09.01.2009 Press Review

IMANI named Top-To Go To Think Tanks in Africa and Globally

09.01.2009 LISTEN
By Franklin Cudjoe

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

this possible.
Please take a moment to read how far we have come all on an annual

shoe-string budget.
IMANI: The Story So Far (

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

for success.
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 (; 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, 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, (

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

strictly-specified objectives.
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

also welcome.
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-) 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-) 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!