All good things come to an end: Chronicle of last day at Agknowledge Africa Share Fair #sfaddis

I am now sitting at the penultimate session of the Agknowledge Africa Knowledge Share Fair - Focus on Farmers. I am sorry the event is coming to an end. The purpose of this share fair was to share and learn and I believe that we've achieved this goal. I hope that the fair has left a footprint in the hearts, minds and souls of the participants. 

Earlier in the day I attended the radio and telecentre focus groups. The radio session was a great example of the impact of the Share Fair. The room was packed with participants who before the share fair did not know anything about podcasting, podcasting/audio software and hardware. Three days later here they were showing us the audio files they have created, sharing tips on how to conduct an effective interview and discuss challenges of interviewing with the help of an interpreter and avoiding being lost in translation.

We closed the radio session with one of the participants saying: "YES WE CAN. I now know HOW TO."  That was such a wonderful way of finishing the session and showed the footprint of the share fair.

Often we are asked "what has been the impact of events such as share fair". The impact of these events are transformative. They change the way people work. They open your mind and remove the cobwebs in your mind and as a result you inevitably change behaviour which is transformative.

The telecentre session discussed issues of sustainabililty and how to generate local content. I think we came out of the session agreeing that we should rebapitze telecentres to "Knowledge hubs"  or "Service centres". 

On issue of sustainability, Paul offered some pragmatic advice on how to create a sustainable service centre, namely make sure:
  • your services are competitive
  • have a number of subsidized services so that you can keep your competitive edge
  • provide a number of free services - especially services that really add value and improve the livelihoods of the smallholder producers, smallholder farmers and rural people
During the session participants mentioned that farmers are willing to pay for information and knowledge which is relevant to them. Personally, I have a problem with that, as we should consider knowledge is public global good and should be made available free of charge. But I stand to be corrected.

The group talked about how in Africa the village experts do not recognize themselves as experts and this is one of the reasons why local knowledge is  not documented and shared. We talked about how Africans should exploit and make sure to systematically use their oral culture, their tradition of drama and songs to share local content.

One of the best reflections of this session was the fact that often indigenous knowledge is not valued and challenged by experts/researchers. This made me reflect that  it seems to be human nature to underestimate one's own knowledge, perhaps this is why sharing tacit knowledge is a challenge?

We just finished the small group reflection and learning session and have successfully summarized the footprint and impact of this remarkable event in a tweet. Stay tuned and we'll be tweeting them live shortly. Follow #sfaddis