AI-TV Seminar on Development Challenges and Opportunities in Africa
Södertörn University Campus in Huddinge, Sweden, May 2016.
AI-TV Network and the School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Södertörn University co-organized a Seminar on Development Challenges and Opportunities in Africa. The seminar took place on the 11th of May, 2016 at Södertörn University Campus in Flemingsberg.
The seminar brought together Ambassadors from Congo Brazzaville, Rwanda and Burundi as some of the keynote speakers. Attending the seminar were also representatives from Kenya Embassy, Tanzania Embassy and Mozambique Embassy. There were also researchers and students from Swedish Universities, experts with knowledge about Africa, and other interest groups. They all came together to discuss and share experiences on the current situation in Africa; its challenges and potentials in relation to development, trade and tourism.
The seminar was divided into the following sessions: welcome from the Vice Chancellor’s representative; a profile of Södertörn University’s engagement in Africa; a statistical overview of developmentaltrend in African and also presentations of individual countries profiles, including investment opportunities by the Ambassadors.
The seminar was streamed live on AI-TV Network’s website.
Africans must think big, act big and deliver big
A formal welcome speech was given by the Vice Chancellor’srepresentative, Professor Cheick Wagué, on behalf of Södertörn University. In his speech he said that the continent is profiling itself as a success development story and that Africa is at its critical turning point. He also mentioned that although the continent had witnessed decades of disappointing performances but recently, growth has been stronger which is an important factor and the foundation for the continent’s transformation. Ending his speech, he said Africans must think big, act big and deliver big and Africans themselves must never have low aspiration for the continent.
A profile of Södertörn University’s engagement in Africa
The moderator, Vesa-Matti Loiske, Assistant Professor at Södertörn University, presented what Södertörn University does in relation to developmental issues.
During his presentation he mentioned two major educational programs which were environmental development: a combination of environmental studies with developmental studies and development studies with a focus on social science/economy/political science/environmental studies.
Fred Saunders, who is also a Researcher at Södertörn University, presented what the University does in different parts of Africa.
Fred presented the following areas of research in which Södertörn is engaged in:
b) Cultural and Urban/Rural Development
c) Natural Resources and Development
A brief presentation of AI-TV Network was given by Ralph Tafon from Södertörn University who is also the presenter for AI-TV Network. In his presentation, he mentioned what AI-TV has been doing so far and that this seminar was the first ever AI-TV-organized major event.
Ralph emphasized that we do not pay much attention to issues such as corruption, famine etc. in Africa, as mainstream media are already good at that. Rather, AI-TV Network focuses on what Ralph dubbed ‘Trash News’, that is, news that mainstream media see as irrelevant. AI-TV Network sees such news items as very important, picks them up and puts them on the spotlight.
Ralph ended his presentation by encouraging the audience to visit the network’s webpage to get more information about what the network does. He also asked the Ambassadors and the different Embassy representatives present to contact AI-TV when they have any important event that needs coverage.
Utrikespolitiska Föreningen at Södertörn University
A segment during the event was the presentation of an organization called Utrikespolitiska Föreningen at Södertörn University. They both presented in brief what the organization and their interest in foreign policy questions. They encouraged others who were interested in what they are doing to join the organization.
Misconception about Africa
Another keynote speaker, Joakim Rådström from the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences – IVA, gave an overview of development situation in Africa. He said during his presentation that Africa is facing a very bright developmental future. He said although the continent has made some huge progress during the pass decades, there are still areas that poses some challenges to the continent. Amongst these challenges he saidsome were based on prejudices, ignorance and misconceptions about Africa. He added that these are some of the reasons that deter people from going down to Africa. He ended his presentation by encouraging the audience to visit Africa for themselves and get to know the different countries that make up the continent.
"Challenges as opportunities!"
The Ambassador of Burundi to the Nordic countries H.E Ambassador Pascal Ruhomvyumworo from Oslo, Norway, began the presentation of his country by outlining the investment opportunities and different aspects that needs to be stressed upon in Burundi. He outlined some major challenges and said that some of these challenges could also be transformed as opportunities in Africa.
H.E the Ambassador shared the draft from his presentation with us
"Congo Brazzaville has extraordinary riches that the Congolese
unfortunately don’t know how to exploit."
H.E André Hombessa, Ambassador of Congo Brazzaville to Sweden was invited to present opportunities and challenges in Congo in terms of development and investment.
As opportunities, the ambassador emphasized the following key sectors: Agriculture, livestock, fisheries, hospitality/ tourism as well as mining.
The country has a vast land for cultivation, with precipitation throughout the year. Unfortunately these expanses of land are used more for subsistence than industrial agriculture. Those who are mostly involved in this sector are women and within this domain Sweden’s technological know-how is much needed. Livestock and fisheries are also of great relevance in terms of development and investment.
Tourism and hospitality
Congo’s landscape, especially its natural tropical forests are of tremendous touristic value, but also serve medicinal purposes, thereby needing technological advancements in their exploitation for such a purpose.
In conclusion, the ambassador invited the entire Swedish population to Congo to enjoy both the fascinating beauty of the country and the formidable business and investment climate offered.
"The Rwandese model is simple but the impact is great,
what you see is what you get and you get it fast!"
The Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda, Sweden H.E Christine Nkulikiyinka, during her presentation, mentioned some of the great achievements that the country has made in recent years. She added that these achievements were based on a simple model of development, which she said were as a result of the country’s ‘home grown solutions’.
‘Rwanda's Home Grown Solutions’
Imihigo (Performance Contract)
The first solution the Ambassador mentioned was Imihigo (Performance Contract) which is a Rwandan tradition whereby every public official signs a detailed performance contract that has some measurable indicators and certain goals meet within a period of time. The targets are examined by an independent body. Failure to meet with these goals could result in the change of leadership.
Girinka (One Cow per Poor Family)
The Ambassador said Girinka, a poverty reduction program where each poor home is given a cow. This cow brings in nutrition and income to the family. Beside nutrition and income, the cow also provides soil nutrition and fertilizer from their waste to assist farming.
Another home grown solution she brought up was Umuganda. She said this was a tradition to maintain sanitation across the country. In this tradition, everyone takes part in the community work which involves different activities from cleaning, building homes for poor families. These activities are aimed at benefiting the whole community.
Mituelle de santé
The 4th solution the Ambassador mentioned was Mituell de santé. She said this was a universal health insurance for all Rwandese. She added that over 92% of the entire population has benefited from this program and the country has also experienced the sharpest child mortality.
The key sectors which are open for investments in Rwanda as the Ambassador mentioned were; Information and Communication Technology, the ICT. She said the country has provided the necessary infrastructure for this sector and now they are calling on investors to utilize the resources available in the country to develop them. Due to the increase in the energy consumption in the country, energy has become more demanding. for this reason,the Ambassador mentioned that the country needs some investors to upgrade the energy level in the country. She added that Rwanda also have some regional energy projects which is also an opportunity for Swedish investors. In the Agricultural sector she said the country has fertile land which is conducive for agricultural activities which also needs some foreign. In tourism she said the country has a breathtaking landscape, abundant wildlife history and temperate climate. She said the country has large potentials for investment in the sector and this is still undiscovered by the Swedish tourists.
Ending her presentation, the Ambassador said Rwandan has the ‘most efficient government in Africa and the 7th in the world’ and she added that in Rwanda, ‘what you see is what you get and you get it fast’.
Flight ticket winners
At the end of the seminar there were two lucky winners of flight tickets offered to the participants by Royal Air Morocco. As instructions from the regional manager of the airlines, a draw should be made at the end of the seminar and the winner should choose a date and one destination via Casablanca to Africa.
In the presence of the Ambassadors, key note speakers, Embassy representatives and the general audience, a draw was made and two students from Södertörn University won the tickets. Their information was sent to the airlines and they are expected to grab their tickets soon.
You want to be the next winner? Just stay tuned to our network and see when we organze our next seminar and the possibility to win tickets.
The seminar was a success and we later received quite a number of requests from the keynote speakers, Embassy representatives, researchers, students, the audience and also some from those around the world who were watching the event live from our website to organize a similar event in the future.
The outcome was that many students, researchers, Diplomatic heads of Mission got to know more about what the Universities engagements in Africa, the students got direct interaction with the Ambassadors, learned much about the level of developments in Africa and also what the continent can offer in terms of tourism.