It’s the first time African Regional Centres of Expertise (RCEs) have met face-to-face and their initial reunion is taking place right here at the ELRC. From Nigeria and Mozambique, and eight other countries in between, RCEs have gathered to discuss the tricky work development on the continent.
The underlying motivation for this meeting – and indeed, the essential reason for the existence of RCEs – is the UN Millennium Development Goals (MGDs). This is the subtext for all the research and activities undertaken by RCEs around the world.
This particular meeting highlights a significant point in the life of African RCEs. “This is the first time we’ve had a formal continental meeting. Often African RCEs cannot attend the global meetings,” said coordinator, Abel Atiti, who cited funding and other more pressing priorities as hindrances to their attendance. “Everybody’s input is important”, emphasised Atiti, who is a former Environmental Education Masters student at Rhodes.
The aim of the conference was to share challenges and opportunities and to discuss strategies on how to collaborate, said Atiti. The three-day meeting touched on the spectrum of RCE principles and values, including: transformative learning, governance and management, collaboration and partnership and research and development. In addition to valuable discussions, a series of resource materials will emerge from the conference. The idea is that these materials will have a uniquely African perspective, serving RCEs on this continent in relevant ways.
Another intention in the meeting is to create a cohesive voice for Africa to take to the global RCE meeting in Oslo in November. “We’re trying to create a vision and asking, ‘where are we going?’ It’s nice for Africans to have a position,” said Atiti.