This is the old United Nations University website. Visit the new site at

UNU System

28 & 29 September, 2009

2009 UNU/UNESCO International Conference:
Africa and Globalization

UNU/UNESCO 2009 conference group photo
Conference participants at the conclusion of the 2009 UNU/UNESCO international conference. Photo: Jeremy Hedley/UNU.

Conference Summary

Day 1 — Monday, 28 September 2009

Texts and presentations from participants are available on the Programme page.

Over 300 people gathered at UNU’s U Thant Hall on Monday, 28 September for day 1 of the 2009 UNU/UNESCO international conference on Africa and globalization. Japanese government representatives Tetsuro Fukuyama (MOFA), and Masaharu Nakagawa (MEXT) offered opening remarks, highlighting Japan’s continued engagement in the region. Conference co-organizers Director General Koïchiro Matsuura (UNESCO) and Rector Konrad Osterwalder (UNU) followed, setting a constructive tone for the sessions to follow.

The first session sought to chart the future of Africa based on lessons from post-colonial experiences. Former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo (Nigeria), John Kufuor (Ghana), Alpha Konaré (Mali), Sam Nujoma (Namibia), and António Eanes (Portugal) assessed the dimensions of globalization from a leader’s perspective. Critical issues outlined included leadership and governance, African unity, development strategies, and the importance of history in addressing globalization’s impact on Africa.

The second session focused on how to put vision into practice. Chaired by Waseda University’s Sadaharu Kataoka, distinguished African experts Mongi Bousnina, N’Dri Assié Lumumba, Augustin Fosu, Dominique Malaquais, and Jinichi Matsumoto touched on both the positive and negative aspects of globalization. The speakers discussed the significance of research and development in constructing knowledge societies, the public mission of higher education, growth collapse of economies, and concrete examples of innovation at the micro-social and micro-economic levels.

The final session brought leaders and experts together for an open exchange of ideas. Participants engaged in frank assessments of the coalition between leadership and scholarship, fundamentalism, shared African values, and the growing presence of China in Africa. Rector Osterwalder closed the day in positive terms, expressing his optimism for Africa’s ability to tackle its challenges.

Day 2 — Tuesday, 29 September 2009

On the second day, the first session’s panel chaired by Goolam Mohamedbhai focused on the interplay between governance and leadership and the levels of government, society, and community. Clement Adibe, Ernest Aryeetey, Yasushi Katsuma, and Obijiofor Aginam spoke of the roots of instability in Africa, institutions and information technologies, human security, and the complex relationship between governance, public health and resource conflicts.

Interventions followed, as commentators John Kufuor, Alpha Konaré, and Akilagpa Sawyerr engaged the speakers’ arguments. The dialogue carried into the audience during a lively question and answer session before the session’s conclusion, which addressed among other issues, the possible disconnect between decision makers and academics.

Vice-Rector of UNU Kazuhiko Takeuchi chaired the final session of the conference which explored sustainable development in Africa. Lidia Brito, George Hara, and Tatsuo Hayashi presented powerful data and imagery that took on issues of empowerment through education, sustainable business models in Africa, and poverty.

Rishab Ghosh, N’Dri Assié-Lumumba, Clement Adibe, and Olusegun Obasanjo offered their critique of the presentations, elaborating from their own unique perspectives on IT in Africa, the tradition of knowledge, leadership, and the beauty and necessity of human diversity.

Closing statements were made by Hans d’Orville (UNESCO) and Egyptian ambassador Walid Abdelnasser. D’Orville touched on the many salient issues set forth in the conference, outlining key and soft drivers for success in building a future of and for Africa. Abdelnasser continued, underscoring the congruence of the presentations with UNU’s activities in Africa. His reflections on a wide range of issues including science, education, and technology linkages, human security, and expansion of the G-20 configuration, offered a comprehensive conclusion to these two days of high-level dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of globalization in Africa.

H. E. Mr. Abdirashid, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, with ikebana master Mrs. Enho Sumura (left), board member of the Sogetsu Foundation, and Ms. Yoko Kadoya, interpreter. Photo: Curtis Christophersen/UNU.

Ethiopian roses adorned the U Thant international conference hall on the occasion of the Africa and Globalization conference. According to the Rector, “this was a very positive example of a benefit which globalization has brought whereby we can enjoy the beauty of Ethiopia here in Tokyo and which can bring benefit also to the people of Ethiopia who have grown and nurtured them.”

Event Organizers and Supporters

Organizers: United Nations University (UNU), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)

Co-organizer: Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO (ACCU)

Supporters: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MoFA), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT), Japanese National Commission for UNESCO (JNCU)

About the Conference Organizers

UNU · The United Nations University (UNU) is an autonomous organ of the United Nations established by the General Assembly. In its 30-plus years of operation, the university has grown to encompass UNU Centre in Tokyo, a global network of research and training centres and programmes, liaison offices at UN Headquarters and UNESCO Headquarters, and 21 UNU associated institutions.

The UNU operates as an international community of scholars with the mission of contributing to efforts to resolve the pressing problems that are a concern of the United Nations, its peoples and member states. UNU research, capacity development, and dissemination activities are focused within five thematic areas: peace and security; good governance; economic and social development; environment and sustainability; and science, technology, and society.

UNESCO · The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations system. According to its constitution, the Organization’s main objective is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among the world’s nations through education, the sciences, culture, and communication and information in order to further universal respect for justice, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion. UNESCO pursues its action through five programme sectors: education; natural sciences; social and human sciences; culture; and communication and information. The Organization is headquartered in Paris, with over 50 field offices and several specialized institutes and centres throughout the world. Founded in 1946, UNESCO currently has 193 Member States and six Associate Members. The Director-General is Koïchiro Matsuura (Japan). More information is available at


Page last modified 2019.04.16.

Home  •  About UNU  •  UNU Institutes  •  Events  •  Online Learning  •  Publications  •  Library