PANELS

1. Winning the fight against poverty and food insecurity: The fierce urgency of now

SDG 1 & 2

Goals 1 and 2 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development reflect a recognition that poverty eradication and food insecurity are two of the greatest global challenges facing the world today and that both remain dispensable requirements for sustainable development. In Africa, the problem of poverty and food insecurity is even more pressing.

Sub-Sahara Africa continues to host some of the world’s poorest and hungriest populations. As official estimates show, despite significant strides, 42 % of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa continue today to live below the poverty line. In other words, nearly 1 out of every 2 Africans lives in poverty. In effect, there are more people today living below the poverty line in sub-Saharan Africa than there were in 1990.  In addition, projections for the 2014-2016 period indicate a rate of undernourishment of almost 23 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa.

This Panel will bring together various industry and policy makers in Africa to discuss some of the policy and industry imperatives that the fight against poverty and food insecurity entails. Panellists will be invited to share their experiences working on these issues in Africa and particularly what synergies and avenues for collaboration exist in their various sectors and industries. Relatedly, Panellists will draw out the interconnectedness between SDGs 1 and 2 and particularly how other sectors and decision making in other fields, such as climate action, trade, healthcare etc, intersect with and depend on the winning of the fight against poverty and food insecurity.

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2. Enabling Gender as a Catalyst for Inclusive Development in Africa

SDG 5 & 10

In Africa, women continue to lag significantly behind men in terms of educational outcomes, health options and risk factors, economic and other social opportunities, as well as access to policy making spaces and to other socio-political and economic decision-making processes. Even though so many of our African cultures recognize the role of women in the social progress of the family and of our societies, women continue to face constraints that limit their access to opportunities and public services, narrow their avenues for value addition, or diminish their recognition and benefits they deserve.
Today, Goals 5 and 10 of the 2030 Agenda recognize that an inclusive and gender-responsive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development offers an opportunity to achieve not only SDG 5 (gender equality), but to contribute to progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Among other urgent steps, this recognition means urgently addressing structural barriers, that inhibit women and other minority groups from pitching in, in the strive towards a prosperous Africa.
The Panel will intervene on the need to prioritize inclusivity and gender parity as instruments for economic efficiency and for improving other development outcomes. Also, Panellists will anchor the gender diversity conversation on lived experiences and compelling narratives on how to confront limiting attitudes toward women in the workplace and to change perceptions of women’s traditional responsibilities. Panellists will discuss what concrete steps have been taken and still need to be taken to remove barriers that prevent women from the same opportunities as men; as well as how can the playing field be levelled to ensure women and men have equal chances to become socially and politically active, to make decisions and shape policies.

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3. Rethinking Energy Solutions and Climate Action in Africa

SDG 7 and 13

Today, with nearly 1.3 billion people, Africa’s energy problems are no more dissimilar than they were over a decade ago. Today, one in three Africans does not have access to electricity. Power providers in the region are cash-strapped, suffer from aging infrastructure and are unable to meet the energy needs of a growing urban population and expanding economies. This is despite the fact that energy access remains a critical factor in all poverty reduction strategies and an indispensable piece of all efforts to achieve sustainable development.

Significant research has shown that by developing adequate infrastructure that provides consistent and affordable access to energy, the local communities can significantly improve their standard of living and enhance their economic status, for instance, through a healthier home environment, access to new productive activities and improved education. However, the endeavour to meet Africa’s energy needs must not be constructed at the expense of global efforts to address climate change and to ensure the sustainability of our planet and of future generations. It is critical to ensure that energy solutions in Africa are innovative and do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

This Panel provides an opportunity to engage policy and industry actors on the ways in which sustainability and climate change awareness are being mainstreamed into energy policy making on the continent. Also, it will create an avenue for constructive dialogue, especially amongst African leaders, institutions and partners by building a coalition of partners to support Africa’s transition to cleaner energy solutions; and to ensure that contemporary energy practices incorporate strategies to minimise the environmental impact of current energy options. Panellists will also highlight institutional practices and sector specific experiences in order to show the current challenges facing African countries desirous of making a transition away from less clean energy options.  The Panel will also explore ways in which industry players and policy makers can slink closely with key continental Initiatives such as the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI) amongst others in order to build synergies.

