Theme: “Partnerships and Network Management for Development: A case of ResilientAfrica Network (RAN)”

On Friday April 23rd, 2021, teams at the Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC) and Makerere University-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) held the RTAC-RAN Webinar. 

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) believes that partnerships and networks can be an effective way to work in development with many institutions and organization which are active and add value. Similarly, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) believes that leveraging partnerships and networks, knowledge, scholarship, and creativity could help build institutional capabilities and reduce vulnerabilities and increase development. Established in 2012, RAN benefited from USAID funding with support from the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) of the US Global Development Lab. RAN at Makerere University is the largest network of Universities in Africa. 

The purpose of this Webinar was to increase the capacity of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to convene stakeholders and governments within the respective countries to identify development challenges, for rigorous research and translation across the value chain. This Webinar was led by Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC) a partner to Makerere University-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) as part of the RTAC task 2 activities; developing and maintaining a pool of researchers in Africa and beyond. The Webinar was guided by the theme: “Partnerships and Network Management for Development:  A case of ResilientAfrica Network (RAN)”. Nathan Tumuhamye, RAN’s Director Operations presented on behalf of RAN and the RAN team joined in to support the online engagement. 

Subtheme 1:  How RAN engages with its network with a focus on; How RAN was formed? A case of the RILabs, University-level engagements, Regional level engagements, Engagements with US based Universities and best practices. 

Subtheme 2:  Network analysis focusing on; Benchmarking existing networks and how they have successfully worked and Leveraging on existing structures and platforms. 

Subtheme 3: Network management with emphasis on; Developing a working definition of a successful network (a case of RAN – examples of functional RILabs over and beyond 7 years, innovations that have developed into startups, LASER Pulse, RTAC, CTCA, AFROHUN etc.), Addressing interests and clearly highlight the roles of partners within the network, Crisis management approaches and mitigation strategies (case studies of TUSOME Buy-In, West Africa) and a sustainability plan for the networks (examples of how RAN has sustained its network – MOUs without financial implications, committing non-financial resources like office space, etc.). 

Some issues/questions raised during the engagement included the following; 

These are responded to in the recording accessible on;

Topic: RTAC Webinar: Partnerships and Network Management for Development: A Case of ResilientAfrica Network Date: Apr 23, 2021 

  • For network performance, it is key to decentralize functions, roles, engagements, etc. 
  • We have serious challenges of climate change, the recent rise in the water levels of Lake Albert has affected several protected areas, displaced people and brought about habitat change. What can we do?
  • Communication is key for the network yet some countries can take even up to a month long without internet for example hence important to use several other modes of communication including telephone etc.
  • Would a network become eligible to join another network i.e., networking among networks? How do we avoid mix up?
  • How do partners/network members access funds to implement network-related activities? Does each institution provide its own funds? How does funding impact what individual members can do or not in a network?
  • Is RAN only applicable for universities and teaching institutions as its members? or community-based organizations and individuals can as well be members of the network? RAN is open to all.
  • To what extent should you bring in/engage non network members to make sure they do not take you off the focus?
  • What is the process of one or an institution joining becoming a member of the RAN network? RAN Partners and or donors are cross disciplinary and from all walks.
  • Are there different levels of engagement set up to account for differences across partners (small vs very large universities)?
  •  We shared about the network being an asset in contexts of turmoil. Can you provide examples of how RAN has supported network members at times where their cities or countries experienced challenges?

Remain in touch and watch out for our next engagement-rich learning, knowledge generation and sharing opportunity.