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Training programme for community relations practitioners in Africa

“Synergy has shown immense dedication to this programme, combining innovative thinking in developing content with excellent facilitation skills. Synergy brings a wealth of experience to our joint work, both at a strategic level and from a practical on-the-ground perspective.”

-Caroline Digby, Director, CSMI

“If mining is to realise its full potential for supporting socio-economic development in Africa, the industry requires deep capacity to manage relationships between mining companies and communities. We have found the Synergy-CSMI courses for industry professionals to be an excellent way of building that capacity.”

-Jon Samuel, Group Head of Government and Social Affairs, Anglo American

“Thank you all for your highly professional and exciting experiences of dealing with different areas of community relations. It was a very productive training. We can change our routine style of working as community relations practitioners.”

-Theophil Celestine, Senior Community Relations Officer, Kabanga Nickel Co. Ltd, Tanzania (programme graduate, June 2015)

Development of the first ever, accredited, training programme for community relations practitioners in Africa

Partner:Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry, University of Witwatersrand
Country:South Africa
Sector: Education
Services partner used:Training
Our expertise: Thought leadership, on-the-ground knowledge of issues, expertise in developing training material, partnerships, workshop facilitation, working knowledge of latest industry trends

Project description

Synergy, in partnership with the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry (CSMI) of the University of Witwatersrand, developed and produced the very first accredited course of its kind in Africa: the Community Relations Practice in the Extractive Industry programme.

This programme seeks to address the need for capacity and professional skills in community relations within the industry. It is aimed at professionals around Africa from extractive industry operations, governments, NGOs, community-based organisations and more. The programme consists of four short courses accredited by the University of Witwatersrand and the Engineering Council of South Africa for Continued Professional Development (CPD) points. The short courses are:

  • Understanding your context, impacts and risks
  • Developing and maintaining stakeholder relations
  • Managing community impacts
  • Management of community benefits and partnerships

The course is at qualification Level 6 on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) (diploma or advanced certificate level requiring a high level of professional knowledge).

Successful completion of any individual course results in a Certificate of Competence in that topic, while successful completion of all four courses results in a Certificate of Competence in Community Relations Practice within the Extractive Industry.


  • An ongoing partnership with CSMI at the University of the Witwatersrand;
  • Course and training materials for four 5-day courses using the latest theory and insights, and over 15 years of practitioner experience;
  • The successful delivery of context-specific adapted training for use in-country (Tanzania);
  • Successfully training more than 200 cross-sector professionals from over 25 countries across Africa and the world;
  • The development of a Community Relations Practice Network of Practitioners for the purpose of strengthening industry practice across Africa; and
  • Research that taps into the content generated from practitioners during training.

Key challenges and successes

  • Bringing together practitioners from different cultures, industries, professional levels and sectors to create a rich peer learning environment that seeks to strengthen community relations practice in Africa.
  • Establishing a multi-disciplinary training delivery business that simultaneously taps into the academic strengths of CSMI as well as the breadth of experience of practitioners at Synergy.
  • Adding to the discourse of African community relations practice through the voices of practitioners who have attended the courses.