2010 WANGO Africa Conference
July 1-4, 2010
Participants from Belgium, France, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States joined attendees from many African nations for the 2010 WANGO Africa Regional Conference. Lead by the WANGO Africa Coordinator, Mohammed Bougei Attah, this four day event was rich in content, fellowship, and networking.
The 2010 WANGO Africa Conference was the second edition of a WANGO regional conference/retreat held in Africa. Tagged Kenya 2010, this event was held at the Sentrim Hotel & Lodges in Nairobi, Kenya from Thursday, July 1 through Sunday, July 4. The theme of the conference was Non-State Actors and Ethical Reorientation. The 2010 WANGO Africa Conference came on the foundation of the successful 2008 conference in Accra, Ghana.
Kenya 2010 served as a leading meeting for representatives of local, regional, and international NGOs, government, business and support agencies in the region and beyond. It addressed issues crucial to the growth and development of the humanitarian sector in sub-Saharan Africa and the world at large.
The conference also served as a rallying point for NGO activities and as the centerpiece of the Associationís activities in the region, professional development, and sustainable development programs, as well as corporate social engagement in efforts towards active volunteerism. Participants were provided a unique opportunity to acquire the mechanism and support needed to network, brainstorm, and share innovative ideas that assist in the management of their NGOs to multiply their efforts in solving humanity' basic problems.
Among the highlights was a presentation by Leonard N. Kimani, who serves as the Economic Director of Kenya's National Economic and Social Council (NESC) of the Presidency & Cabinet Affairs Office. Mr. Kimani presented an insightful talk about NGO-Government relations in Kenya, tracing both the benefits gained from a partnership relationship but also how unethical actions can strain relations between these sectors.
Mr. Kimani noted the integral role that NGOs play in shaping important social and development policies in Nigeria and policing the public sector. At present, the civil society sector accounts for 5% of the nation's GDP. And with 5,000 registered NGOs, the third sector continues to grow in size and importance.
However, Mr. Kimani noted, not all is rosy, as the immense power of non-state actors has sometimes countered national goals and because of a tendency of some NGOs to act unethically. In particular, there is concern with those NGOs that promote a negative image of Kenyan society, such as being irresponsibly destitute, in order to secure donations or other gain -- thus personally profiting from the portrayal while causing the nation a major drop in foreign investment and tourism. Another concern, is the tendency of some NGOs to decrying corruption in government while themselves reflecting poor ethical standards.
With the helping push of NGOs, the Kenya government has put in place important government regulations to advance the accountability, transparency, and efficiency of the governmental sector. But, Mr. Kimani noted, it is unclear whether the NGO sector is reciprocating with respect to its own standard. He called for the enhancing of ethical consideration and re-orientation within all non-state actors, noting 24 core values standards of conduct to which entities should adhere. He also noted the goal of the Kenya government to implement Vision 2030, whereby a National Value System would be put in place as a key driver of development.
Among other presenters, were Jean-Jacques Schul (President of the board of directors of IDAY International, the International Day of African Youth), Dr. Jerry Kolo (Professor, American University of Sharjah, UAE), Dr. Frederick Swarts (Assistant Sectretary General, WANGO), Dr. Alvan Quamina (AIDS Project of East Bay, California), Quadri Oluwatosin (Executive Director, Development and Leadership Institute, Nigeria), among many others.
Issues examined included Education as a Fundamental Parameter for Socio-Economic Growth, NGO Accountability and Transparency, NGO Self-Certification, Family, Women and Children, NGOs and Corporate Social Responsibility, and Governance and Leadership. Mr. Attah provided an update on WANGO Africa's Zero Illiteracy Project (ZIP). Dr. Quamina presented results of his doctoral research into the Nigeria NGO sector, including enabling and disabling aspects of Nigeria law relative to the NGO sector. Among Professor Kolo's presentations were insights into the challenges ahead for Africa relative to human rights and democracy. (Prof. Kolo also offered very succinct definitions of accountability (keep your nose clean!) and transparency (show the world that your nose is clean!) Mr. Schul of IDAY examined education in Africa, offering statistics on basic education, poverty, and other key component that IDAY is working to address.
Complete with a tour, good food, great networking, and enlightening presentations, Kenya 2010 was an unqualified success and a focal point for future NGO activities in sub-Sahara Africa. Those wishing a copy of the proceedings can contact Mr. Mohammed Attah at the WANGO African Regional Office.