updated 6/6/2006 11:01:28 AM ET 2006-06-06T15:01:28

The Ford Foundation on Tuesday launched an independent, African-led nonprofit that aims to give Africans greater opportunity to solve the continent’s problems themselves.

The Ford Foundation committed $30 million to fund TrustAfrica, which has been developed over the past five years and will now be based in Senegal’s capital of Dakar and governed solely by Africans.

“Africans need and deserve to have a greater voice in the international donor community and in development efforts across their continent,” Ford Foundation President Susan Berresford said in a statement.

Hope to chart their own course
The group described TrustAfrica as part-think tank, part-aid group — an organization that runs conferences on issues such as citizenship and religious pluralism, convenes meetings of scholars and artists, and helps African organizations improve their business skills.

“Instead of following the lead of external donors — or pushing an agenda of our own making — we help Africans work together to set their own priorities and chart their own course,” said Executive Director Akwasi Aidoo, a Ghanaian who previously ran Ford Foundation offices in Senegal and Nigeria.

The Ford Foundation said the group hopes to develop regional programs with relevance across Africa.

Last year, the Ford Foundation set aside $100 million to fund 18 foundations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, the Americas, Eastern Europe and Russia. The organization said TrustAfrica is one of the newest of these projects. It was previously called the Special Initiative for Africa.

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