“Most African leaders have shown great initiative in addressing the pandemic, and I hope this continues in the future and not something dictated just by the crisis,” these words by Mo Ibrahim, the Founder/Chair of Mo Ibrahim Foundation, a Keynote Speaker at the 2020 African Philanthropy Forum (APF) Conference, reawakened hope in us as Africans as we kicked off the event.
African Philanthropy Forum recently held a conference themed “Driving a Decade of Change“, which held from October 28 – 30, and covered pertinent issues on the Continent, including resetting Africa in the midst of a pandemic, achieving food security and engaging Africa’s teeming youth population.
According to Mosun Layode, Executive Director, APF, the conference brought together philanthropists and stakeholders from the private, public and social sectors from across Africa, Asia, Europe and North America. The resilience that Africans have displayed in the face of economic downturns, devaluation and economic crises came through strongly as speakers discussed strategies for shaping the Africa we want.
Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Board Chair, APF noted that “COVID-19 has ushered in a new normal – fundamentally transforming the way we live and compelling us to redefine our strategies and solutions to Africa’s most pressing issues. The scale and pace of change have inspired agility, collaboration, and innovation in responses to the pandemic. It is around these three areas that philanthropists, social investors, foundations and corporates must focus to drive forward discussions that affect transformational and sustainable change across the continent.”
During the three-day period, over 50 speakers who are experts in their fields, engaged 285 attendees and triggered insightful conversations and discussions, through an inspiring Opening Conversation, 5 Plenaries, 6 Breakout Sessions and 3 Networking Sessions. A critical point of discussion was the role of the pandemic in exposing the fragile and weak systems in our society and exploring how philanthropists can help implement the solutions proffered by experts.
”This is where the need to create a new framework for philanthropy comes into play, as well as the need to re-invest latent money.”- Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi, Executive Vice President, ACET. There can be no drastic change if philanthropists continue to work independently without leveraging their strengths. Operating individually in silos will only lead to short-term impact but collaboration drives long-term critical change. Given the dire prediction that Africa might be able to feed only 25% of its population by 2025, the impact of climate change on achieving food security dominated the sessions and conversations on the second day of the Conference.
‘Debisi Araba, a leading voice in the field stated that “Climate change is an existential threat to mankind. It is not just about the direct shock of climate change, it is the long term stretch effect that threatens people and their livelihood.”
Consequently, the sessions explored opportunities for driving food production and stability in Africa. For example, a holistic approach to increasing food production must address the hurdles faced by smallholder farmers which include, low economies of scale, access to technology, infrastructure challenges, as well as access to capital. More importantly, the impact of agriculture beyond food production was highlighted.
According to Kola Masha, CEO of Babban Gona, “When we think about the role of agriculture, it should not only focus on achieving food security but also gaining economic advantages.”
In order to accelerate change in Africa, it is imperative to address youth unemployment, a persistent challenge that many countries grapple with. On the last day of the Conference, speakers challenged philanthropists to engage young people on the essence of entrepreneurship early on in their life’s journey and create opportunities with philanthropic capital that help drive transformation.
Furthermore, CD Glin, President/CEO, US African Development Foundation, stressed the importance of creating a philanthropic environment that encourages collaboration, not competition.
In closing, the final plenary saw leaders in media engage in an exhilarating and insightful conversation on defining the African narrative and the need for Africans to fund the promotion of African stories told by Africans.
The speakers discussed the relationship between curiosity and funding, noting that the more we seek out African stories and narratives being shared across Africa, the higher the likelihood of attracting local capital. “We cannot change the news but as Africans, we need to figure out how to sift in feature stories that show that Africa is more than bad elections and famine. We have to be in the right places,” Moky Makura, Executive Director, Africa No Filter.
The APF Conference was a transformational three-day event that provoked attendees to move from actively consuming information to collaborative action that will drive systemic change in Africa and move us closer to an inclusive society where no one is left behind.
The African Philanthropy Forum is a strong and vibrant community of partners who through their strategic giving, investments and influence, foster shared prosperity on the African continent.
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