There’s a famous line in Moliere’s play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme where the lead character expresses both surprise and pleasure at his discovery that he has “been speaking prose all my life, and [I] didn’t even know it!”
At the end of three days of intensive discussions, a significant proportion of the 300 or so delegates attending this week’s meeting in Dakar, Senegal, may well be returning home with the same feeling about the concept of “knowledge management”.
Some of the presentations to the 3rd Knowledge Management Africa (KMA) meeting applied the term to the new opportunities to put science and technology to productive use that are being opened by, for example, novel communication technologies (including both the Internet and mobile telephone).
Others, however, pointed out during the meering that in areas such as health and food production, finding ways of putting medical and agricultural science to use has been a central concern of development programmes for several decade.
But despite – or perhaps because of — the continuing lack of a precise definition, the meeting ended not only with a consensus that improved knowledge management, within both the public and private sector, is vital for Africa’s future prosperity, but also agreement on steps that will hopefully help this to happen.
One of the most concrete will be setting up of a new foundation, based at least initially in South Africa, that will seek to become a hub for Africa-wide efforts to boost knowledge management, while at the same time providing support for practical activities aimed at this goal in different parts of the continent (See story here).
Importantly, the foundation will provide a mechanism through which a range of African banks will be able to explore ways in which their lending policies can be broadened to include not only conventional investments, but also those aimed at building up Africa’s scientific and technical capacities.
(To be continued)
David Dickson, SciDev.Net