ACBF: the quiet helper.

Author:Ankomah, Baffour
Position:AFRICA - African Capacity Building Foundation - Organization overview

There is an African organisation which has been doing good work on the continent for almost 20 years now, but not many people know it. Now you know - it is called the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF). In partnership with the African Development Bank, the ACBF organised an "African heads of state high-level forum on building capacity in post-conflict countries" in Tunisia last month. Baffour Ankomah was there and sent us this report.

It is amazing that an African organisation can do such good work while being little known outside its own circles. The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) will be 20 years old on 9 February 2011 but if you ask most Africans if they have ever heard of the organisation, chances are that the most charitable answer you will get will be: "AC what?" But it is surely not "Milan". AC Milan may be a leading football club in Italy and Europe, but Africa's AC is bigger and comes with a BF attached.


The ACBF is based in the Zimbabwean capital, Harare. It is an independent, continental, capacity-building organisation established on 9 February 1991 through the collaborative efforts of African governments, bilateral donors, and three multilateral institutions - the Aftican Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It was established as a response to the severity of Africa's capacity problem at the time and the challenge to invest in the continent's indigenous human capital and institutions.

A good 70% of the ACBF's finances come from the World Bank, 5% from membership fees, and the remainder from AfDB and the non-African members.

If your country is not a member, you had better phone your president and kindly ask him to join. For, because of the ACBF's good work over the last two decades, it has the privilege of being the only major African continental organisation whose diverse members are happy enough to pay up their dues and more besides. While the AU has been struggling for years with non-payment or arrears of membership fees, the ACBF knows no such frustrations.

Perhaps it is because of the "mission" and "vision" it was assigned at its founding: "To build sustainable human and institutional capacity for poverty reduction in Africa", and "to become the leading African institution in partnership with stake-holders to build sustainable capacity for good governance and poverty reduction."


Key roles

Since its founding, the ACBF has been playing five main roles: (I) Building and strengthening sustainable indigenous capacity for development policy formulation and management throughout sub-Saharan Africa; (2) Improving through co-financing and other networking arrangements, the channelling of donor support for capacity building; (3) Contributing to programmes for the reversal of the brain drain in Africa and encouraging retention as well as intensive utilisation of existing capacity; (4) Building capacity in key areas of the public sector and fostering the interface between the public sector, the development process, the private sector and civil society; and (5) Providing support (financial and otherwise) for regional initiatives in the area of regional integration and research training.

Currently, the organisation is involved in 233 projects and programmes in 44 African countries, covering six core areas: economic policy analysis and management; financial management and accountability; national statistics and...

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