The Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) is a continental institute that seeks to address the short, medium, and long-term development challenges in Africa in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
MINDS emerged out of the observation that development efforts in Africa have failed to meet expectations with respect to social, institutional and economic outcomes in comparison to other regions of the world such as Asia.
Background and rationale
In most African states, it would appear that policy formulation and implementation could be greatly enhanced through the creation of an institution that is independent from government and political parties. Such an institution would be resourced to have capacity for formulating policy proposals for public debate in a non-partisan manner. Over time, governing political parties gradually lose the capacity and appetite for the robust debate that is necessary for the formulation of policies that are capable of underpinning the implementation of measures necessary for sustained development.
Most African institutions that are involved in policy formulation proposals tend to be official or public sector institutions. Two challenges arise from this ownership and dependency on public funding. The first challenge is how these institutions can, under these circumstances, take and maintain an independent and when necessary, challenging stance towards their paymasters. Secondly, if they are set up by the government of the day, then in all probability their staff will, from the very beginning, be chosen on the basis of their views being in alignment with the government of the day. In this situation, the value that derives from an institution that has a different perspective on issues is lost.
This justifies the establishment of a complementary and independent institution. The addition of an independent facet to policy formulation proposals and debate will introduce a point of view that should be value additive to public institutions work. The Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) established in 2010, emerged out of a simple and rather obvious observation that development efforts in Africa have hitherto failed to meet expectations with respect to social, institutional and economic outcomes in comparison to other regions. MINDS is an Africa-wide think tank which provides a forum for dialogue, information dissemination and networking, underpinned by rigorous research on the different elements of ‘Africanness’ in order to shape policy and practice on governance, economic development and the evolution of African institutions. It seeks to address the short, medium, and long-term development challenges in Africa.
The central hypothesis in setting up MINDS is that effective and sustainable development can only be achieved if development policies and practices are founded on the cultural heritage, value and knowledge systems and institutions of the people who are the subjects or beneficiaries of the development interventions.