Reflections on the 11th African Evaluation Association Conference in Kigali, Rwanda

Megan Alianne Cooke
27 March 2024
The 11th African Evaluation Association (AfrEA) Conference in Kigali, Rwanda
GEI Communications Consultant Megan Alianne Cooke shares key insights from the peer-to-peer learning and knowledge exchange that transpired during the 11th AfrEA Conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

Megan Alianne Cooke is a communications consultant at GEI.


“'Made in Africa Evaluation'—a fledgling movement some years back—has made some formidable gains," said Candice Morkel, Director of the Center for Learning on Evaluation and Results Anglophone Africa (CLEAR-AA) at the 11th African Evaluation Association Conference, held in Kigali, Rwanda, in March 2024. "Beyond simply theorizing about what needs to change, at this conference, we've seen practical and empirical evidence that helps us address the often-hidden power imbalances in the evaluation sector, towards a transformative, equitable and locally driven theory and practice." 

The conference—"Technology and Innovation in Evaluation Practice in Africa: The Last Nail in the Coffin on Participatory Approaches"—brought together over 650 government representatives, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) experts, NGOs, academics, and multilateral organizations working in Africa to stimulate peer-to-peer learning, knowledge exchange, and a deeper understanding of evaluation best practices on the continent. 

Conference participants delved into emerging topics that are reshaping the evaluation landscape and discussions looked at evidence generation and its application in governance systems, the role of artificial intelligence, and how best to evaluate climate change initiatives. 

"Traditional evaluation approaches are failing to integrate evaluation questions related to climate change, environmental sustainability, resilience and adaptability," said Takunda Chirau, Deputy Director of CLEAR-AA. "While there is progress in formulating climate change policies and strategies, the implementation, monitoring and evaluation thereof remain a challenge.” 

GEI, and partners from the CLEAR centers in Anglophone, Francophone, and Lusophone Africa, hosted a booth at the conference and Canadian partner, the École nationale d'administration publique, joined GEI at the event. The CLEAR centers play a crucial role in strengthening national M&E systems by assisting in the production of data and evidence to better inform decision-making and adapt successful approaches. 

"There is an increasing openness to participatory and youth-led evaluation methodologies," said Lorena Mello e Figueiredo, Researcher from CLEAR Lusophone Africa and Brazil. "This signals a shift towards more inclusive and holistic evaluation practices." 

GEI is committed to driving positive change through collaborative efforts and innovative approaches. Together with our partners and stakeholders, we will continue to champion inclusive and locally driven evaluation practices that promote sustainable development and equitable outcomes across the continent.