Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Your Questions for the Oxford Pan-Africa Conference Speakers

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This Saturday (5 May) Oxford University's Africa Society is running its 2012 Pan-Africa Conference: Building Capacity for a New Generation. You have the chance to take part and engage with the speakers, even if you can't make it on the day.

Think Africa Press will be running Google+ hangouts throughout the conference. This is an opportunity to get involved and ask the speakers your own questions. A Google+ hangout is a real-time conversation between 10 people. Here it will be one speaker, one moderator, and eight other Google+ users.

How to join

If you are a Google+ user and are available on Saturday you can join our hangouts live, just let us know in advance which speaker you would like to hang out with and tell us a little about yourself. We will be choosing eight people for each hangout. If you don't use Google+, don't worry, send us your questions and we can put them to a speaker on your behalf. Leave questions and hangout requests in the comments below, email us on, or send them to us via twitter (@thinkafricafeed) using the hashtag #OxAfr12 or via facebook. Please start your message with the name of the speaker your question / hangout request is for.

More details about the schedule for the hangouts, and how to follow them live online, will follow soon.

Schedule for hangouts so far (times are BST, 5 hrs ahead of New York (EDT)):

10.15 Vera Songwe

11.15 Matthew Kukak

12.40 Mary Harper

13:20 Gbenga Sesan

14.30 Sanusi Lamido Aminu Sanusi

15.30 Arthur G. O. Mutambara

16.30 He Liehui and Tebogo Lefifi


Vera Songwe

Vera Songwe

Vera Songwe is the World Bank Country Director for The Gambia, Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, and Mauritania. She joined the Bank in 1998 as a young professional in the East Asia and Pacific Region. She has worked on a diverse set of countries and regions including Cambodia, Morocco, Tunisia, Malaysia, Mongolia, and the Philippines before her most recent assignment as advisor to Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Sanusi Lamido Aminu Sanusi

Sanusi Sanusi

Sanusi Lamido Aminu Sanusi was named Forbes Africa Person of the Year for 2011 and was listed by TIME Magazine the same year as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Having been appointed Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria in June 2009, he has been conferred with the Commander of the Order of the Niger by the President of Nigeria and named the "Global Central Bank Governor for 2010" by The Banker magazine. An internationally respected banker, his writing has been published in numerous journals and books, and he is noted for his role in the development of risk management in Nigeria's banking sector.

He Liehui

He Liehui

He Liehui is currently the managing director of Touchroad International Holdings Group, a company born out of his first African business dating back to 2000. Touchroad, named one of the Top Ten Chinese Enterprises in Africa, is a truly multinational company, owning mining, factory, and subsidiary companies across Africa and having business relations in Asia, as well as Europe and the US. One of He's grand ambitions is creating a business platform for both Africans and Chinese, and he has already begun working toward this goal with the Invest in Africa Summit and the Touchroad Diamond Innovation Park Africa Center. And beside having received the great honor of "Chieftain" by the Nigerian government, Mr Liehui received an award for the "Ten Chinese Who Have Deeply Moved the African People."

Matthew Kukah

Matthew Kukah

Matthew Kukah is the author of the critically acclaimed work, Religion and Politics in Northern Nigeria since Independence (Spectrum, 1994), and most recently of Democracy and Civil Society in Nigeria (Spectrum, 2002). Having served on Nigeria's Presidential Truth Commission into Past Human Rights Violations, he is the Catholic Archbishop of Sokoto Diocese in Nigeria and a former Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria. He has been a Senior Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford University, and is a regular commentator on social and political issues in Nigeria.

Arthur G. O. Mutambara

Arthur Mutambara

Arthur G. O. Mutambara is the Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in 1991, and has been a leader in the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe. He has held numerous academic and business positions, including having been an Associate Professor in the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), CEO of Technology and Business Institute (ATBI), a director at Standard Bank, and a Management Consultant with McKinsey & Company Inc. Mutambara was a student leader at both the University of Zimbabwe and the University of Oxford where amongst other things he was president of the Oxford University Africa Society in 1992.

