Wednesday, 3 April 2019

INVITATION TO DARNTALK IN APRIL


Trends in Contemporary African Research: Prospects and Challenges
Abstract
Research is critical to sustainable progress in spheres of theory and practice. African scholarly research has been largely influenced by non-African conceptualisation, a reality that has been complicated by power dynamics. There is a need to assess the current position and determine whether a rethink is necessary. In this context, possible answers are underpinned by a tripartite analysis: realisation, problematisation, and contextualisation. Determining whether, and to what extent, Africa should chart its own course will shape African prospects for the foreseeable future.

Speakers:

Dr Pontian Okoli
Dr Pontian Okoli
Pontian obtained his PhD in private international law and LLM in international commercial law at the University of Dundee where he also taught. Prior to his comparative doctoral research on foreign judgments, he worked in law firms and as In House Counsel. During his law practice, he represented clients based in Africa, Europe and the United States on various international commercial transactions. Among other modules, Pontian currently teaches on research methods at the University of Stirling.









Dr Geoffrey Mabea
Dr Geoffrey Mabea
Geoffrey obtained his PhD in Power Economics, focusing on electricity markets in the context of regional Power Markets coupling. He also holds postgraduate degrees (MSc and MBA) in energy economics and policy from the Universities of Surrey, and Jomo Kenyatta University respectively. He has vast experience in the energy industry and project delivery. He has worked in various energy organisations in Kenya and major international consulting firms. He has worked on various projects in East Africa, South Africa, and Indonesia.  Among other research and professional roles, Geoffrey has been energy economics teaching assistant at University of Dundee, and continues to provide consulting services to international clients on several various matters including energy markets integration.







Date: April 26th, 2019
Time: 17.00
Venue: University of Dundee, Dalhousie LT1

Thursday, 21 February 2019

A Call for Immediate Action in WaSH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.



Dr Emmanuel M. Akpabio (pictured centre, wearing red) and other participants of the Abjua-based workshop.   
Earlier this month, Daniel Gilbert chronicled DARN's own Dr Emmanuel M. Akpabio's call for immediate action on WaSH-UPP - Water, Sanitation and hygiene: Understanding Policy and Practice - during a Abjua-based national workshop, organised in cooperation with Nigeria’s Federal Ministries of Water Resources.  

Regarding WaSH-UPP, Dr Akpabio has said,
Unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene are a major challenge in developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Of the global deaths, from the 1 billion people without access to treated drinking water and [the] 2.5 billion lacking adequate sanitation, over 83% is concentrated in SSA. Ebola and other infectious disease outbreaks in this region are much related to our inability to get the WaSH act right.
To read the full report and for more information on WasH-UPP, please visit:

Reported by 
April Harvey,
Director of Communications 


Friday, 15 February 2019

Foreign Judgments Enforcement - Africa and The Hague Judgments Project

Earlier this Februari, Daniel Gilbert interviewed DARN's Dr. Pontian Okoli about the enforcement of foreign judgements in Africa. The interview starts as follows:

Q1. Firstly, please accept my congratulations on the successful completion of your PhD and on your new Stirling University academic position. Could I ask you to briefly provide a context for your thesis, and to reflect on recent developments? – I asked Dr Okoli, who replied:
“Thank you. International litigants want effective outcomes when they try to enforce judgments obtained abroad. There are, however, several barriers to enforcing foreign judgments. My thesis is a comparative analysis of certain African jurisdictions vis-à-vis the Hague Judgments Project – a forum for the harmonisation of Private International Law rules. Over several decades, efforts to agree on a Convention have been largely fruitless. There is, however, now renewed hope for progress. There have been positive developments in the past few years and there is a draft Convention on foreign judgments. More members have joined the (process) but certain powerful countries such as Nigeria are not members”
To read the full interview, please visit https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/foreign-judgments-enforcement-africa-hague-project-daniel-gilbert/


Monday, 3 December 2018

DARNTALK Report: What's holding Africa back?

On the 27thof November DARN hosted a session around the title “What’s holding Africa back?” with a particular focus on renewable energy. Discussing this question were Andrew Symms and Adelani Ayoola from DWF, a global legal business. Given the focus of the talk, many students and staff from the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee attended. 

