In November 2022 the Africa Alpbach Network, and representatives from the European Forum Alpbach (EFA) and the Forum Alpbach Network (FAN) met in Accra, Ghana. Our current FANVoice features a report on the meeting by Anna Suberu and Ifeanyi Omah from the AAN.
In November 2022, two board members of the AAN (Winnie Kisakye, Alhassan Muniru), six members of the AAN (Samuel Afadu, Blessyn Kure, Okeletsang Mookeletsi, Anna Suberu, Ifeanyi Omah, Pritchard Mukaka) and one AAN patron (Leena Koni Hoffman), were joined by Florian Boschek (Forum Alpbach Network Board - FANB), Bibimaya Larice and Annamaria Toth (European Forum Alpbach - EFA) in Ghana for a week.
A strategy meeting was organised to revitalise the Africa Alpbach Network's activities and make plans for the growth of the group and better integration into the FAN & EFA.
The AAN was established in 2019 to keep the spirit of Alpbach alive on the continent as an African alumni group of the European Forum Alpbach consisting of over 70 registered members in eleven African countries. Over the years, the network has kept its intra-member cooperation alive through a series of virtual events like the AAN thrive sessions and the innovative Africa Alpbach Virtual Summit. Coming from locations all over the world for the meeting in Ghana, these seven members contributed their ideas and expertise to a renewed vision for the Africa Alpbach Network.
The strategy meeting was facilitated by Isaac Newton Acquah, Founder and Director of the Innovation Spark who led a series of working sessions to facilitate the formation of a vision, mission, and business model for the AAN, activities which will take place all year round and AAN participation at EFA 2023 and other years moving forward. Feri Thierry the Secretary General of the European Forum Alpbach also joined the meeting during the closing days and contributed his vision for continued collaboration with EFA.
With the thoughts of a thriving Africa Alpbach Network on the continent, the possibilities were endless!
Expectations for the strategy meeting were set by AAN members who were eager to see more structure in the network's activities from management-related goals to board membership, connection with clubs within the forum, and having a good time while doing these activities. The working sessions were filled with numerous shared ideas that contributed to the formation of a renewed vision statement for AAN. Though taking place in Ghana, other AAN members were able to join the strategy sessions virtually and also contributed ideas to the discussions and voted to reach a consensus.
Over the week the AAN met with key stakeholders in Ghana to discuss the network's activities and prospective partnerships with organisations like the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Mest Africa, Access Bank, Leti Arts (see picture at the top), the diplomatic core, startups like Pay Box, and other NGOs.
Overall, spirits were high and connections were made with vibrant entrepreneurs and groups who are working in Ghana, across Africa, and in the diaspora.
The Africa Alpbach Network's origin story is an inspiring story of united purpose.
The five days of strategy planning were historic and carried the same zeal as when the network started. Hence, every day of the meeting witnessed idea pollination alongside extensive reflections on Africa’s relationship with Europe and other continents to enhance its social and economic prosperity.
On the first day, all participants took a trip to Cape Coast to visit Elmina Castle. The monument, a reminder of Ghana's tragic slave trade history stood covered in white paint a contradiction of the horrors that lay within. This visit and listening to the tour guide recount Ghana's colonial history with the TransAtlantic slave trade set the tone to promote true African ideals and prosperity free from exploitation.
The subsequent days witnessed a massive surge of ideas, professionalism, communal living, dialogue, and agenda-setting for the AAN.
Annamaria and Florian introduced the history, mission, goals, values, and exploits of the FAN & EFA. AAN member, Ifeanyi Omah said through this, he could see the future of the AAN within the EFA, as a big and transgenerational network.
All AAN members reached a consensus on the goal of AAN to be an intergenerational platform that would foster collaboration to breed sustainable growth on the continent beyond the annual conference attendance. In addition, network members set out several value propositions for AAN. The network aims to be in all 54 countries on the continent such that AAN would be a platform where all Africans would be fully represented.
Another interesting fact about AAN is its plurality of resources and its members' multidisciplinary perspective. From entrepreneurs to scientists, attorneys, artists, and policymakers, to mention a few, all were drawn across a wide variety of disciplines. This became the bedrock to dream even bigger because of the capacity and competence within the network. Hence, the long sessions added context to our ambition and decision that AAN would be a diverse dialogue platform driven by Africans for Africa in collaboration with EFA and other key allies.
Isaac, the facilitator, led the network's members into design thinking, which helped to actualise our ambitions, identifying the essential resources at our disposal, key partners, sources of funding, and revenue generation to bankroll our ambitions.
A business model canvas was used to identify and design every crucial activity and service AAN would deliver on the continent and within EFA. The conversations during these periods were deep and rigorous, stretching over several hours each day.
In all, AAN was realistic and came to understand the role of collaboration with young people on the continent and key organisations currently driving change on the continent.
A significant amount of time was spent at evening networking events. These events brought together key stakeholders such as tech start-ups, social entrepreneurs, agricultural enterprises, creative companies, and government investment agencies.
Most of these organisations were founded and led by young people with notable impact who were spoken to about EFA, the vision of AAN, its mission, key objectives, and what they stand to benefit from by collaborating with AAN.
So, the meeting was not just dry paperwork and an ambitious discussion, but also engaging with the locals on the relevance of AAN to Africa’s realities. Of course, this process was daunting, but no doubt, fun at the same time.
There were such moments of unity as all participants shared memorable times over breakfast, lunch, and dinner; had fantastic afrobeat night dances and endless arguments about Nigerian and Ghanaian Jollof rice, explored other Ghanaian cuisines like Banku, Waakye, kelewele, and fufu which everyone loved.
It was more than a network meeting, it was a family reunited for incremental prosperity. It became clear that the spirit of Alpbach was agnostic to location and the spirit had long been birthed in Africa. With the two locations have several letters in common, so is the spirit. Thus, all participants left this meeting with the spirit of Alpbach invigorated with the spirit of Africa.
Anna Suberu has worked for three years in non-profit organisation marketing and management. She is the Alumni Engagement Associate at Students For Liberty, an international network of over 2500 freedom activists in 117 countries.
Anna first received a scholarship for the European Forum Alpbach in 2020 and has since been a member of the Africa Alpbach Network.
Ifeanyi Omah is a doctoral researcher on Hosts, Pathogens and Global Health at Wellcome Trust Edinburgh. He is a 2019 Mastercard Foundation Scholar at the University of Edinburgh, Global Health Policy Program. Ifeanyi received a scholarship to attend the first digital European Forum Alpbach in 2020. After attending virtually, he has been an active member of the Africa Alpbach Network.