Monday, 4 June 2007

Ten ways to improve Africa-Europe information exchange

Brussels, 4 June. The following 10 lessons were drawn from a series of presentations, a world cafe session and a final chatshow forming the Africa-Europe Roundtable: Towards more effective Africa-Europe information exchange, communication, and knowledge collaboration.

  1. Trust - There was some discussion on the need for trust in collaboration. There is sometimes a mistrust of actors from the North and donors and a need to emphasise learning from the ground. It is often easier for governments to engage with each other at international levels than for local NGOs to get together.
  2. Understanding dialogue opportunities - New opportunities for a virtual dialogue are limited by access to technology. Many organizations use face to face dialogue linked with virtual discussions. Africa has the opportunity for NGOs to influence the African Commission through the forum organised by the African Commission for Development and Human Rights which is held prior to African Commission meetings.
  3. Realistic time limits - For effective dialogue and exchange, sufficient time needs to be allowed. There was a worry that too many exchanges are held with unrealistic time limits.
  4. Link to media - In order to ensure a wide audience, it is necessary to engage with the media. This was lacking in some of the projects discussed.
  5. Validation of content - It was argues that African research is not valued as highly in Africa as as materials published in the north. It is not jut an increase in locally generated information that will lead to it being read. It needs to be validated.
  6. Culture - In a survival economy, it is usual not to share information. Before introducing information exchange projects it is important to establish the local method of communication.
  7. Alliance capacity - Capacities need to be built to form alliances across different sectors and different actors.
  8. Imbalance between Africa Europe - Africa-Africa communication needs to be improved, direct communication is lacking and there is a need for much more peer to peer discussion.
  9. Competition - The exchange of information between Africa and Europe is hindered by the degree of competiton between actors. Wher national governments and donors may have been the incumbent information providerss, NGOs now innovate, collaborate and compete.
  10. New tools - Possibilities to exchange video and audio in electronic form and by internet change the nature of the exchange between Africa and Europe. Mobile telephone and voice over internet provide a new platform for creative opportunities to exchange information ideas and viewpoints.

Story by Chris Addison

No comments: