Leaders convene at the Africa Forum

What do you get when you put dozens of leading figures from government, business, education and the security sector in one venue for a seminal discussion on stability and economic prosperity?

Lively debate, insightful ideas and a commitment to cooperate are just a selection of outcomes from the recently-concluded Africa Forum on Business and Security.

Drawing delegates from at least 23 countries, the Africa Forum on Business and Security which was held in Nairobi on September 13th and 14th, has been an unqualified success.  The line-up of speakers included Kenyan Vice President, Uhuru Kenyatta who impressed the audience with an emotive speech in which he declared, “We are stronger than the challenges that face us,” and Arthur Rabjohn, the Chairman of the International Association of Emergency Managers who also had the audience enthralled with his contribution. The Forum covered several themes including Education, Skills and Training; Energy, Mining and Minerals; Information and Communications Security and Agriculture, Environment, Food, and Water.  It was in this latter session that Kinyua M’Mbijjewe, the Monsanto Corporate Affairs Lead in Africa asserted, “Farms must have incentives for business,” a sentiment echoed by Vimal Shah, CEO of the Bidco Group of Companies who said that Africa should strive to, “Move away from agriculture and move to agribusiness.” Other outstanding sessions included that on Resilience and Response and the Education, Skills and Training session where the directions defined by the speakers will resonate with people who are striving to promote eLearning in Africa.

Emergency response key to security

In this session, speakers pondered over several questions, including: Is security about demonstrating power? Is it primarily a matter of defence? Or is it about protecting people from the dangers and risks of their daily lives? The Response and Resilience panel raised and answered these questions in no uncertain terms:  Security is about risk management and emergency response. The panel made this point with various examples of approaches to safety and their positive or tragic consequences. Skills development, training, education, awareness and proper preparation must be intelligently and seriously combined in order to maximise response efficiency and protection. Moreover, one must show both flexibility and ingenuity to ensure a secure environment.  Security is therefore not about demonstrating power but about awareness and resourcefulness.

Auma Obama’s passionate speech

Auma Obama, Founder and Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation in Kenya, delivered an impassionate speech to the delegates of the Africa Forum on Business and Security. Her message was clear: Think globally; act locally. She underlined the necessity for local engagement and a change in the culture of passivity and despair to one of self-empowerment and achievement. She also emphasised the need to return to basics because true security is about securing the basic needs in life such as education, food and shelter. This cry for change, she said, was neither her words nor her voice, but that of the youth in her care who only strive for a better life, both secure and fulfilling.

Across the Continent, educators and eLearning experts are rightfully expending their efforts in implementing programmes that will enhance education and training. But it is nevertheless prudent to be aware of the economic and security challenges that impact all areas of life. Dr Harold Elletson, Chairman of the Forum organiser the New Security Foundation, said: “Economic growth is closely linked to security. And it is a failure to deal with today’s security challenges that could hold back prosperity tomorrow. Some of these challenges are peculiarly African; others are the same ones that face everyone. Some are connected to persistent problems; others are the result of frightening new threats that have emerged in our age of constant technological innovation and with the development of a wholly new global security environment.”

How have security and economic issues impacted your experience as an educator or eLearning practitioner? Let us know by filling out the comment box below or by joining the discussions in the eLearning Africa Facebook group and page as well as our community on LinkedIn.

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