This series was concocted in a joint effort by Paul and myself, building on previous collaborations in 2012 before the birth of our group, the Sudanese Knowledge Society. We were in the planning of the KM workshop during 2011, and I had just obtained the contact of a Sudanese expatriate whose expertise was very important to the KM in Business component, Dr. Abdel Aziz Mustafa, a leading figure in human resource management and the development of the private sector in the region, in addition to being behind some of the early KM work in some of Sudan’s large corporates. Dr. Abdel Aziz was very gracious to accept our late invitation. He not only donated his effort, but also considered our bad financial situation and used his own funds to participate at the workshop. Dr. Abdelaziz assisted us further by introducing us to Paul Corney with whom he had worked for many years. Paul ended up a keynote speaker and a vibrant presence at the KM workshop in January 2012. He came back in February to speak at a workshop focused on KM for business organised by Elfatih Wadidi, a founding member of SKS.
To come back to the “orchestrated serendipity” that led to this series, let me briefly mention that the Sudanese Knowledge Society, since its establishment in June 2012, continued to work in collaboration with many of the entities that came together to organise and/or sponsor our important gathering in January 2012. This we consider is one of our strength, the ability to network and work with others, and value those relationships. Now 5 years on, this series builds on those old collaborations with the University of Khartoum, Future University, National Information Centre, and Morgan (now Morgan Zone), and developed new ones, the World Bank and DAM. DAM, that organises monthly forums for HR professionals, our newest friend, is the creation of none other than Dr. Abdel Aziz Mustafa. It was Paul who connected us back with Dr. Abdelaziz’s to learn about his new project after retirement, developing the HR profession in Sudan. Was it orchestrated?
In any case, thanks to serendipity, orchestrated or not, to our guests, Paul Corney (Knowledge et al) and Taha Osman (Nottingham University), who will be travelling from the UK to be with us. While Paul will be with us for the whole series, Taha --a friend of the SKS since the seminar on semantic knowledge bases he gave for us at the National Museum in 2014 will only be able to stay for the duration of the workshop. We are profoundly grateful to all the co-organisers and sponsors of the series events, and honoured that among them is Education without Borders who is the co-organiser of the Virtual Teams and Communities session that concludes the series. Needless to say that this series, most of all, builds on existing efforts by organisations who are working on the ground on the topics of this series. For example, Morgan has long worked on becoming an information content provider. The difficulties they faced to do that fuelled their interest in exploring the problems of, and relationships between, ecosystem and content, and eventually led to this collaboration.
We are very excited that we have global players in knowledge work among the co-organisers, like the World Bank, and important local institutions like the National Information Centre that has the mammoth task of taking us into the information age. From higher education, co-organisers include the University of Khartoum, noting the efforts of the Administration for Information Technology and Network that contributed to improving the global ranking of the university; and the Future University, which is the first higher education institution to introduce departments for knowledge management and knowledge engineering. The private sector is represented by Morgan Zone that is implementing appropriate technologies to expand telecommunication services in rural Sudan; and H.A.M. for Information Technology that is specialised in media and communication services. Complementing these important institutions and companies, the co-organisers also include smaller and voluntary-work bodies like EwB, DAM, and ourselves, SKS, who are concerned with the filling of those KE pillars, education, human resources, and the knowledge society, respectively. While the smaller bodies can be considered agents of change, it is the larger ones that can really make change happen, at scale and faster.
A possible future, say Sudan 2030, is a flourishing and inclusive knowledge society in Sudan as the result of an increasing trend of knowledge sharing and use in organisations and communities. If the discussions continue after the series about how a Sudan’s knowledge society can come about and what it should constitute, we would walk several more steps towards that desirable future.
Khartoum, 20 December 2016