Collaboration Drives Innovation
The AfriAlliance project provided an innovative approach to bilateral cooperation between Africa and the EU, particularly in relation to water and climate actions. Stakeholders from both sides, including solution providers and potential users, needed to interact during the different stages of the innovation process to overcome knowledge fragmentation and, indeed, to facilitate the collaboration of African and European stakeholders.
To this end, WE&B, together with the assistance of the AfriAlliance consortium, undertook a Social Network Analysis (SNA) to provide insight into who has the power, influence, and networking-ability amongst the connected stakeholders within the African-EU context.
To achieve this WE&B undertook the SNA in a 3-step process:
1. Project Partners
The first phase included surveying the AfriAlliance partners and AfriAlliance stakeholders which are those organizations, authorities, and other existing networks that can influence – or have interest in collaborating – to advance water and climate innovation in Africa.
Identified 147 organizations; 467 connections; 16 partners of the AfriAlliance consortium
Through a bottom-up process, the second phase involved the local stakeholders who themselves provided input and, thereby, connected us to additional stakeholders; that is, a ‘snow-ball’ process.
Identified 280 organizations; 664 new connections
3.Validation and Further Consultation
The third phase consisted of a participatory validation process to (i) explain the map development; (ii) discuss the long-term sustainability of the map; and (iii) to update the map according to the participants profiles and knowledge.
Identified 623 organizations; 1666 new connections
The Social Structure of the Stakeholder Map
“With the world becoming increasingly more connected, Social Network Analysis has become a critical tool to understand these new interactions.”
— United Nations Division of Sustainable Development
To better visualize the levels of interaction among the AfriAlliance stakeholders and, thereby, summarise their structural characteristics, We used the SNA to map each stakeholder’s network. In particular three metrics of the SNA were accentuated:
- ‘Degree of Centrality’
Institutions are the best positioned stakeholders that can share or have information regarding climate and water issues in Africa.
- ‘Betweenness Centrality’
Those organizations that can speed-up the process of knowledge sharing and networking.
The multipliers/spreaders of information that can easily transfer/exchange information of water and climate issues to others in Africa-EU.
The successful interaction among relevant stakeholders is of principal importance when trying to address local challenges and provide effective solutions
The process of identifying and mapping stakeholders illustrates the effectiveness of the network itself. In Phase #1, for example, the AfriAlliance consortium was of great importance in the map, because they were positioned as a core element. Through the iterative process, however, the AfriAlliance partners became the central elements as they are, in the end, the motivators and organizers of the project’s activities. Even outside the AfriAlliance consortium, institutions have also emerged as key players.
Most African countries were represented in the network map, with the highest engagement from stakeholders in West Africa, Kenya, and South Africa. Of the identified stakeholders, 21 have offices in both Africa and Europe.
Types of organisations
The network map is made up of: business sector, scientific and research institutions, networks, national and public authorities, and civil society, youth and women groups, farmer associations, water and climate associations.
Who has the Power, Influence and Networking Ability in Water and Climate in Africa?
We analysed the connections using SNA to reveal that the top three knowledge hubs, i.e. those entities that are best positioned within the network and have built up confidence from other entities on their knowledge of water and climate in Africa and Europe, are the Water Research Commission (WRC), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and IHE Delft, Netherlands.
If you want to improve your network on water and climate throughout Africa, the best organisations according to the SNA to connect with are the Global Water Partnership Africa (GWP), WRC and the African Water Association (AfWA).
If you want to share information on water and climate in Africa and obtain a wide audience for your information, the top spreaders of knowledge are ICLEI Africa – Local Governments for Sustainability, WRC and CSIR.
Using the generated AfriAlliance Stakeholder Map and the results of the SNA, practitioners can now know who has the influence and networking ability in water and climate change across Africa and the EU and are able to:
- Know which organization is central in exchanging knowledge in water and climate aspects throughout the Africa and European continents.
- Know which organizations to approach to speed up the process of knowledge sharing and networking.