“Good News From Africa” – Session 1 on Social Development

VIDEO: “Good News From Africa” Session 1: Social Development

April 16, 2010

The Boston University Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future held an all-day conference on ‘Good News from Africa’ as part of its Africa 2060 program of research. The conference was held on Friday, April 16, 2010 at the Boston Law School and brought together experts from a variety of fields and from across the world and an audience of nearly a hundred to discuss different aspects of Africa’s longer-range future.

Pardee Center Conference on "Africa 2060: Good News From Africa," April 16, 2010
Pardee Center Conference on “Africa 2060: Good News From Africa,” April 16, 2010

The all-day conference featured four panels which focussed, respectively, on Social Development, on Markets and Economy, on Politics and Institutions, and on Society and Culture), a lunch keynote address, and a post-conference reception with African food and music.

In his opening remarks Prof. Adil Najam, the Director of the Pardee Center laid out the concept behind the conference and highlighted that the conference took a purposely broad and long-range view of Africa. He urged participants to take the future and the study of the future seriously in thinking about the things that can be done today to make Africa’s tomorrows better. Prof. Najam thanked the African Studies Center (ASC), the African Presidential Archives and Research Center (APARC) and the Global Health and Development Center (GHDC), all also at Boston University for collaborating in the design and organization of the conference. He highlighted the breadth and depth of African studies across all campuses of Boston University.

The first panel, on social development, was chaired by Prof. Jon Simon of the Boston University School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Global Health. Prof. Sable Dawit’s presentation focussed on the spread of peace studies education in Africa and analyzed the quality and number of such programs as an indicator of how educational institutions in Africa and taking on these issues. Prof. Richard Clapp, presenting on behalf of his South African colleague Dr. Leslie London, focused on pesticides and health challenges in South Africa. Dr. Nathan Eagle’s presentation looked at how cell phone technology has not just penetrated Africa but has become a major force for social good. He highlighted the potential of new technologies unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of the continent.

Each of the panels, and the keynote address, were followed by lively and engaging discussion sessions with the audience. After concluding remarks from the Pardee Center Director, a reception was held at the Africa Studies Center which featured African food and live African music played by Balla Tounkara, a master kora player from Mali.

As part of the Pardee Center’s Africa 2060 program, the conference also helped launch a number of Africa 2060 publications – including recent Pardee Papers on regional development in Africa and on narcotics trade through Africa, and recent Pardee Center Issues in Briefs on the changing perceptions about Africa, on obesity in Africa, on developing a resilience index for Africa, on Malaria in Africa, and on agriculture and climate change in Africa. A number of other Africa 2060 related publications are now in the pipeline and others will continue to be developed, including one reporting on this conference.

Papers and slides from the panels will soon be available here. Publications coming out of the Pardee Center Africa 2060 program are available here.