STATEMENT ON “AFRICA DOWN UNDER CONFERENCE”
Members of East Africa Rising have noted with serious concern a poster advertising “Africa Down Under”.
Scheduled to be held in Perth, Australia, for September 2021, the conference showcases 23 white faces who are scheduled to serve as presenters for the three-day conference.
First, the absence of any African expert on the panel is execrable for a conference that purports to talk about Africa.
Secondly, members of EAR believe that any serious modern conference worth its salt should be more gender-inclusive by identifying women who work in the industry.
Third, perusing the programme, we note there are 5 sessions in total of meeting African diplomatic Corps in Australia. This is too small and too insignificant an attempt to reflect Africans in the programme. Diplomats will never offer a full and robust picture of their country’s resources against such an intimidating audience of white faces.
Fourth, two of our members have lived and worked in Perth and attest to Perth being a city that is populated by many Africans. How come it was not possible to make this panel reflective of African intellectuals?
Here are some of the concerned voices from across our membership, which includes Kenya; Zimbabwe; Ghana and many more nationalities of members who work at management and mid-level positions:
“I think this is a conference in Australia (showing the Australian map on the corner) and having heads of all Australian companies who are doing business in Africa or want to do business in Africa…so a strategy meeting..to which no African experts have been invited to…if this was the other way round the conference will be full of caucasian experts who will give us Africans ideas as to how to enter the market or do business in a particular way” (Ghana)
“Exactly! I’ve just looked at the website for that conference and it honestly looks so extractive but thinly veiled as “collaboration with Africa.” I don’t even understand what this conference is useful to Africa in any way.” (Kenya)
“Clearly the conference isn’t about “building Africa “ but rather Opportunities that can further be exploited in Africa.
Aussies are only looking into their best interests.” (Kenya)
“…It’ll happen in Perth. Perth has one of the largest African populations in Aussie (at least it did when I lived in Aussie).” (Kenya)
“So it’s targeted for the population in the location of the event? I would like to know, if you were to host an event that talks about collaboration with Koreans for instance, wouldn’t you be hosting the event in a predominantly Korean settlement?🤔” (Zambia)
“In the quest to decolonise the world reprentation matters. It’s not ok to have an all WHITE MALE panel discussing African exploitation” (Zimbabwe)
“I also noticed the gender imbalance (but looking at their website or the website of the organizer), it appears manels are a common thing for them.” (Kenya)
These African voices are no ordinary voices; they represent voices of professionals who have years of international experience in their respective fields. We are aghast at what looks like a re-visiting of 1885.
At a time when African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has commenced, this conference appears to be an egregious reminder of the contempt for Africans seeking the Africa We Want in Agenda 2063.
We believe even if you are unable to change the panel, you will not just take note of this statement but remember that Africa is on the rise and we will continue to call for greater participation and equity in every sphere where we are mentioned.
@eastafricarisng | +233.268.687.653 www.eastafricarisinggroup.org
About East Africa Rising
Established in 2014 as a sister initiative to the erstwhile “Africa in Focus” Show, the East Africa Rising group is borne out of the recognition that regional economic communities(RECs) can be positively-used to fast-track continental integration through comparative conversations on best practices & synergies between West, East and Southern Africa.
Currently comprising 144 members across 22 countries (across West/Southern/East Africa), professionals include journalists; lawyers; international development consultants; economists; AU staff; staff from regional institutions et al.