The Africa Evidence Network (AEN) is a broad community of nearly 3000 diverse people who share a vision to see an end to poverty and inequality in Africa. The Network’s mission is to work with others to contribute to this vision by increasing the use of evidence in decision-making. The Network is pan-African, open to all who live and work on the continent.
It is unique in its inclusivity and diversity in six broad dimensions. It spans i) all countries in Africa; ii) all sectors across the Sustainable Development Goals; iii) all spheres, including government, academia, civil society and all intermediaries; iv) the full diversity of roles within these spheres from members of parliaments to program managers to researchers; v) all elements of the evidence production and use cycle, from the generation of evidence to its integration into policy and implementation; and vi) all types of evidence from administrative data, to evaluations of all kinds, to experimental research, to citizen experiences and systematic syntheses of primary studies.
Our goals are to foster collaboration among those engaged in or supporting evidence-informed decision-making (EIDM) in Africa, increase knowledge and understanding of EIDM, share capacities across the evidence-informed decision-making ecosystem, improve the enabling context by promoting EIDM in Africa, and advocate for Africa’s full voice and participation in the national, regional and global movements to increase EIDM.
The secretariat of the Africa Evidence Network is the team based at the Africa Centre for Evidence (ACE). The director of ACE – Professor Ruth Stewart – is the chair of the Network and leads a multi-disciplinary team. As a research organisation, ACE is hosted by the University of Johannesburg and was founded at the end of 2016.
ACE’s mission is to contribute to the reduction of poverty and inequality in Africa and South Africa through the use of evidence. To achieve this goal, ACE aligns all its work with the Sustainable Development Goals and the National Development Plan of South Africa.
There are four strategic goals that ACE organises its work according to: 1) understanding the art and science of using evidence better, 2) building strong evidence capacities, 3) supporting meaningful evidence communities, and 4) producing rigorous and relevant evidence syntheses. These goals are progressed by projects within four portfolios that are aligned to achieving these goals: 1) The Art and Science of Using Evidence, 2) Evidence Capacities, 3) Evidence Communities, and 4) Evidence Synthesis. The AEN is one of the projects in the Evidence Communities portfolio at ACE.
As the secretariat to the AEN, ACE ensures its work is value driven. ACE is: motivated by making a positive, rights-based and socially-just difference; committed to equity and equality; focused on building trust and relationships; dedicated to sharing capacity and opportunity; respectful of others’ expertise, experience and perspectives; committed to zero tolerance for any form of discrimination, harassment or abuse; and unwavering in delivering high-quality work, on time, and to budget.
The current secretariat includes Siziwe Ngcwabe (operations senior manager), Nasreen Jessani (strategic senior manager), Charity Chisoro (programme officer: enhancing evidence capacities), Likhwa Ncube (programme officer: understanding the art and science of evidence-use in Africa), and Precious Motha (programme officer: building collaborations). This core team is supported by the wider team at ACE to execute the activities of the Network.
There are three parts to the governance structure of the AEN: the secretariat, the advisory group, and the reference group. The secretariat works closely with the chairperson to progress the strategic goals of the Network. The AEN advisory group consists of prominent individuals in the EIDM space both regionally and internationally. These individuals provide guidance on the strategic direction of the Network. Membership to this group is invited. The AEN reference group is made up of a representative sample of AEN members. Members volunteer to share their time and energy to review and provide a members’ perspective on, suggested changes within the Network. Any AEN member can apply to be part of the reference group.