From the over 150 candidates that applied to be Subregional Coordinator (SRC) of Prolinnova activities in Africa, the two persons selected by the Country Platforms in the respective subregions and the Prolinnova Oversight Group (POG) were Amanuel Assefa for the Eastern & Southern Africa subregion and Georges Djohy for the West & Central Africa subregion.
Amanuel Assefa is very well known to Prolinnova partners. He was the main founding member and the former coordinator of Prolinnova–Ethiopia (PE) and was the first POG member elected by the anglophone African Country Platforms (CPs). At the time, he had a leading management position with the Ethiopian NGO AgriService Ethiopia (ASE), with which he worked for 22 years after five years of working with the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research. As an expert in capacity building and project management, he has organised and conducted many training events and workshops related to Participatory Innovation Development (PID) and has always been highly interested in mainstreaming PID into governmental and nongovernmental organisations and institutions of higher learning. Also after he left ASE and joined the Ethiopian company Precise Consult International to manage a USAID agribusiness incubator project, he remained in the core team of PE. Since 2016, he is an independent consultant in agribusiness mainly for the World Bank and in capacity development in agricultural innovation systems for FAO. Amanuel holds a BSc in Animal Science (Alemaya University, Ethiopia), an MSc in Management of Agricultural Knowledge Systems (University of Wageningen, Netherlands) and a PhD in Agricultural Innovation Studies (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa). He played a key role in designing and formulating the Proli-FaNS proposal.
Georges Djohy is a member of the wider Prolinnova network (Yahoogroup) but will be new to most Prolinnova partners. Georges is a young professional in his early 30s who recently completed a PhD in social anthropology based on research into social and technical innovation by pastoralists in the face of environmental change in northern Benin. He has previous experience in network coordination as Benin Focal Point of a national platform on biofuels, which included promoting farmer creativity in using local natural resources in new ways to generate renewable energy. This was part of a subregional network together with partners in Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal. He has experience in policy dialogue with various stakeholders as part of a University of Parakou project on climate change and food security. He has just received a postdoctoral grant from the Volkswagen Foundation for three years of research into pastoralist women’s associations and livelihood diversification in northern Benin. Georges has an excellent command of both spoken and written French and English, and has published mainly in English (including his doctoral thesis). Now that he has returned to his home country after completing his doctoral studies in Germany, he hopes to be able to set up a CP in Benin, alongside his work as SRC in West & Central Africa.
Both attended the 2017 International Partners Workshop (IPW) in Tamale, northern Ghana, hosted by ACDEP. This provided an opportunity for the taskforces in the two subregions to strategise and plan together with the new SRCs about mutual learning, South–South mentoring and policy dialogue at subregional and regional level to mainstream PID into institutions of agricultural research, advisory services and higher education.