Provide examples of African regional professional associations considered effective. What explains their success and what role does leadership play?
This report provides examples of professional and academic associations that work across three or more African countries, and that have some evidence of success. Types of impact are varied, but are usually identified as strong membership, attendance at national or international meetings, awareness of the organisation in the wider sphere, dissemination and uptake of publications, and connection or influence on policy and policymakers. The report particularly tries to draw out any impacts on governance in the wider public sphere, but most of the indicators of success focus on inputs or outputs rather than outcomes, and do not identify broader social or policy change.
Success factors identified in the literature include the following:
- The need for strongly committed individuals at the centre of the organisation. Many networks rely on personal commitment.
- Personal leadership is mentioned regularly as necessary in developing a network. Most networks rely on leadership by individuals rather than leadership by a particular country.
- Connection or involvement of policymakers is often cited as a success factor or key need for influencing governance outcomes.
- The quality of outputs is mentioned often by the health organisations, as this contributes to credibility and their ability to engage policy-makers.
- The two law societies in this report both cite independence and neutrality as important values for them, allowing professional development free from politics.
- Regional structures are highly valued in this literature as a means to share knowledge and build capacity, particularly emphasised in the health literature because international collaboration is crucial in disease management.
Browne, E. Effectiveness of African regional professional associations (GSDRC Helpdesk Research Report 983). Governance and Social Development Resource Centre, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK (2013) 11 pp.