidential election, which
has left the nation deeply polarised, divided along ethnic and ideological
lines, and its institutions riven and rife with controversy, IMANI is of
the view that Ghanaian society requires a period of stimulated reflection
about the broad choices that faces it.
IMANI should be able to set a framework of discussion informed by
dispassionate, independent, and highly competent analysis conducted in the
public sphere by respected stakeholders representing identified
constituencies. A series of 6 'National Debates' is planned for 2009 with
the aim of bringing leading stakeholders together to brainstorm in public
view about the foremost questions dogging the nation-building process.
Our approach in offering a medium for the evolution of a critical
framework for national discourse has resonated so well with independent
observers, that IMANI is so far the only think tank in Africa to have won
the Templeton Prize of the Atlas Economic Research
Foundation twice (each time, beating around 180 think tanks across the
globe to it). It has since crowned this achievement with an Anthony and
Dorian Fisher Award. Such recognition is clearly consistent with the
notion expressed above that the organization cultivates a unique formula
One Templeton Prize Judge remarked: "I give them [IMANI] the highest
points for being most specific and rigorous in applying free-market
solutions to an array of complex social problems. Their submission shows
the importance of using rigorously derived, quantifiable research outputs
to gain credibility in shaping the policy debate.
Crisp, clear, compelling data is the most useful tool to provide to any
media outlet, and it's easy for the media to use, without interpretation."
It is without doubt always a testimony to the viability of an organization
if its members show excellence both within and outside its remit. IMANI
Principals have received awards ranging from the Ashoka Fellowship through
Marie Curie Scholarships to World Economic Forum accreditations, as well
as invitations to share panels with international leaders such as Bill
Gates Snr., Mark Goldring, Anwar Ibrahim, Martin Wolf, and Maat Laar
(former President of Estonia).
And yet how much more, and how far better, could we have done; what
greater developmental impact might we have made; and what greater heights
in scholarship we would have reached, had support been more forthcoming.
While we revel in our achievements, we are also all too aware of the
ampleness of our challenges. In the context of the above-mentioned four
thematic areas, we have initiated 3 major projects that constitute the
strategic bedrock of our medium-term vision.
Over the next five years, we aim to become the foremost authority in the
world on the unfolding Sino-African relationship, through the Sino-African
Virtual Institute (http://www.sinoafrica.org); the leading developer of research
methodology and practice guidelines for corporate social responsibility in
West Africa, through our upcoming ISBIX project; and one of the three most
prolific research houses in Africa working in the area of human security
as a function of market institutionalization, through our upcoming
National Debates project. Across these frameworks, public outreach will be
consolidated through AfricanLiberty.org, the publication/syndication
project run jointly with the Cato Institute, and the launch of Ghana's
first Research Journalist Corps.
Each element in this vision, upon critical analysis, reveal the extent of
work we that needs to be done . Lack of remuneration for adjunct and
research fellows is increasingly the organisation's ability to carry out
many original researches. The adjunct fellowship model has proved
immensely useful in the past, and two of our current full-time staff begun
their relationship with us that way. It brings into the fold talented
individuals who prefer the freedom of multiple affiliations in order to
nurture interdisciplinary excellence, and help foster useful and
potentially synergistic linkages between our institution and others. But
it needs to be sustained by means of a level of regular compensation for
adjunct fellows. Currently, Adjunct Fellows are rewarded on a ad hoc, per
event/program, basis that weakens the bonds of communal scholarship
required for genuinely groundbreaking work.
IMANI would also prefer to be able to encourage a certain degree of
specialization, in correspondence with the aforementioned themes and
projects, amongst staff using customized training and core competence
augmentation. However, the unavailability of long-term core budget support
has interfered with longstanding plans.
Donors and partners are currently being sought for the strategic vision
vehicles identified above (ISBIX, the National Press Club, SAVI, and
(National) Big Debates), hence consistent funding and support should prove
immensely crucial to the sound development of the organisation's long-term
IMANI enjoys healthy partnerships with a good number of organizations in
Africa and beyond, amongst these: Cato Institute, (http://www.AfricanLiberty.org)
Atlas Economic Research Foundation, International Policy Network,
Initiative for Public Policy Analysis, The Inter Region Economic Network,
the Free Market Foundation and the Liberty Institute, each from a
different continent. The next level for organizational planning would be
to enter into specialized partnerships with other institutions around
These kinds of relationship-based initiatives will clearly demand a
greater ability on IMANI's part to define and monitor strategically-shared
goals and visions. Technical assistance on this front would definitely be
Become a Member of IMANI
We are currently restructuring IMANI and we would like you to join and
recommend others as well. There are various levels of membership. Please
email IMANI's director of development, Bright Simons at
bright(–at-)imanigana.org for details. Please replace (-at-) with @
Please Donate to Keep IMANI Alive!
As per our Antony and Dorian Fisher award, the Atlas Economic Research
Foundation is prepared to match every dollar, cedi, pound, euro that you
donate towards IMANI's growth.
Please support institutional renewal, peace, liberty and prosperity in
Ghana and Africa today. Please send me an email
franklin(-at-)imanighana.com on how you would like to support us. No
amount is small. Please replace (-at-) with @
Thank you for your attention. Enjoy the best of 2009!