Theme: Africa and a World in Transition
The African Society of Cambridge University (ASCU) is pleased to announce the fourth annual ‘Africa Together’ conference, which will be held on Saturday, the 10th June 2017.
This edition of the Africa Together conference will comprise two parts: (i) keynote addresses by distinguished speakers at the beginning, during and at the close of the event; ii) a series of panels on various topics with distinguished speakers. Panels are structured as prompts/questions of critical importance to the development of the African continent, and in line with the general conference theme – each panel will engage three or four distinguished speakers.
Thematic panels include:
African Higher Education: old problems, present challenges, future perspectives
Description: The winds of transformation are altering the landscape of higher education across the world: the change from traditional standalone setups to increased institutional partnerships and research collaboration; the penetration of Information Technologies both in the dissemination and in the formulation of the core philosophy of higher education itself; renewed debates about questions of access to higher education and affordability; energized social consciousness in holding institutions to standards of accountability, and a host of other factors. Higher education around the world seems confronted with the ‘existential’ crisis of re-imagining its very raison d’être and way of being. What do these sweeping changes then hold for African higher education – challenge or opportunity? Can African higher education leapfrog its massive challenges of the twentieth century by creatively tackling and reinventing itself in light of these transformative forces?
Lusophone Africa: Economic Development and the Private Sector within the Portuguese-speaking African Countries
Description: In the mid-1970’s, Angola, Cabo Verde, Guinee Bissau, Mozambique and São Tomé y Principe got their independence from Portugal, marking the beginning of a long journey towards economic reconstruction. Four decades later, most of these Lusophone African nations have fallen short in achieving the projected economic development aspirations. With a foreign direct investment stock of over $USD 40 billion (2015) within the Lusophone African states, the role of the private sector has been redefined. The panel, consisting of leaders from the banking, consulting, and energy industries, will share insights on how Lusophone Africa can position itself to improve key economic performance indicators, and the challenges to structuring an integrated private sector partnership.
Governance and Rule of Law
Description: In 2011, the Economist published a piece tagged “Africa Rising”. In this widely-read report, the magazine alleged that in the past two decades, African lives have greatly improved. War and civil strife have declined dramatically; while democratic transitions are becoming the norm in more than half of the 55 African countries. Most importantly, the African economy is booming due to the emergence of start-ups and social enterprises especially in the fields of technology, education and health.
However, the recent case of The Gambia makes amply clear that democratic transitions are not a norm in all of Africa. There are still a few African countries where “democracy” is yet to be entrenched. Some of the questions to be address by the panel include: what does democracy mean in the African context? What strategies can African countries adopt to address corruption (especially diversion, misappropriation and embezzlement), and sit-tight syndrome? What is the future of the AU as a united front for African countries in the face of Trumpism, Brexit and the rising waves of nationalism across the world?
Life Science and Health
Description: Africa continues to experience a range of health issues which affect a large proportion of its population. Lives are cut short, individuals experience high levels of discomfort and pain. Access to medical facilities, be they preventative or curative, remains the privilege of the few.
Access to quality healthcare services could be made available to most Africa’s population, if less sophisticated alternatives are considered. For instance, health is considerably influenced by diet and we need to consider how best to increase crop yields and made food available. In addition, across Africa, there are more teachers than doctors and students than patients. The educated African youth has a role to play as peer educators for basic health problems and in engaging entire communities in establishing healthier and more habitable surrounds.
The panel will consist of experts from the various disciplines related to medicine and public health.
IT and Infrastructural Development in Africa
Description: Africa is regarded to play catch-up to the first world in terms of infrastructure and IT. Things are however taking a positive turn with great milestones in energy, IT and housing. In Africa, the mobile networks industry plays a key role in the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. They cover more than half of 1.2 billion people who lack access to electricity. Mobile technology can be used to increase access through delivery of mobile healthcare, education, energy mobile payments and smart energy metering solutions to people in urban and remote rural areas in the continent.
Investing in Africa, despite a World in Transition
Description: Sub-Saharan Africa is facing major financial challenges, despite hosting several of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The International Monetary Fund projects growth in the 45 countries will drop to its lowest levels in two decades because of low commodity prices, coupled with terrorism threats and humanitarian crises. The panel will discuss how Africa can reverse this trend and what the biggest economic opportunities are, as the world adjusts to an increasingly unpredictable U.S. presidency and a European Union that could change forever after Brexit.
Women in leadership
Description: The panel will explore the different obstacles women face in their quest for socioeconomic advancement in Africa and the solutions these women have devised to overcome these hurdles. In addition, there will be the opportunity to engage with the panellists, who have supported other women to progress in the continent. The development of the African girl through the impact of role models gives us confidence that a complex set of issues affecting women in Africa will reach resolution in the near future. Through the conversations in this panel, informed actions will be stimulated, which will hopefully lead to strategic proposals for how the diverse body of participants can better engage issues associated with women development in Africa.
*Panel titles are subject to change