Mr. Symms argued that many of its clients increasingly saw opportunities to expand their operations to Africa due to its abundant natural resources, the enormous demand for energy and potential for growth, especially when looking at smaller hydropower projects.
Mr. Andrew Symms (left) and Mr. Adelani Ayoola (right).
            Of course, they identified challenges as well. The political and legal environment sometimes causes their client concern, but the speakers noted that stability in countries is increasing, as is the perception that contracts can be enforced. Mr. Ayoola noted however that this is something companies need to take into account when preparing their timelines, as it can sometimes take longer than expected to complete projects. Another challenge revolved around logistics, such as getting the energy from where it is produced to where it is needed or getting the equipment on site. The importance of getting cooperation from local stakeholders was also discussed alongside with the need for companies to take their corporate social responsibility serious, an issue that was further commented on during the Q&A session following the presentation.
            Another topic that was brought up related to public-private partnerships which about getting private finance into a project that otherwise an authority such as a government would not be able to finance because the risks are too great. The influx of (foreign) private capital however also leads to a situation where contracts often stipulate that arbitration takes place outside the local law. Typically, it is agreed that arbitration of disputes will be done according to some western law system, frequently in Paris or London. 

For more background information, please download the DFW report that prompted this #DARNTALK here. DARN kindly thanks DWF and the CEPMLP for their support in making this event possible.



Monday, 19 November 2018

DARNTALK: What's holding Africa back?




Dear Visitor,

We proudly invite you to our next #DARNTALK! This session features two excellent speakers who will discuss the challenges Africa faces when it comes to renewable energy. Below you will find the description of the talk as well as the speakers' biographies. 

When: 27th of November 2019, 17:15 - 18:30
Where: Carnegie Lecture Theatre, University of Dundee


Description
Africa presents an exciting prospect for investment in renewable energy. Economic development and democratisation in the region has resulted in increasing domestic and industrial demand for power, with the current levels of investment lagging far behind these fast-growing needs. The International Energy Agency predicts that the demand for electricity in sub-Saharan Africa will increase by 4.6% annually, and by 2030 demand will be more than double the current electricity production.

In addition to demand growth, renewable technology is driving down the cost of energy production and all 54 African Union countries now have a unified voice in promoting the Paris climate accord. All of these factors have created an environment in which renewable energy development can generate real momentum in Africa – so what's holding the continent back?

DWF in collaboration with Winmark has produced a research report, incorporating in-depth interviews with experts in the region and a series of focus groups to get critical insights into the challenges for developers and investors across Africa.

The report examines all aspects of energy project development and the specific challenges that are holding Africa back, from site selection and planning, finance and bankability, construction and commissioning through to distribution and technology.



Andrew Symms
Andrew is a partner at DWF and heads our Construction and Infrastructure group as well as being head of the Energy and Industrials Sector. 

He specialises in all aspects of construction and engineering law, both in relation to project and procurement documentation as well as contentious matters. He has a wide range of contracting experience, particularly in relation to the issues surrounding the delivery of international projects on time and to cost.

These projects have ranged from residential and commercial buildings to international sporting venues, power stations, transmission lines and process plants.

The work includes drafting and reviewing and the disputes relating to the terms and conditions of building contracts, professional appointments, collateral warranties and security documentation including performance guarantees and parent company guarantees.

His clients include banks, construction companies, energy companies, airports, airlines, property developers, contractors, public authorities and sports clubs. He has lived in and worked for clients in the UK, Europe, Australia and the Far East (being additionally qualified in Hong Kong and Australia - Northern Territory and New South Wales). He experience of working in many overseas jurisdictions including those in Central and Eastern European, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Adelani Ayoola
Adelani is a trainee solicitor in the DWF corporate team and an active member of the firm's Energy and Industrials Sector. 

Before joining the corporate team, he trained with DWF's Construction and Infrastructure team where he worked on various building projects for both private and public sector clients such as banks, developers, construction professionals and local governments.

Born and raised in Nigeria, Adelani is passionate about African development and believes that renewable energy has the potential to be one of the key drivers of economic growth on the continent over the coming decades. A writer and keen observer of the African political and economic landscape, his articles on African development have been published on online publications such as International Policy Digest and New Africa Network.

Monday, 24 September 2018

For the Right To Peace: DARN and Partner join the World to Mark Peace Day

2018 INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE TALK

In the evening of 20th September 2018 inside the Large Lecture Theatre of Dalhousie Building of the University of Dundee, Dundee Africa Research Network (DARN) and the Centre for Global Culture and Public Diplomacy jointly organised a talk to mark 2018 International Day of Peace which is officially celebrated on 21st September of the Year. The talk was organised a day before to allow our members to fully participate in various online activities across the world on 21st September. It was a huge success. We were pleased to make a local contribution to the global advocacy for peace which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We use this opportunity to thank everyone who attended the event.

