All Africa Futures Forum: Transforming Africa’s Future

In collaboration with UNESCO and WITS School of Governance, the Southern African Node of the Millennium Project will host the All Africa Futures Forum with the theme Transforming Africa’s Futures. The aim of the three-day forum is to bring together African futures thinkers,  and practitioners to explore how  the “discipline of anticipation” has been shaped and applied in Africa and how it can be deliberately leveraged towards  transforming  Africa’s future onto more positive trajectories.

The objective of the Southern African Node of the Millennium Project is to promote futures thinking in South Africa across all sectors with foresight practitioners, futurists, strategists and planners in public, private sectors, civil society and academia. The Node serves a broader African foresight network agenda through the virtual platform ForesightforDevelopment.org and has recently extended into new partnerships in the SADC region.

The invitation to participants asks:

“What are the innovative foresight concepts, tools and planning methods that are necessary to transform Africa’s future?”

Objectives of the Forum:

  • Explore innovative foresight concepts, tools and planning methods that are transforming Africa’s future;
  • Strengthen the anticipatory capabilities  of African policy makers practitioners and planners;
  • Allow the private, public and civil society sector to input, debate and interrogate the thinking, application and potentials for partnerships;
  • Enable the establishment of an African Network of Foresight Practitioners.

The Future Forum will be held over 3 days:

DAY 1: THINKING AFRICAN FUTURES: Conceptualisation

There is increasing talk about the future of Africa, instead focusing only on the present and the past. There have also been African conversations about an “African renaissance” and how Africans can take more control of their own future. The much talked about African Union (AU) Vision 2063 is partly about these new directions. In this way, the future has invited itself into the discourse of development. It is now time to interrogate anew how Africans are “thinking African futures” as a basis for beginning to rethink the future of Africa:

  • Conceptualisations of African futures? (A brief audit and history of African futures)
  • How is the future of Africa being conceptualised?
  • Who is conceptualising the future of Africa?
  • Whose futures are being considered?
  • Whose interests have been served?

day-01

DAY 2: APPROACHING THE FUTURE: Methodologies

There have been various knowledge-based methods used to think about the future and in particular about the future of Africa. The approaches and methodologies for thinking the future have grown exponentially, and many have been used to design the future of Africa. There is little knowledge about which ones have worked effectively, and why. Furthermore, the broader “discipline of anticipation” which encompasses all these methodologies is itself fairly young and evolving. It is therefore useful to explore the underlying reasons and choices that justify the use of these methodologies for “approaching the future” of Africa and think about the following questions:

  • Hypotheses made about the future of Africa?
  • Methodologies used to design the future of Africa?
  • Endogenous knowledge systems used to deal with the future of Africa?
  • Outputs and learnings from these methods?
  • African foresight practitioners need for old, new, and/or adapted methods?

day-02

DAY 3: OWNING THE FUTURE: Planning

Regardless of the methodologies used, the principle reason for exploring the future is for the purpose of claiming it. Decisions to change planning course lead to setting of goals about the future plans. Much of the history of African foresight work about the future of Africa remain as visions, rather than specific strategies or applied plans. So the notion of articulating foresight into concrete decision planning exercises is a challenge in Africa. It is therefore paramount to examine the brief planning history of foresight practices in Africa to determine local, national and regional case trends of successes and failures to rates. We will review and analyse:

  • General trends from foresight exercises to planning the future of Africa?
  • Individual / local / national / regional key planning decision cases, actions and programmes about the future of Africa for the past two decades?
  • Lessons that  could be learned about foresight exercises towards more effective planning decisions – political, economic, social and technological?
  • Directions emerging for the future of foresight towards positively transforming Africa’s futures??

day-03

The objective of the Southern African Node of the Millennium Project is to promote futures thinking in South Africa across all sectors with foresight practitioners, futurists, strategists and planners in public, private sectors, civil society and academia. The Node serves a broader African foresight network agenda through the virtual platform Foresight for Development (FFD) and has recently extended into new partnerships in the SADC region.

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