ACBF’s support to the Ethiopian Economic Association
The 2013 Global Go to Think Tank Report ranked 15 think tanks supported by the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) among the top 50 in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Report, 8.97 percent of global think tanks are located within the sub-Saharan region. This compares to 1984 in North America and 1818 in Europe. Out of 6826 think tanks recorded, 612 are in sub-Saharan Africa. ACBF has been supporting the creation and the capacity needs for think tanks since 1991 when it was established. It has helped to create 35 and still supports 19 today. A recent evaluation conducted in 2013 by the Foundation states that think tanks in Africa remain a catalyzing element in the development of sound economic policy and economic development in Africa. This is true of Ethiopia.
The country, with about 45 percent of its population said to be living in absolute poverty, is one of the poorest countries in the world. On the United Nations Human Development Index, it ranks 170 out of 177 nations. But it can boast of one of the more successful think tanks on the continent. The credit goes to the Ethiopian Economic Association (EEA) which in 2000 established a research and training wing known as the Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute (EEPRI). Through the Institute, EEA has been able to make invaluable contributions to the development of the Ethiopian economy, particularly in the area of developing capacity for public policy making.
For instance, EEPRI as the Institute is known, was involved in the preparation of the first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) by the Ethiopian government. Some of its published research reports are a very popular source of information for policy makers, donors and the general public and also as references for researchers and university students. Its study on the evaluation of land policy in the country has made a lasting impact. Its findings helped to resolve some of the contentious issues on land policy and it was well received in government circles.
ACBF in 2000 gave the EEA a grant of US$1,030,000 to support EEPRI research activities in line with its mandate. The main objective of the grant was to address the need for research and policy analysis capacity since the capacity of the public sector and the universities to design and analyze public policy has been inadequate. The Institute did not disappoint.
The EEPRI has also successfully trained officials of some regional governments in the country on how to estimate regional income accounts, putting them in a better position to access grants from the federal government in Addis Ababa. Further research equally enabled the Institute to train government officials in the method to be used to determine the revenue potentials of the region. This makes it possible for the state to raise the amount of collectable revenue from local taxes.
To consolidate on the success of phase one, ACBF in 2005 approved a grant worth $800,000 as its contribution to another project whose total cost was estimated to cost US$2,953,419. The objective of this phase of the project is to consolidate the achievements during the first phase with the aim of improving the policy making process in Ethiopia for sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. It produced three annual reports on the Ethiopian economy, each providing detailed analytical report on the state of the economy.
Also, EEA/EEPRI produced 10 thematic annual reports on the economy, which offer insight on the working of the economy with recommendations on how to enhance its performance. Other publications are 16 Conference proceedings, 19 issues of the Ethiopian Journal of Economics, 11 Research Reports and Working papers. Each of these publications has become a credible source of information for all stakeholders. The database was officially launched in 2003 and is now available on CD and is updated regularly.
In recognition of its professional contribution in the area of economic analysis, EEA/EEPRI has become very visible in government established committee, providing technical inputs such as in the National Development and Trade Policy Forum, Committee for Developing Urban Development Indicators, Taskforce for Preparing National Poverty Reduction strategy Paper, Health Sector Development Review, and National Committee for Establishing Farmers Competence Consortium.