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4. Technology, Entrepreneurship and Development in Africa: Prioritising Innovation for Sustainable Growth

SDG 8 + 9

According to the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals Report, in order to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrialization, African countries must unleash competitive economic forces need to generate employment and income, facilitate international trade and enable the efficient use of resources. Similarly, the pathway towards a sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, that promises full and productive employment as well as decent work for African citizens depends on approaches that actively identify and encourage innovation and sustainable methods. Further, the challenge to build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation is particularly crucial for a continent that has 60 percent of its 1.3 billion population below the age of 35.

But how can various African states still battling with significant infrastructure deficits create ecosystems that nurture innovation and sustain inclusive and sustainable businesses? The Panel will consider how broader support mechanisms can be calibrated to ensure that inclusive business ecosystem initiatives are prioritized. Panellists will discuss their experiences in doing business on the continent, highlighting the prospects, challenges as well as how the new sustainable development imperatives impact their business strategies on the continent. Industry leaders and policy makers will also reflect on how economic opportunities and economic growth in Africa prioritises equity and inclusiveness.

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5. Music, Film, Journalism, Arts and Culture: Retelling African Stories

The history of minimising and mis-charactering African realities and the lived experiences of many Africans, of undervaluing or denigrating rich African traditions, culture, culinary sophistication, and doubting African agency, has for so many years coloured the ways in which non-African publics (academics, media, policy makers, civil society, general public) engaged with the continent. The vibrancy of Africa’s people is often reduced to ugly statistics that focus on only the doom and gloom, their lives and the authenticity of their joy diminished routinely.

However, the resilience of the African people continues to be reiterated with passionate force in African music, griots, films, painting, arts and culture. Through many different mediums, various African artforms, craft, practices, artefacts, creative strategies and social institutions draw on elements evocative of a long African legacy and cultural substrata to invent, challenge, and construct new imaginary artforms as well as to tell a diverse story of African resistance, autonomy, renewal and even endless contradictions. 

This Panel proposes to show how African artforms, however eclectic, can and are complementing the vision of a sustainably developed Africa and influencing global civilizational patrimony. Panellists are will draw on their work as well as on narratives familiar to them to demonstrate the continuing relevance of African crafts, practices and creative strategies to the mission to position Africa as a dynamic force in the international arena. Also, Panellists will reflect on how various synergies and communities may be created among various African artists and cultural projects in order to support the sustenance and production of cultural knowledge in Africa.

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6. Impact Partnerships and the Leadership imperatives for the Sustainable Development Goals

SDG 17

The history of minimising and mis-charactering African realities and the lived experiences of many Africans, of undervaluing or denigrating rich African traditions, culture, culinary sophistication, and doubting African agency, has for so many years coloured the ways in which non-African publics (academics, media, policy makers, civil society, general public) engaged with the continent. The vibrancy of Africa’s people is often reduced to ugly statistics that focus on only the doom and gloom, their lives and the authenticity of their joy diminished routinely.

However, the resilience of the African people continues to be reiterated with passionate force in African music, griots, films, painting, arts and culture. Through many different mediums, various African artforms, craft, practices, artefacts, creative strategies and social institutions draw on elements evocative of a long African legacy and cultural substrata to invent, challenge, and construct new imaginary artforms as well as to tell a diverse story of African resistance, autonomy, renewal and even endless contradictions. 

This Panel proposes to show how African artforms, however eclectic, can and are complementing the vision of a sustainably developed Africa and influencing global civilizational patrimony. Panellists are will draw on their work as well as on narratives familiar to them to demonstrate the continuing relevance of African crafts, practices and creative strategies to the mission to position Africa as a dynamic force in the international arena. Also, Panellists will reflect on how various synergies and communities may be created among various African artists and cultural projects in order to support the sustenance and production of cultural knowledge in Africa.

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