Scotland Africa Directory

Introduction

Kenneth and Pravina King

Background and rationale Scotland is proud to have had a long and distinguished history of missionary, NGO, educational and commercial connections with Africa. In addition, many Scots migrated to many parts of Africa, from Kenya, to Zambia, from Zimbabwe to South Africa, and from Ghana to Malawi; and thus there are many family connections to the Continent. There are also a significant number of Africans who have decided to make Scotland their home.

This Directory is a resource of Scotland's African links. It is not a directory of individual connections with Africa. That would be an enormous undertaking, as there are, arguably, a larger proportion of Scots involved in charitable and other actions relating to Africa than there are in several other parts of the UK. When, for example, the Centre of African Studies of the University of Edinburgh researched the individual academic expertise on Africa in the universities of Scotland in 1997, it found that no less than 250 academics had their priority research interests in Africa.1

This Directory, therefore, covers institutions which claim to have substantive connections with Africa. But this is not a directory of academic connections, though almost all of the Scottish universities are represented here. It also covers a large number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), but it also illustrates some of Scotland's commercial, consultancy and business connections with Africa, as well as links supported by the public sector.

Scotland has historically had a much smaller African diaspora than the main urban centres in England. Nevertheless, it was thought important to try and identify those institutions in Scotland which seek to provide support to Africans who have decided to study, work and settle in Scotland. Notable here are the societies which seek to connect Africans in Scotland with ongoing debates about their countries of origin. This is most evident in the Scottish societies that connect issues on Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe with what is happening in those countries at the moment. But there are also organisations such as the Africa Centre which have a wider continental or Pan-African concern. The directory does not have a complete set of entries of all the groups operating in Scotland, but information on them is always welcome and an attempt to add them to the directory will be made.

Methodology and coverage Given the range of potential organisations that we felt should be included in such a directory, we used a whole series of different networks and data bases to encourage participation. It will be known to researchers who have sought to develop this kind of directory that email or postal inquiries on their own can be largely unsuccessful. They may often result in a coverage of just 10% of those who have been approached. It was therefore necessary to combine email inquiries with personal follow-up by phone. Given the sheer quantity of email that many institutions receive, it was necessary, on some occasions, to send repeated requests by email and follow-ups by phone.

Despite this wide-ranging approach, there remain a number of institutions from which we have not been able yet to secure an entry. Perhaps the existence of this Directory will encourage these other institutions to ask to be included.2

The coverage of the Directory at the moment is over 200 individual institutions. The Scottish Government felt that the focus should be Sub-Saharan Africa.

Using the Directory The Directory is designed to assist searches that will allow a focus by type of organisation, topic or by country. Thus someone interested in HIV AIDS in general can pursue that; equally someone interested in Education in a single country such as Kenya can pursue that.

Within any individual entry, the purpose is of course to give a summary coverage of that organisation's connections with Africa. This is likely to focus on one or more target countries, and on a number of key themes or sub-themes.3 In almost all cases, the searcher will be able to access the website of the organisation, a contact person and their phone number, so that a fuller investigation can be pursued. In some cases, e.g. the Scotland Malawi Partnership (SMP) or the Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland (NIDOS), the searcher will be able immediately to access these organisations' own web-sites, and thus have access to more than a 100 institutions in Scotland that have links with Malawi through the SMP, or with the 69 member institutions of NIDOS. In the case of several of the universities represented in the Directory, there is an overview entry which can be used as a way of rapidly assessing the institution's coverage of Africa, and this can lead on to more detailed coverage by particular centres, institutes or departments.

The coverage of a particular organisation is not intended to be exhaustive, but to be summary and indicative. In no case is the description of the organisation longer than 200 words.

Initiative and Funding for the Directory The idea for this particular Directory emerged from the International Development Policy of the then Scottish Executive, now Scottish Government. Discussions were held with the Centre of African Studies to agree the range and feasibility of such a Directory. Funding for the Directory came from the then Scottish Executive, now Scottish Government, through the International Development Fund.

Location of the Directory The Directory is located on the website of the Centre of African Studies. It is expected that access to the Directory will be entirely web-based. All those organisations which have provided information have of course been told when the site went live.

For any Further Information about the Directory
Please contact Pravina or Kenneth King:

Pravina and Kenneth King
P.King@ed.ac.uk; Kenneth.King@ed.ac.uk
Edinburgh
August 2008


1
See King, K, Lee, M. and White, B. Directory of expertise on Africa in Scottish Universities (Scotland Africa '97, Centre of African Studies, University of Edinburgh).
2
We are in discussion with the Scottish Government about how the directory can be sustained and expanded.
3
In many cases, the organisation concerned may have a focus on a single country, e.g. Malawi or Rwanda

 

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