The Report of the Pardee Center’s ‘Africa 2060: Good News from Africa‘ conference was launched at a special Pardee House Seminar held on December 6, 2010. Panelists included Amb. Charles Stith, Director of the BU African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC); Prof. Timothy Longman, Director of the BU African Studies Center (ASC), and Dr. Julius Gatune Kariuki, Visiting Fellow at the BU Pardee Center and Fellow at the African Center of Economic Transformation (ACET) in Ghana. Prof. Adil Najam, Director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future moderated the discussion.
The Africa 2060: Good News from Africa conference was held on April 16, 2010, at Boston University and was organized by the Pardee Center in collaboration with the African Studies Center (ASC), the African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC)and the Global Health and Development Center (GHDC). The report of the conference is now available and will be launched at the seminar. The report includes an overview of the main trends discussed at the conference, short reaction reports to its four panels, and an expanded statistical section on development trends in Africa (download here). (Videos of the conference presentations are available here). The conference itself was part of a larger program of research at the Pardee Center on Africa 2060 which has also included multiple publications and different seminars.
In his opening remarks Amb. Charles Stith focussed on the challenges of leadership and based on his own interactions with various African leaders he stressed that the continent was beginning to grapple with the challenges of democracy and better governance. He pointed out that although many important challenges remain and while the situation may be uneven across the continent, the trends point towards a continent learning to deal with democracy and a citizenry that is bent on demanding a quality of life from its leadership, and through democratic processes.
Prof. Tim Longman built upon the same ideas and argued that the point of greatest hope for the continent was in the resilience and aspirations of ordinary Africans. He suggested a bottom-up approach to understanding the dynamics in the continent and said that we should learn to listen and see more attentively to what ordinary people in Africa are saying and doing. He also cautioned that there are many variations across the continent and that we should not underestimate the extent of the challenges. However, his overall message highlighted the vitality of the African grassroots and he pointed out that the rest of the world should refrain from imposing external solutions on the continent, as it has done in the past.
Dr. Julius Gatune Kariuki contextualized his remarks in the dynamics of the African economy and suggested that the structure of the African economy is different today than it was in the past and in particular the telecommunication and finance sector are leading the process of structural change in the African economy. He pointed out that although natural resources have been a major driver of Africa’s recent economic growth, it is not the only driver and the services sector has also proved to be vibrant in various parts of the continent.
Following the presentations the audience engaged in a lively discussion with the panelists.
The video of the seminar will be soon made available at the Pardee Center’s multimedia webpage.