Oxford Africa Conference
These past two weekends, three MSc members from our research group were involved in successfully putting together the 2015 Oxford Africa Conference. The conference, which was held from May 22 – 23rd, is the largest student-led conference of its kind and brought together over 450 delegates for the event. The speaker line-up was impressive with the opening address being delivered by His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama – President of Ghana (http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2015/May-22nd/live-updates-mahama-delivers-address-at-oxford-africa-conference-2015.php). The theme was focused on Africa as “A Continent on the Move: People, Politics and Business across borders”. Jonny Liu (Conference Co-chair), Michael Onobote (Conference IT Head) and Melvyn Lubega (President of the Oxford University Africa Society) share their reflections on the weekend:
Day 1 of the conference featured enlightening sessions such as ‘Education Systems in Africa: Trends in post-secondary education delivery’ which was moderated by Judy Sikuza (The Mandela Rhodes Foundation). The panel session highlighted views on methods of how various African countries manage education content delivery and the institutional challenges facing the continent’s educational system.
The sessions were a wake-up call and stressed the need for a critical re-evaluation of the ‘Africa rising’ mantra which had taken centre stage in most Africa conferences. The sessions were a mixture of despair for the current state of many educational systems in the continent and glimmering hope for the vast potential yet to be untapped especially with the use of technology in enhancing educational delivery and learning outcomes. It was a holistic experience in those two days as various aspects of education, business, venture capital financing, literature and even entertainment were discussed and analysed leaving the conference delegates to challenge their pre-existing notions of the African continent.
It is also the first time in the history of Oxford Africa Conference that an Innovation Fair was hosted at the conference. The Innovation Fair brought 12 shortlisted innovators from all over Africa and provided the opportunity for them to showcase their latest innovation and business ideas to delegates and speakers. Rebecca Kaduru of Kad Africa emerged winner of the innovation fair with a grant of £1000 for her idea on empowering out-of-school girls in Uganda in the area of passion fruit farming through hands-on and curriculum-based learning methods.
The conference was a great success with lots of positive feedback received from delegates, speakers, media partners and sponsors. It was a great opportunity for us (Melvyn, Michael and Jonny) to participate in organizing the conference, and we are sure this will leave a great memory for us and the Learning and New Technologies Research Group.