Special Reports – Africa Edition
2021 AAP Dialogue Series

Unleashing the power of a positive youth

Africa has the world’s youngest population. Young Africans, therefore, will significantly determine Africa’s growth trajectory and its overall impact on the global economy. In the last edition of the Alliance for African Partnership public dialogue series, the difficulties and aspirations of the youth were interrogated by youth leaders, researchers and other stakeholders. In this special report, some youth leaders are responding to the challenges.
PHOTO It matters who tells the story, and people with disabilities can best explain their experiences and what inclusiveness means for them. They can build a narrative of resilience rather than dependency. When those with disabilities do not tell their own stories, disability is merely a barrier to self-enhancement, hence, higher education institutions tend to have low expectations of students with disabilities.
PHOTO The talents and skills of young Africans can be channelled into productive employment and opportunities. Failure to harness this power, resulting in unemployment and underemployment of the youthful labour force, can feed disillusionment and spill over in social unrest. More work is needed to empower young people often hindred by inconsistencies in government policies, corruption and the looting of available resources by the elite.
In Kenya a growing number of graduates in the field of biotechnology are jobless. Despite a need for expertise in the field, the lack of university-industry linkages is one of several employment hurdles that should be tackled in economies across the continent.

Tackling race and ethnicity in higher education

Ongoing protests against racial injustice and systemic racism, still embedded in many societal institutions, have presented an opportunity to the higher education sector to discuss its role and responsibility in bringing about meaningful change at a historical moment. The Alliance for African Partnership, or AAP, brought together experts to reflect critically on racial issues that are affecting the African diaspora and university policies.
Racism in South Africa continues to bedevil social cohesion and presents itself in many guises and in many institutions, including universities. As one considers the recent dialogue, ‘Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity in Africa and the Diaspora’, one realises the progress in getting rid of racism within higher education in South Africa and abroad has not been as significant as one would expect.

The future of farming to meet sustainable development goals

Climate change, food security and natural resource degradation threaten sustainable agriculture, and are global challenges that could derail the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Against this backdrop, the future of farming was interrogated by experts reflecting on soil health and policy as part of the 2021 dialogue series by the Alliance for African Partnership, or AAP. The alliance uses the dialogue series, initiated last year, to increase awareness of African universities as knowledge leaders on the continent.
Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals is a global challenge, becoming acute in the face of climate change, natural resource degradation and diseases affecting humans, animals and plants. Experts will reflect on possible responses in a webinar on 14 April.
PHOTO African researchers need to intensify their engagements with policy-makers to ensure that the knowledge generated from their research activities is incorporated in government policies, and applied to enable the continent to achieve its development goals. While, in the past, uptake of research has been slow, the time has come for researchers to escalate their efforts in reaching out directly to governments and political leaders.
PHOTO The continued growth in student enrolment in higher education institutions witnessed across Africa over the past decades has been linked to an ongoing agriculture-based economic transformation. During this time, Africa has recorded the highest agricultural growth of all regions of the world, translating into reduced poverty rates, improved individual and household incomes and economic advancement.

Dialogue interrogates dimensions of global vaccine inequity

The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines across the world has exposed the stark inequalities between low- and high-income countries as they battle the pandemic. This has informed the choice of the topic, ‘The impact of COVID-19 vaccine inequities in the Global South’ as the first in the Alliance for African Partnership Public Dialogue Series. The Alliance for African Partnership, or AAP, is a consortium of Michigan State University and 10 leading African universities that collaborate to address global questions.
The world is facing a moral and ethical dilemma as the availability of COVID-19 vaccines remain concentrated in countries with the financial means to buy and distribute them while low-income countries, in Africa, in particular, are lagging behind. This is the focus of a global dialogue on the ‘The impact of COVID-19 vaccine inequities in the Global South’.
The global North-South divide on mass access to the COVID-19 vaccine demonstrates why greater collaboration is needed among governments in low- and middle-income countries to increase their scientific and technological capacity and produce more equitable access to intellectual property rights and cutting-edge research globally.
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