One of the UK’s leading universities, Queen Mary University of London has opened a research centre dedicated to African research and development. The Centre’s objective is focused on exploring and developing African led solutions to challenges facing the continent as well as connect best talents in all walks of life worldwide.
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, Dr Owolabi Bakre, stated that it was time the world including the big and powerful economic nations came to recognize the contributions of African resources, its economy and people to global advancement.
Said he: ‘’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 were caused by external interference and poor judgment by people entrusted with leadership responsibilities. 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 event 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 colonization, neo-colonization, neo-liberalism and globalization by western powers that are often disguised as foreign direct investors. They also noted that corruption and mismanagement including abuse of political power are the other serious factors that have affected the continent and its development.
While acknowledging that human, natural and economic resources in Africa are the main factors for economic and political interference, the speakers also noted that the time had come for Africa to design its own political and economic blue print that would enable it to dictate to the rest of the world as opposed to it being dictated to by the world.
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.