National capacity for policy analysis and research: the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis


One of the challenges facing African governments has been weak capacity for policy analysis and research. To make up for the lack of local capacity, governments used to rely on expatriate advisers and a small group of experienced senior civil servants. In order to foster leadership and ownership of the development agenda, ACBF promoted the establishment of Africa-led think tanks which enabled indigenous experts take over the policy analysis process. During the last 15 years a series of policy centres were created in Africa to develop the required expertise, and the Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) is internationally recognized as a successful example of this initiative. KIPPRA is an autonomous public institute formally established in 1997 to take up responsibility for macroeconomic management and medium to long term planning functions and falls under the oversight of the Ministry of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030 (MPND).

Development results

KIPPRA played a critical role in the transformation of the policy-making process in Kenya by providing evidence and platforms needed to promote a broad consensus on key development priorities reflected in the Kenya vision document. Kenya has taken the leadership in defining its development agenda and the successful resilience of the Kenyan economy during the recent global financial crisis is a testimonial of progress achieved in economic management through participation of all key development stakeholders. Working through country-led systems can yield results as illustrated by the following examples.

Some major results include the KIPPRA-Treasury Macro Model (KTMM), which supports the Ministry of Finance in preparation of the fiscal budget, the Budget Outlook Paper, by running policy simulations and informing national development plans, and the Kenya Economic Report (KER) on the performance of the economy, which is prepared and presented to Parliament each year. Other contributions to key government policy areas include the concept paper for Kenya’s long-term development blueprint (Kenya Vision 2030), policy dialogue through the establishment of the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), and the creation of a Nairobi Metropolitan Ministry. The importance of KIPPRA can also be seen by the fact that KIPPRA researchers have been appointed to key positions such as the governor of the central bank.

Demand for KIPPRA’s policy research is widespread and increasing across government (from 5 to 13 ministries and agencies) and from national and international policy working groups (from 12 to 30 organisations including international institutions like the African Peer Review Mechanism(APRM). KIPPRA has produced approximately 200 publications
with a distribution of over 30,000 copies annually.

Enhanced performance

KIPPRA obtained ISO Certification for quality standards and services in 2010 and has been recognized as one of the top Think Tanks in Africa according to the annual ranking by the Global Think Tanks Program of the University of Pennsylvania. Some of the factors contributing to KIPPRA’s success include: (i) Legal underpinning by the KIPPRA Act (2006); (ii) Partnerships with the Ministries of Finance, Planning, and Trade and Industries, as well as the private sector and universities (all of which are represented on the governing board) have allowed collaborative research and expanded KIPPRA’s own research capability and contributed to the use of research results (iii) A research agenda established through assignments by government agencies and other organizations, as well as by its own research staff; (iv) Rigorous adherence to scientific standards and high quality research;(v) Maintaining high quality staff, despite staff poaching being a regular challenge; (vi) Financial sustainability based on long term financial commitments from the Government of Kenya and other development partners combined with internally generated funds.

KIPPRA is also contributing to further development of policy research and analysis capacity. Its efforts are mainly targeted at officers in government and at the staff in the Institute. One of the core programs in this area is the Young Professionals program which trains at least 10 young professionals each year.

Financial sustainability has improved over time through diversification of funding and new consultancy projects. KIPPRA’s internally generated funds have been increasing while that of donors has been declining. Should donor funds be unavailable for KIPPRA, its own resources and Kenyan Government support would enable the institution to sustain its activities.

Support to the capacity development process

National investments

The performance of KIPPRA and its continuous positive contribution to policy formulation and capacity building activities in Kenya has been instrumental to attracting funding from the Government of Kenya. Initially government support was slow, taking more than three years to take off. After KIPPRA proved its potential the government passed the KIPPRA Act to cement its commitment. The Government provided land for the KIPPRA’s campus and also committed adequate resources through the Medium Term Expenditure Framework. The Government has increased its funding to KIPPRA in three phases from 12% to 24% to 55% of the total budget, which is testimony to the Government’s commitment to and recognition of KIPPRA’s strategic role in providing quality public policy advice and in building capacity.

Development partners’ support

ACBF maintained its support to KIPPRA for over 10 years until the Government of Kenya took over the biggest share of KIPPRA budget. ACBF is a special type of ‘development partner’, an African institution that mobilizes Africa’s own capacity to improve development management. ACBF had experience in various African countries with the establishment of autonomous, semi-autonomous, and government policy research institutes, which was used to support the design of KIPPRA. ACBF also runs a network of policy research institutes in which KIPPRA participates. ACBF has played a catalytic role since other stakeholders and donors acknowledge the high quality of KIPPRA’s research products and contribution to policy making and analysis. This has enhanced the demand for KIPPRA’s services and the mobilization of resources as well as attracting other donors such as the European Commission which has been a consistent core donor for over 10 years.

Find out more

Please contact: Mr. Moses Ikiara (Executive Director)
Phone: +254 20 4936000

Year of publication: 
LenCD "Capacity: Results"

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