Advancing Development Through Recognizing Research as a Public Good: Insights from the 9th Africa Think Tank Summit

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The 9th Africa Think Tank Summit, organized by the Africa Capacity Building Foundation in collaboration with the Regional Network of Agricultural Policy Research Institutes (ReNAPRI), took place from 8 to 10 November 2023 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka, Zambia. This Summit was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry (MCTI). 

During this significant meeting, Dr Nalishebo Meebelo, Executive Director at the ReNAPRI Secretariat, delivered a resonant call to reshape the perception of research towards acknowledging it as a public good. This admonition underscored the imperative for governments and stakeholders to collectively shift their perspective and recognize the broader societal impact of research on socio-economic advancement.

Dr Meebelo emphasized the intrinsic public good nature of research. Beyond individual or exclusive interests, the benefits of research extend broadly across society. She stressed the urgency of acknowledging and treating research as a public good, to unlock its full potential for societal progress. She said that research is as good as building a bridge, a clinic, school, or hospital, etc. At the core of her address was the interconnectedness of research, policy and practice, including the role of the private sector as the engine for economic development in Africa. Meebelo said that beyond its academic dimensions, research stands as a vital force propelling socio-economic progress. Investments in research initiatives can fuel innovation, inform evidence-based policies, and effectively address pressing societal challenges.

‘Until we all begin to see research as a public good, it will not be appropriately prioritized deservedly’, said Dr Meebelo. 

The 9th Africa Think Tank Summit was a resounding success. The conference theme, “Linking Evidence, Policies, and Practice to Support the Implementation of the AfCFTA,” was effectively addressed. The summit attracted numerous distinguished individuals from various sectors of society and around the world.