Gbenga Sesan

Gbenga Sesan

Gbenga Sesan is the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, which links Nigerian youth to ICT-enabled opportunities. He has been honoured with numerous leadership awards, including: the 2011 Cordes Fellowship, the 2011 Nigerian Leadership Institute Fellowship, the 2010 Santa Clara University GSBI Fellowship, 2010 Crans Montana Forum of New Leaders for Tomorrow Fellowship award, 2010 Our Common Future Fellowship award, and the 2009 OAU Distinguished Alumni award. His book, In My Own Words, was published by Imprimata in September 2009.

Patrick G. Awuah Jr.

Patrick Awuah

Patrick G. Awuah Jnr was nominated as a 2007 Global Leader by the World Economic Forum; and in recognition of his service to Ghana, was awarded Membership of the Order of the Volta by President J.A. Kufuor the same year. The recipient of numerous other awards - including the 2009 Microsoft Alumni Foundation "Integral Fellow" award and the Aspen Institute John P. McNulty Prize for creative, effective and lasting leadership - he is the Founder and President of Ashesi University College, a private, not-for-profit institution that has quickly gained a reputation for innovation and quality education in Ghana.

Tebogo Lefifi

Tebogo Lefifi

Tebogo Lefifi is the head of the China office for The Stellenbosch University's Centre For Chinese Studies, and is a founding member and executive chairperson of Young African Professionals and Students in China, a non-profit organization that provides a networking and information-sharing platform for African graduates and professionals. Nominated by the Ambassador of the South African Embassy in China to serve on the Board of the South Africa-China Business Association, she is fast becoming a key China-Africa specialist.

Mbong Madelle Kangha

Mbong Kangha

Mbong Madelle Kangha was selected in 2011 to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University for her project Young Entrepreneurs which she hopes to launch by the end 2012. Madelle is behind the blog Youths for Change, a platform which engages youth with issues facing Africa in particular and the world at large. She was also chosen as one of 96 young Africans that formed the inaugural class at the African Leadership Academy in after emerging as the top female performer at the Cameroonian GCE Ordinary Level Examinations in 2006. In her final year at LSE, Madelle continues to combine her studies with projects that seek to transform the world in innovative ways.

Mary Harper

Mary Harper

Mary Harper is the Africa Editor at the BBC World Service. She has reported on Africa for the past twenty years including from Sudan, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Algeria. She has a special interest in Somalia, reporting frequently from the country, covering conflict, piracy, Islamism and other subjects. She is the author of Getting Somalia Wrong? Faith, War and Hope in a Shattered State, and has written for several publications including The Economist, Granta, The Guardian, The Times and The Washington Post. She has spoken on Somalia, piracy, the international media, migration and other subjects at conferences, workshops and other events, organised by, amongst others, Oxford University, University College London, Medecins Sans Frontieres and the United Nations.

Ransford Smith

Ransford Smith

Mr Ransford Smith was appointed Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth in 2006. He manages the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation, the Secretariat’s development assistance arm. Mr Smith is the first Jamaican to serve as a Commonwealth Deputy-Secretary General. A career diplomat of nearly 30 years standing in the Jamaican Public and Foreign Service, Mr Smith previously served as Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Commerce and Technology, and also Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Investment. His diplomatic career has included postings at the Jamaican Embassy in Washington DC, as well as the Jamaican Mission to the United Nations in New York. He was formerly the Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the Office of the United Nations and its specialised agencies in Geneva, Rome and Vienna. Mr Smith was also Ambassador of Jamaica to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and served as Ambassador to a number of European countries.

Kingwa Kamencu

Kingwa Kamencu

Kingwa Kamencu is an award winning Kenyan writer and author of To Grasp at a Star. As a 2009 Rhodes Scholar, she pursued an MSc in African Studies at the University of Oxford. Having served as former President of the Oxford University Africa Society, she is currently running to become Kenya's first female president.



