The first ever ‘KM4Dev African Community Week’ took place in the week of March 25-29 and culminated in an online synchronous event of three hours on 28 March 2013. In total 16 participants joined physically either from Addis Ababa or from one of eight other countries (Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Senegal).
This was the first virtual meeting connecting African KM4Dev members across the continent virtually which also offered participants the choice to ‘buddy up’ with another member to discuss various topics relevant to knowledge management for development in Africa and particularly to explore how to make KM4Dev a more Africa-friendly community of practice.
During the online meeting, paired members shared insights from their conversation on the buddying process.
Main insights from the buddying process
General insights about the field of KM for development
- Challenges faced by African KM4Dev members very much depend on where people live but generally KM4D professionals grapple with: internet connectivity, access to organized information, lack of awareness (among professionals) about the potential of KM and limited access to technology at the grassroots level.
Insights related to the community of practice KM4Dev
- The problem of understanding KM in general can sometimes be an issue preventing some members from opening up in discussions on the KM4Dev mailing list;
- Members are working at more academic / conceptual level but most knowledge that could be used practically in Africa is embedded in processes and practices of individuals and/or organizations – this needs to be unlocked;
- It remains very important to share development-related resources or findings (e.g. from recently completed research activities) with the African KM4Dev community, to keep them connected;
- Developing very simple, practical, user-friendly tools and information resources would empower people in the KM field who may have limited capacity, time and resources;
- Practical platforms are important for the KM4Dev community to help organize other ‘African KM4Dev Community Week’ related events in the future;
- We might want to consider a multi-lingual oral storytelling event as an online (or offline) meeting, as there is a strong oral tradition in Africa (even though it is difficult to generalize given the variety of contexts in Africa).
Suggestions for ways forward
- In order to change the way we mobilize the African KM4Dev community, we have to start changing our own attitude and e.g. contribute on KM4Dev platforms;
- We could communicate the value of KM as case studies (using evidence-based messages), perhaps not just text-based but also using videos;
- We have to strongly consider integrating oral storytelling in KM4Dev (African and perhaps otherwise?) community events;
- Ideally we should look for ways (and funding) to organize a face-to-face event in Africa, to develop relationships among its members;
- We have to start a conversation on the KM4Dev Ning Africa to identify a platform that works for most African members to continue conversations (e.g. a Facebook page might be easier to chat among all of us)
- It would be good to coordinate an overview of existing platforms (what works where and what is used by most members).
- We could have web gatherings of this kind on a more regular basis;
- Perhaps, instead of Elluminate/BlackBoard Collaborate we could then try out Skype or Google Hangouts for such online gatherings, as they are free and seem to work ok;
- Bring in more professionals from different disciplines;
- It would be good to have a smaller group identified to move this forward.
Practical actions and next steps
- KM4Dev Ethiopia group members will invite other members and professionals from other disciplines as well as KM4Dev network to join KM4Dev Ethiopia platform (Facebook group, Ning page) if they are interested and perhaps to join one of the next quarterly gatherings;
- Davide and other interested members would like to explore working on a living compilation of case studies and lessons learnt from concrete development projects related to KM and focused on Africa, to be stored on the KM4Dev wiki and to share;
Marc, Gwen and Vic (with support from Ewen) would like to explore organizing a dedicated issue of the Knowledge Management For Development Journal on Africa – as a possible prelude to launching a full Africa-focused KM4D journal;
More info and resources can be found on our wiki: http://wiki.km4dev.org/African_KM4Dev_Community_Week