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From March 21-22, 2024, the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation hosted the “Two Day In-Person Leadership and Advocacy Immersion Program” at the United Hotel Mbankomo in Yaounde, Cameroon. The event brought together think tank leaders, experts, and key stakeholders from across the Central African region.

The program aimed to strengthen independent think tanks in Central Africa by equipping them with practical leadership, management, and advocacy skills to drive effective impact. Over the course of two immersive days, participants engaged in a series of keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities.

Kicking off with a welcome reception on March 20th, Prof. Emmanuel Kamdem, Executive Director of the Pan African Institute for Development (PAID), facilitated open discussions on “Building an Environment of Openness and Trust” – setting the tone for the collaborative spirit that would define the following days.

Day 1 commenced with a powerful opening keynote by Dr. Merlin Mfondo, Executive Director of the Nkafu Policy Institute, who shared insights on “Moving from Good to Great” as think tanks. A standout panel on “Engaging with Stakeholders” brought together experts like Mr. Aimable Manirakiza, Executive Director of the Centre for Development Great Lakes, Burundi; Mr. Alain Douathe Koyangozo from the Centre d’Etudes et de Recherche sur les Analyses et Politiques Economiques; Dr. Nguejo Thayoh Adélaïde from The Okwelians Think Tank; and Mrs. Aude Cuzon of GIZ Cameroon, to explore strategies for fostering sustainable partnerships with donors and meeting their expectations.

Multi-stakeholder Panel discussing strategies for fostering sustainable partnerships with donors.

Participants also delved into leveraging emerging technologies through a keynote and working group session led by Mr. Bruno Ittia, Deputy Director of Communications at the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation. Organizational decision-making, communication strategies, and growing effective managers were other key topics addressed through insightful panel discussions and workshops.

Day 2 kicked off with a focus on emotional intelligence, a cornerstone of effective leadership. Dr. Vera Kum’s keynote and working group shed light on this critical aspect. The day’s highlights included a panel on “Leading Advocacy for Greater Impact” and the highly anticipated Nkafu Debate on “Strong Leaders are Needed for Peace and Security in Central Africa.” The latter sparked a lively discourse, drawing perspectives from Dr. Ekassi Amelie Aristelle, Mr. Damien Mouzoun, and Mr. Anthony Antem.

Nkafu Debate on “Strong Leaders are Needed for Peace and Security in Central Africa

Throughout the program, participants had ample opportunities to network, exchange knowledge, and share experiences, fostering a collaborative environment conducive to growth and learning. In her closing remarks, Dr. Yollande Meli Tankeu, Economic Policy Analyst at the Nkafu Policy Institute, provided a captivating recap of the event, encapsulating the emotions, insights, and takeaways from the two-day immersion.

As the event drew to a close, Dr. Merlin Mfondo, Executive Director of the Nkafu Policy Institute, delivered inspiring closing remarks, underscoring the significance of the program in shaping the future of governance and policy advocacy in the Central African region.

The Leadership and Advocacy Immersion Program exemplified the Denis & Lenora Foretia Foundation’s commitment to empowering think tanks and cultivating a network of influential leaders dedicated to driving positive change in Central Africa.