Africa has earned a prestigious place at the heart of one of the UK’s leading universities, Queen Mary University of London with a think tank research centre dedicated to African research and development. The centre focuses on exploring and developing African led solutions to challenges facing the continent.
The centre which will develop and galvanise African based and led solutions to most of the challenges that face Africa will connect best talents in all walks of life and in every nation of the world including those in Africa.
Speaking at the Centre’s inaugural programme where leading academics and researchers in and outside the UK gathered to review the potentials and challenges of Africa as a continent, the Director of the Centre and Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, Nigerian born Dr Owolabi Bakre, stated that it was time the world including the big and powerful economic nations came to recognise the contributions of African resources, its economy and people to global advancement. Speaking further he said ‘’the Centre for African Research at the Queen Mary University of London will advance African solutions to African challenges. It will explore ways the full potentials of Africa and its people can be utilised for the growth and development of Africa through African led research programmes that will bring the best of the continent, its leaders and researchers into one room for solutions to the many problems that have befallen this important continent’’. He noted that many of the challenges facing Africa today are caused by external interference and poor judgment by people entrusted with leadership responsibilities in Africa. He further noted that Africa may remain subservient to the rest of the advanced economies of the world in this era of neoliberalism and globalisation if the continent fails to explore and develop its own economic, technological and political solutions using its best brains around the world.
Also speaking at the programme were Nelarine Cornelius, a Professor of Organisational studies at Queen Mary University of London, Prem Sikka, an Emeritus Professor of Accounting and Finance at University of Essex, Alex Cobham, the CEO of the Tax Justice Network, Barnaby Pace, a campaigner and investigator for Global witness, Jason Parker, President and CEO of Parker Randall international and Ali Soyode, the founder of the first Black ethnic television station in Europe, BEN TV. They all agreed that Africa has superlative economic and human potentials with abundant natural resources. In their different submissions, they concluded that Africa has been crippled by a series of challenges including interference in the continent’s natural and economic resources through colonisation, neo-colonisation, neoliberalism and globalisation by western powers who are often disguised as foreign direct investors. They also noted that corruption and mismanagement including abuse of political powers are the other serious factors that have affected the continent and its development.
While acknowledging that the human, natural and economic resources in Africa are the main factors for economic and political interference, the speakers also said that the time has come for Africa to design its own political and economic blue print that will enable it to dictate to the rest of the world as opposed to it being dictated to by the world. The director of the centre, Dr Bakre stated that the centre will take the lead in discovering, developing and advancing such practical blue prints through the contributions of Africa’s best talents and brains around the world.
The Centre for African Research Queen Mary University of London has opened its facilities for intellectual research and discourse, political debates and exchange programmes. This is in line with the university’s Centre for African Research strategic objectives to bring together the best of African brains and talents around the world including policy and decision makers in Africa.
The Centre has collaborated with African Broadcasting Network, operators of BEN Television to reach the heart of Africa alongside other notable organisations.