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African think tanks are to receive more than US$30 million in the next decade in an attempt to give them the security they need to carry out long-term analysis.

Some 24 think tanks will benefit from the funds, in an attempt to raise them out of reliance on piecemeal funding under which thinking tends to come to an abrupt end when the grant runs out.

Led and funded by Canada's International Development Research Centre with additional funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation, the initiative aims to improve policy-related research on issues ranging from climate change to food security.

"We have good examples with the food crisis and the financial crisis, where independent or national institutions were not present in the debate because they had no opportunity to think about these issues years ago," said Marie-Claude Martin, head of the initiative.

Sub-Saharan Africa has about 400 think tanks — little more than the number in the US capital Washington DC.