The sheer size of the continent, with 55 countries, at least five regions, overlapping regional economic organisations and political bodies, make Africa as diverse as its peoples. For researchers to navigate these structures, to gain access to remote places or to have the language skills needed, is nigh impossible.
We, seasoned researchers who have worked in various domains and across Africa, know because we have run into these barriers. And along the way, we met local researchers, built teams and relied on each other to get the job done. We created, by necessity, an awesome network.
A network of knowledgeable, local men and women, with access where we had none, with a vast array of languages, skills, degrees. Healthcare workers, teachers, lawyers, sociologists - all assembled into a loose cooperation.
But the network is underutilised. We just do not have enough projects and our field people are eager to work. We'd like to give them more - which is why we have decided to (a) open the network to other organisations who need field expertise and (b) to new researchers in countries where we have a functional network.
The Africa Research Network is an initiative of Aries Consult ltd., a small dynamic research consultancy that specialises in social research, survey development, methodology support and monitoring and evaluation.
Based in Tunisia but incorporated in the United Kingdom, we are a group of associated researchers and technical experts who work together when we have a common goal; the rest of the time we are just friends.
The network we have built is the fruit of that collaboration. The seed was planted; now the tree keeps on growing!