The maiden edition of the Harvard Africa Alumni Forum ended in Accra over the weekend with a call on Africans to leverage the many opportunities available on the continent to address the challenges that impact various sectors for rapid socio-economic development.
The two-day forum was dubbed, ‘Re-imagine Africa: A call to Action’. Ms Kosi Yankey, Executive Director of National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and Convener of the Forum in her remark said the objective was to provide a platform to inspire Harvard Alumni in Africa and key actors on the African continent to rethink and re-imagine a new Africa – one that is healthy, educated, and thriving with many opportunities for the youth.
She expressed hope that the outcome of the forum would contribute towards an action plan and the way forward for the transformation of the African continent.
The forum was opened by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Republic of Liberia.
Other high profile speakers included; Dr Bernice Dahn, Minister of Health for Liberia, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, Charles Darko, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tullow Oil Ghana, among other dignitaries.
President Akufo-Addo in his address, stressed the need to position Africa’s enterprises to compete in the global scene.
He made the clarion call on the people of the continent to take urgent steps to add value to its raw materials to enable it realize real value for everyone along the value chain on the continent.
He also expressed the need to strengthen the African Union in line with the re-imagine Africa call.
In her speech, the Liberian President, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, said she was excited to speak at the first ever Harvard Africa Alumni Forum and recalled her time at Harvard University where she had the opportunity to meet with and interact with the finest minds on the continent. “As alumni, the challenge is to create similar Harvards here in Africa to empower the African continent”, she said.
Discussants at the forum proposed actions to address problems within Africa’s healthcare delivery, education, governance and rule of law, entrepreneurship and technology, business and finance, gender and leadership, infrastructure and natural resources among others.
The event was attended by politicians, business leaders, development practitioners, Harvard alumni, students, friends of Harvard University and of the continent.