Knowledge Management for Development Journal, Vol 13, No 3 (2017)

Knowledge management in communities of practice to improve results-driven development in Africa: A multi-faceted approach

Frejus Thoto, Thomas Munthali, Anne Francois, Barassou Diawara,

Abstract


The term "community of practice" (CoP) is of relatively recent coinage, even though the phenomenon it refers to is age-old (Wenger, 2011). In various fields and contexts, communities of practice are created to foster knowledge sharing and build capacity. In this vain, the African Community of Practice on Managing for Development Results (AfCoP-MfDR) has been created in 2007 to improve living conditions of populations through managing for development results. With a flagship project called “Africa for Results” – AfriK4R – totaling a USD 12 million funding since 2012 from the African Development Bank, AfCoP has developed a multi-faceted approach in managing communities of practice.
To date, seven (7) regional knowledge sharing events have been organized for approximately 5,000 members, regional bodies and governments; three (3) thematic groups have been established on gender, youth and natural resources for development results. Moreover, 50 online discussions have been carried out among MfDR practitioners worldwide on various topics, and 100+ knowledge products on MfDR best practices in Africa have been developed and disseminated. Feedback from members of AfCoP show that there is a great appreciation and utilization of the resources generated by the community in various areas, from university education to government policies.
This case study aims to show how a multi-faceted approach has been instrumental in designing and managing an Africa-wide community of practice around MfDR approach. It illustrates the combination of online and offline tools, physical and virtual approaches, to gather a large variety of stakeholders around key development issues. Using a case study approach, this paper provides practitioner’s perspective and lessons on CoP’s successes and failures in Africa’s development landscape.

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