Africa is going through much unrest and conflict, but members of the Tampa Bay community and others who have firsthand knowledge of Africa’s situation are coming together to discuss ways the issues can be fixed.
Delegates from international organizations and non-governmental groups, including experts in the field of Africa’s problems, are gathering for an international conference at USF to help establish a Horn of Africa Confederation.
Beginning today, the Embassy Suites will hold the two-day international conference.
The workshops and discussions will focus on three main topics: political and social issues, economic issues and health issues. There will also be a business forum.
“The goal is to bring people who are knowledgeable about the area together to discuss a way to find a solution to the problems that region is facing,” said Patrick Sandji from the Institute of Black Life at USF.
These problems include an ongoing civil war, regional and ethnic conflict, famine, poverty and the spread of HIV and AIDS, all of which, Sandji said, are devastating the population of the counties that make up the Horn of Africa — Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
Ethiopia and Eritrea have gone to war a number of times in the past year alone, said Earl Coteh-Morgan, a professor in the International Studies department. Also, there have been many ethnic conflicts in Djibouti, and the government of Somalia has collapsed.
“It’s basically a collection of territories ruled by war lords,” Coteh-Morgan said.
“Unless the differences between the different groups are resolved, it will be very difficult to actually have a confederation,” Coteh-Morgan added.
He also said that a confederation between the countries would hopefully enhance peace, stability and development.
“Peace and stability in that area would have an impact on world commerce,”
This is important for the rest of the world’s economy, he said, because the ships that carry oil from Saudi Arabia must pass through that region.
“Any serious project has to be preceded by a lot of analysis,” said Coteh-Morgan. “That is what the conference is going to accomplish.”
Former president of the Republic of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, will give the keynote address at the opening session.
USF alumnus Zachary Teich, now deputy director for the Office of Eastern Africa Affairs for the U.S. State Department, will be in attendance to speak at the opening session.