KAMPALA – The preparations are in high gear for the 5th edition of the Kampala Geopolitics Conference (KGC) which is happening next week on November 15th – 16th at the Makerere University Auditorium.
The revelation was made by the organisers Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in partnership with the Embassy of France in Uganda, Makerere University, UN Women, Alliance Française Kampala and the Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques (IRIS).
Inspired by the flagship event of the “Geopolitics of Nantes” in France, the two-day academic public event is intended at discussing current geopolitical questions and trends.
Under the theme “Bringing International Debates to Africa”, the high-level conference offers an interactive platform for dialogue and free exchange on contemporary, regional and international debates to move global debates to an African stage. Experts from Uganda and the African continent will be joined by international researchers to engage in participatory and documented debates on global topics.
This year’s event is expected to host 14 roundtables on a variety of topics relating to global challenges, security, regional trends, sustainable development, sport, culture and society. The conference will also include a series of Twitter spaces, an innovative format (introduced last year) that fosters local and global engagement with the audience as the KGC aims to reach to the general public with special focus on students, academia, representatives from civil society and media, political decision-makers and the diplomatic community. Cultural activities, including a photo exhibition, will also punctuate the event.
The world is at the cusp of a new era, how does Africa configure its globalization agenda and project its influence in critical decision making? Who are the new actors on the geopolitics scene? What are the geopolitical implications for Africa and the rest of the world as polars of power shift strategically?
What does a new rules based order mean for the global village and particularly, for Africa? The COVID pandemic demonstrated many cracks in global multilateralism. Vaccine diplomacy played out as many developing countries especially those in Africa were left in the cold with limited access to COVID vaccines.
The Covid-19 pandemic is restructuring relationships between African governments and external partners, creating an opportunity for a hard reset and a re-prioritization of strategic issues. The Geopolitics panel on global health partnerships will seek to address this. Regional governments and publics have been increasingly forthright with their frustrations with foreign partners—criticizing vaccine nationalism, racism abroad, and the asymmetry of bilateral ties. At the same time, there is often tension between what African governments want, what African publics expect, and what external partners choose to prioritize.
Today, the African the region continues to face serious challenges that temper many countries’ ability to project power. Relatively low economic recovery, civil wars, and climate change continue to force large numbers of people flee their homes as refugees and migrants. Whether sub-Saharan countries can cooperate to address these challenges through institutions such as the African Union will largely determine the region’s future.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, we are faced with new challenges such as energy insecurity exercabated by external factors such as the Russia-Ukraine Invasion among others. We are starting to witness a new dawn, Is there a renewed scramble and partition for Africa as the West seeks to galvanize existing partnerships or win over new allies?
Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies, despite a sharp economic decrease since the COVID-19 pandemic. Many experts have identified Africa as the next big frontier – as a global economic and political force. Thus, it is unsurprising that many global powers have again turned their attention to the continent.
There’s a general consensus by African leaders on terms of engagement, what is the new framework for global partnership? What are the issues of common interest that unite us in this challenging time? Who re-writes the rules for Africa?
The urgency to rewire globalization is occurring at a time of heightened geopolitical rivalries. Rewriting the rules that have underpinned globalization invariably becomes caught up in the competing positions of not only the two major powers – the United States and China – but also actors such as the European Union (EU). Reform manifests itself in norm competition and new sites of contestation. Africa must navigate this environment as it pushes for its own concerns to be heard and reflected in global norm shaping.
Elevated debt burdens coming out of the pandemic have left governments with limited options to cushion the cost of living crisis and, while economic growth struggles to keep pace with population growth, there is strong potential for mounting frustration. These megatrends must be faced against the background of increasing global policy isolationism, trade barriers, social inequality and insecurity, and more.
Globalization has brought many opportunities to African countries, but African economies have not transformed enough away from dependence on raw materials, and thus many remain on the bottom rungs of global supply chains. This is not only the fault of the global superstructure; it also has to do with the policy choices that many African countries have made, especially in the last thirty years.
The rise of new challenges, such as climate change and the digital economy, and of frameworks to regulate them sharpens further the difficulties faced by African states.
To chart a new path, Africa’s foreign partners and regional governments must take measures – some more difficult than others – to mend and deepen ties. There is no easy fix; rebuilding relationships will require patience, persistence, and an openness to break from past practices. What is the opportunity for sustainable development and growth for Africa? What are the steps towards changing how Africa does development?