I like the initiatives like the Africa Evidence Leadership Award. I personally encouraged policy-makers in Africa to apply for the award because I worked with public agencies in Africa (Ghana) as an independent consultant. I use [the Network] more as a reference for work rather than a linking service, although it would be a great use of the network for sure.
Without the AEN network, as an evidence synthesis person, you'd feel quite isolated; it's a privilege to be able to call someone up for info.
I’m going to take a specific stance: there are many people from the first world [EIDM] organisations that we can touch base with but it's useful to have more of a context that we can identify with from an African perspective. Because we share context and similar structures that we need to go through for policy changes. The AEN was quite instrumental in making linkages between us and similar projects (projects in Ethiopia and Ghana).
I’ve been working in the region for 35 years. I attend these conferences [like Evidence] to reinforce and maintain building relationships and to help others who are new to the field. The AEN provides a space and a mechanism to facilitate these connections and that's a crucial value…The way the Network is operating means that it has the respect of senior people who want to invest in it.
A network exists as a connective tissue to share knowledge and information, which is dependent on convening space to transfer skill. The AEN has gotten this right – they put out the best two-page newsletter in the industry.
At that meeting [Evidence 2016], I met so many people and I learnt a lot about EIDM. I had already started to establish the college of medicine but attending the conference gave me a boost to move on establishing this unit.