News Release

Brookings Launches Africa Growth Initiative with Grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

September 30, 2008

The Brookings Institution today announced the formation of a new research initiative on Africa’s development challenges that aims to draw more heavily on knowledge and analysis of African researchers. The Africa Growth Initiative, established in part with a $5.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will significantly expand Brookings’s expertise on development policy in and towards Africa, and begin to build stronger relationships between the Institution and the African policy and research community.

The Africa Growth Initiative will conduct high-quality policy research and analysis focused on attaining sustainable economic development and prosperity in Africa. Brookings will bring seasoned and emerging African experts to its Washington, D.C. offices through two fellowship programs. Brookings will also explore the possibility of establishing institutional relationships with Africa-based research organizations, to develop a network of partners in Africa with which Brookings may pursue joint projects. These efforts are specifically designed to create strong and sustained African research capacity at Brookings and in the Washington, D.C.-based policy community, to inform and support African development.

“It is our hope that this initiative will allow us to establish a vibrant global network of knowledge, ideas and policy proposals through partnerships with African institutions, leaders and emerging experts,” said Strobe Talbott, president of Brookings. “It is time for Africa’s voice to be amplified in the global policy debates of our time, particularly as they relate to Africa’s economic and development opportunities, and our goal is to help foster the intellectual and research base to aid this growth.”

Under the new Distinguished Ministerial Fellows program, Brookings will recruit former African ministers and individuals of similar experience for a research tenure at the institution. These Distinguished Fellows will publish research and policy recommendations, and also collaborate with Washington-based experts on a range of analytical projects. Similarly, as part of a new Emerging Talent Fellows program, Brookings will host promising African post-doctoral scholars, and engage them in cross-disciplinary and policy-focused research on Africa’s most pressing development issues.

“This grant will bring African policy researchers to work in an influential U.S. think tank where they will be able to inform important discussions about development policy,” said Mark Suzman, director of policy and advocacy for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program. “It will also strengthen Brookings’s ties with experts and researchers based in Africa, and to lay a foundation for an ongoing and robust dialogue that brings a stronger African perspective to the forefront of important policy debates and discussions taking place in Washington, D.C. and across the African continent.”

The Africa Growth Initiative is part of the Global Economy and Development program at Brookings. Additional components of the Initiative supported by other donors include research work on governance, an annual forum on African economic issues, health policy studies, and research on regional private sector development and aid effectiveness. John Page, distinguished visiting fellow at Brookings and former chief economist for Africa and director of poverty reduction at the World Bank, is leading initial efforts for the initiative at Brookings. Additional research for the Initiative is currently in development by Richard Joseph, nonresident senior fellow, among others.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C. Our mission is to conduct in-depth, nonpartisan research to improve policy and governance at local, national, and global levels.