Catalyzing an Era of Concrete Action.
This theme aims to examine the current social, political and economic landscape in Africa and provoke more pragmatic ways through which African countries can reposition themselves in relation to these dimensions. The Conference will focus on how to move beyond the rhetoric and bring to the fore contentious organizational, structural and societal issues that are rarely addressed adequately, but collectively are key for the continent’s forward trajectory.
Intentionally daring, the theme aims to ensure that the 2018 Conference is actionable. Many an African countries have been subjected to blame for development, democratization and economic policies that fall short in their implementation process, which arises from an array of reasons. Our hope is that by discussing and delivering actionable approaches to tackling issues within Africa, Conference attendees will be able to contribute in meaningful ways as to how to fast track progress.
In the spirit of concrete action, the key resolutions of the Conference will be collated and passed on to key decision makers in African institutions such as the African Union (AU) and key regional blocks mainly as Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and East African Community (EAC). In addition, credible think tanks, civil society organisations, and public-private platforms across the continent will be invited to mobilise thought and resources towards solidifying the Conference outcomes.
- Environmental and Health care sustainability – This track will consider pragmatic ways to achieve innovation within the environmental and health care sector. In doing so the very real challenges of financing clean technologies, preventing environmental degradation and introducing sustainable policies in the face of climate change will be addressed without compromising Africa’s economic development. Is there a place for nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in Africa? In terms of health care, the associated healthcare challenges and health systems’ capacities to produce pragmatic innovative solutions to issues such as increasing population growth, urbanization and the upsurge in non-communicable diseases will be discussed. The question of how to achieve universal health coverage and the role of private healthcare will also be considered. Lastly but certainly not least the very real, yet oft-neglected, issue of mental health will be dissected given that it is frequently perceived as not only abstract, but divorced from healthcare conversations.
- Holding our leaders accountable: a look at constitutionalism and digital democracy – This track will explore the practical ways in which to hold our political leaders accountable through external checks (continental, regional organizations) or internal checks and balances (constitutionalism, credible elections). It is important to address this as we must guard democracy from unconstitutional changes of government, a principle of the African Union which has at times been reduced to rhetoric as the fresh case of Zimbabwe exhibits. This track will also explore the important distinction and pathway of moving from policy (what) to implementation (how). The track will explore the practical steps of increasing the role and opportunities for a new generation of young, dynamic people in political leadership and public office. Finally, the track will consider the very innovative yet effective ways ordinary citizens can affect the political process through means such as the rise of digital democracy and expanding civic space.
- Economic inclusion – From a national perspective, we will focus on improving the enabling environment for financial inclusion and the empowerment of women, young people and often neglected rural populations. We will also explore the very real contextual challenge of maximizing the potential of agriculture to spur economic growth. Continentally, focus will be on actionable regional integration in trade, travel, and infrastructure to buttress and enhance African nations’ collective and shared growth. In addition to this we hope to look at aviation in Africa. The African aviation industry, over time, has become a vital catalyst for Africa’s economic growth and social advancement. According to IATA (international Air Transport Association) figures, the world’s top ten fastest-growing air passenger markets in percentage terms will be in Africa over the next 20 years. The Aviation industry is not only reliable and profitable – but it also plays an integral role in facilitating business, trade, tourism and social interaction in Africa and beyond.
- Building our own African brands from the ground up – This track aims to explore the practical ways in which to enhance the business environment for innovative and socially impactful entrepreneurship to take deep root and contribute to the economic growth of Africa. From an individual perspective, we will attempt to isolate the practical A – Z of how Africans can build their own business and create uniquely African brands. The fourth industrial revolution of technology and artificial intelligence is also beginning to be utilized in very impactful ways by (social) entrepreneurs and some of these innovative and effective concepts will be presented. In addition to this the role of technology will also be highlighted and how it intersects with entrepreneurship. We also intend to address innovative, frontier and next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence (robotics, digitalisation, etc.), aerospace technology, fintech (cryptocurrencies etc.) and their role in the future of African governance, business democratization, the economy, jobs and (un)employment, security, defence and travel.
- Rethinking Education and skills Development in Africa – How does Africa rethink and redesign formal and informal education (secondary, tertiary and early childhood development), and the approaches to develop the right skills for the job market or entrepreneurship for the Africa of the future? There still persists archaic, colonially derived means of teaching, from impractical syllabi to outdated and inefficient teaching techniques. It is vital to address these issues in light of adequately equipping our school graduates for after school employment and also considering the emergence of new technologies in teaching. Another important aspect of education this track will consider, is the importance of African academia and thought leadership. Developing original African thought by Africa’s rich collection of academics – both on the continent and in the diaspora – is crucial as we start pushing their content about the continent to preeminent positions of authority.
- The role of the arts and media in encouraging public expression on social and cultural issues – The focus here will be on the use of arts as a means of questioning, critiquing and expressing views on politics and other pressing social issues in society. The track will also explore on developing, building, sharing and consuming content that is local and relevant for Africa, whether for entertainment, news or otherwise. In addition to this, the conference will panelists both in the continent and abroad to discuss how art and media can be used as a tool to change public perception in relation to the continent’s past and future.
- ___is (un African): Beyond race, ethnicity and gender – Addressing pertinent personal and inter-relational issues hardly receives the adequate attention they deserve, yet are equally important if Africa is to move forward. Under this track we have chosen to focus on issues primarily affecting women (gender based violence and the gender gap inherently present in business and politics); discussing gender non-conformity and the lack of acceptance and understanding within African communities.
This track will also address albinism, which remains a highly misunderstood issue in countries such as Malawi and the East African region. Albinism groups say that 90% of the people with the condition in Africa die before they reach 40 years old, as stated by the BBC. All these issues are an integral part of the need to reshape not only the image of Africa, but our own understanding of them as well.