Capacity builders celebrate: the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Africa's premier capacity-building institution, celebrated its 20th anniversary at a high level conference in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on 8-9 February. Our editor, Baffour Ankomah, was among the several hundreds of participants at the celebration. This is his report.

Author:Ankomah, Baffour
Position::EAC - Organization overview

ANNIVERSARIES ARE A TIME FOR celebration and stocktaking. How good or otherwise have the past year or years been? Could anything have been done better in the past year or years? How could things be improved to ensure that there is a brighter future at the end of the tunnel? This was exactly what the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) used its 20th anniversary to do, in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.


Over two days (8-9 February), several hundreds of African and non-African delegates--made up of current and former presidents, prime ministers, dignitaries, academics, public and private sector representatives, and bilateral and multilateral agencies came from far and near to celebrate with the ACBF and to take stock of what the Foundation has achieved in its 20 years of existence.

Though many Africans have still not heard about the ACBF, it was established on 9 February 1991 as an outcome of a partnership between African governments and the international donor community. Its main objective was to build, over the long term, a critical mass of professional African policy analysts and economic managers who could effectively utilise resources and better Africa's development process.

Today, 20 years on, the main job of the Foundation is to provide an integrated framework for capacity development in Africa. Its core mandate is based on four principles: the centrality of capacity to the development process in Africa; the critical role of a partnership approach in addressing capacity problems; African ownership and leadership of capacity development processes; and a systematic and coordinated method to the capacity development approach.



The Foundation's membership currently stands at 47, made up of 43 African and non-African countries, and three major sponsoring agencies--the African Development Bank, the UNDP and the World Bank- as well as the IMF which joined in April 2002. The African Union is an honorary member.

With headquarters in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare, the ACBF's portfolio comprises 238 programmes and projects in 44 African countries since its inception. Its total funding commitment is valued at over $350m. Dr Frannie Lautier, a pleasant Tanzanian ex-World Bank vice-president, is the current executive secretary of the Foundation. So, in Kigali on 8-9 February, the ACBF got down to business, celebrating 20 years of hard work and achievement, under the theme: "The future of...

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