Photo credit: Africa Centre for Evidence & Africa Evidence Network
If I close my eyes, I transport myself back to 2012 and the first meeting of the Africa Evidence Network after dinner in a hotel in Bangladesh. A group of us from Africa had independently talked our way into the Campbell-3ie organised event despite the focus on Asia. At the time there were no such evidence events in Africa. Together we dreamed of connecting a community of people across our continent who shared our vision of increasing evidence-informed decision-making.
Ten years later and we have what might well be the longest lasting, strongest and most diverse continental evidence network in the world, the Africa Evidence Network. This year the Network is celebrating not only its 10th birthday, but also its 5th pan-African convening of the EVIDENCE events. We now number 4000 individuals from every corner of the continent, including those working in governments, parliaments, universities, think tanks and more. Through all of our work, the connections we have made and the collaborations we have formed, we have made real and lasting impacts on the use of evidence in Africa. Over the last 10 years I have had the privilege of meeting so many of you, all dedicated individuals, and visiting many of your teams across the continent. We have learnt so much together on this journey. We have critiqued and debated, listened and learnt, met and even danced together. You have been, and continue to be, my inspiration.
Ten years on from that first meeting in Bangladesh and it is with great pride and some sadness that I am stepping down as Chair of the Network. Sadness, because it’s been an absolute pleasure to lead this extraordinary community of people, and pride because of all we have achieved. As the Network moves into its second decade I am delighted to introduce you to the new co-chairs of the Network. They will not be new to you.
First, Ms Siziwe Ngcwabe has been working tirelessly to lead the AEN Secretariat since 2017. Over this time, under Siziwe’s leadership, the AEN has advanced its governance processes, strengthened its financial sustainability and both responded to, and led, shifts in the evidence landscape on the continent. Siziwe is the ideal Co-Chair to take the AEN into its next decade. She will hold particular responsibilities for governance, management of the secretariat ,and curator of our next strategic plan.
Second, Siziwe will be joined by Dr Rhona Mijumbi. Rhona not only brings extensive experience of working within the evidence ecosystem in Africa, but also a vision for its future. Rhona is the ideal Co-Chair to work alongside Siziwe. She will hold responsibilities for the Reference and Advisory Group processes of the AEN in particular. As the AEN embarks on its next decade, it brings new leadership, ideas, and innovation to champion evidence-informed decision making on the continent.
I have committed to our new Co-Chairs that I will remain available to support them as they take up their new responsibilities. And I will of course remain an enthusiastic and active member of our Network because I truly believe that only together will evidence-informed decision-making become a reality on our continent.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in published blog posts, as well as any errors or omissions, are the sole responsibility of the author/s and do not represent the views of the Africa Evidence Network, its secretariat, advisory or reference groups, or its funders; nor does it imply endorsement by the afore-mentioned parties.