Hadeel Ibrahim

Hadeel Ibrahim

Hadeel Ibrahim is the founding Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, which was established in 2006 to support great African leadership. The Foundation is a leading voice on good governance in Africa and publishes the annual Mo Ibrahim Index, providing a comprehensive ranking of African countries according to governance quality. She is a member of the board at Carter Center UK, Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, Refugees International , the Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development (UONGOZI Institute) in Tanzania, and Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS).


For Vera Songwe: How have West African countries been affected by the economic events in US and Europe since 2008?

He Liehui: In Malawi, a Chinese NGO that is working with orphans is also making demands on them to learn 'kung-fu', learn Mandarin, and learn how to use chop-sticks.  Is China using charity as a guise behind which to purue a cultural imperialism agenda? 

Any more examples? Can learning new skills really be classed as 'cultural imperialism'? Is the NGO connected to the Chinese government?

 Mbong Madelle Kangha, It has been argued a lot that “Brain drain” is one of the key challenges facing Africa’s progress. Would you agree with this and what is the solution?

To Mary Harper - Can Somalia exist as a single state or is the country likely to splinter further into autonomous regions? 

To Arthur G. O. Mutambara - In a post-Mugabe era what are the prospects for lasting stability? Does Zanu PF have a succession policy? 

To Matthew Kukah - What connection, if any, does Boko Haram have to North African Islamist extremist groups?

To Vera Songwe - Why is West Africa prone to instability/coups? 

To Vera: How valid are the claims that Guinea-Bissau is on the brink of becoming narco-state and it would it be feasible to assert that the recent militray coup was orchestrated to ensure that presidential candidate, Gomes Junior, would not assume office and push forward with a widespread anti-narcotics initiatives.

To Mathew: In your opinion, has Boko Haram emerged as a result of genuine grievances among the allegedly disenfranchised Muslim North or is the Islamist group preeminence rather a result of transnationalist Islamist groups, such as al-Qaeda, increasingly seeking to establish a prescence in North and West Africa. Secondly, how much of a role does ethnicity play in the organisational structure of Boko Haram amid reports that the group is being plagued by infighting between members emanting from the Kanuri, Hausa and Fulani ethnic groups.





Question to Mary Harper:  The Seychelles portrays themselves as a DEMOCRATIC country where there is good governance and one of the best country in Africa to live in, yet there are constant claims of oppression, human rights violations(In various forms), nepotism and a day to day running of Partizan politics style of management where the people of the island lives in constant fear and gets intimidated by the ruling party personnel who goes round  the islands harrassing known opposition supporters on a daily basis whilst the country Head mingles with the powerful leaders of the world and gets grant (on the head of the very same people he and his clicque suppresses) to assist in combatting piracy(pocketing most of it) and fool the world with the semblance of complying and compromising to slip through vetting and continue to manipulate it people. Havent you seen the neccesity to try and bring to the attention of the world that paradise is not truely paradise and that its leaders is not what they portray themselves to be but make the lives of it own people a leaving hell while carrying on winning elections by fraud? I think Mary needs to consider this very seriously and investigate what kind of democracy really exist in Seychelles and put it to the attention of the world. I'm pleading here

For Mary Harper: Do you think the Western media is guity of 'Afro-pessimism'? If so what impact do you think this has?For Sanusi: Can the corruption that seems so endemic in Nigeria ever be overcome?  

Sanusi Lamido, despite the challenges Nigeria is facing concerning network connectivity, epileptic power supply problem and having in mind that most vibrant traders are illiterate, How would you overcome this and acheive your  mind set objective?

 Recently, Sudan became two countries- Sudan and southern Sudan.  This means that we now have two new Sudan counties. Barely two years since this remarkable history, the two youngest African Nations are seemingly at or threatening war between themselves.What advise do you give or recommendations to the Sudanese citizens and probably a massage for the two presidents and the African Union?

For Kingwa Kamencu- do you think the originally envisaged positive effect of the ICC process in Kenya, in terms of ending impunity, is gradually losing out to the divisive effect of polarising ODM and Kenyatta supporters? Due to the latter, do you think the ICC process could ultimately prove to be damaging, in terms of raising inter-ethnic tensions?

I agree with James with regard to the semblance of democracy in Seychelles and put the same question to Mary Harper.