The event commenced, shortly after the general introduction, with the video message (http://www.un.org/en/events/peaceday/) of His Excellency, Antonio Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Peace Day and followed by a special talk which reflected on the lessons drawn from the peaceful transition of power following the 2017 Presidential Election in the Gambia. Our Guest speaker was Dr Alhagi Drammeh, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the Al-Maktoum College of Higher Education, Scotland. Dr Drammeh spoke on Democracy and Security in the Post Yahya Jammeh Governance in the Gambia. He gave an overview of the Gambia’s political history and explained how Yahya Jammeh came into power in 1994 through a successful coup on the pretext to work for the Gambian masses. According to the speaker, it was unfortunate that  Yahya Jammeh changed when he tasted power. He was able to sustain his grip to power for more than two decades as an authoritarian ruler in the small state of West Africa with various human rights abuses. The 2017 Gambian presidential election was seen as a testimony to the frustration of the Gambian masses against Jammeh's authoritarian posture. In the face of creating imminent political chaos that would have led to a humanitarian crisis in the West African sub-region, the Gambian people, with the regional and international support, remained resolute and ensured that Yahya Jammeh handed over power to the winner of the election, His Excellency, Adama Barrow. The speaker was more positive about the new administration, believing that President Adama Barrow has been working to turn the Gambia around by developing new partnerships with local, regional and international actors in reforming the governance institutions of the country in order to serve the needs of the people. Even though, it may be too early to judge the performance of the new political leadership in the Gambia, the notable message about the talk was the peaceful transition borne out of concerted efforts of multiple actors from the popular will of the citizens, the consistent advocacy of civil society, the role of ECOWAS Mission in the Gambia (ECOMIG), the Support of the European Union and other international actors who were involved throughout the transition period.

Dr Drammeh, a Gambian intellectual in the diaspora, was able to share with us his perspective on the new political dispensations in the Gambia as that of a positive reformation while also acknowledging some of the challenges before the government. One of them, according to the speaker is the divergent interest of the political party coalition currently in power. He also acknowledged the discovery of crude oil in the Gambia as an economic opportunity in addition to the country's tourist industry among others. As the new government of Gambia seeks to build robust relations with the world to better the lots of the Gambian citizens, it is our hope that the rights to peace and human security of all Gambian citizens would remain a key priority of Adama Barrow-led government in the New Gambia.

We express our appreciation to the University of Dundee' s Equality and Diversity Unit and the Institute for Social Sciences Research (ISSR) for providing the necessary support for the success of this laudable event.  2018 International Day of Peace Talk was jointly organised by the Centre for Global Culture and Public Diplomacy and Dundee Africa Research Network (DARN).
The Centre for Global Culture and Public Diplomacy is a new initiative for awareness creation on regional and global development programmes such as the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

For further information about the Centre, please send an email to centreforglobalculture@dundee.ac.uk or centreforglobalculture@gmail.com

Thank you,
Oluwabamidele I. Kogbe,
Founding co-convenor, DARN.

 

Friday, 20 July 2018

DARN Report: Is South Africa's Future Expropriated?

The following is a report of the talk given by Mr. Corrigan for DARN at the University of Dundee.
Swiftly building on the resounding success of the last talk in March 2018 on Cranofacial Research in Africa, and in line with the core ideals of DARN, Terence Corrigan delivered a pulsating talk on the current developments in land distribution issues in South Africa, on Thursday 12thJuly 2018.  Mr Corrigan is a Project Manager in the South African Institute of Race Relations. He is also a Research Fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs.
In December 2017, the South African Parliament instituted a new policy - Expropriation Without Compensation (EWC) - to govern the distribution of land in South Africa. “Is South Africa’s Future Expropriated” sought to unpack the key issues and highlight the economic and socio-political implications of this policy in South Africa.
The speaker highlighted the progress of land reform in South Africa as slow, disappointing and characterised by unsuitable project designs, budgetary lethargy and post-settlement support. However, the policy of EWC, which is couched in the language of land reform, is a contextualized and realistic land reform policy grounded on rigorous research taking cognisance of the economic realities in South Africa. It was particularly interesting that no useful details have been offered by the policy makers on the potential of EWC to expedite land reforms. This is especially so considering the uncertainty surrounding EWC to create an atmosphere of insecurity for local and foreign businesses at a time when South Africa’s unemployment rate recently reached record highs. With these developments highlighted by talk, the future of land reform inSouth Africa is definitely one to look forward to.
The issues addressed in the talk, coupled with the positive feedback from attendees from varied academic and professional backgrounds, culminated in a rich discussion that will be remembered for a long time to come. Networking opportunities were impressively exploited, as it is one of the foundational goals of DARN. It is our hope that such opportunities for networking will continue to be keyed into. We heartily appreciate Terence Corrigan for giving this timely talk, and we hope this is one of many to come.
Urenmisan Afinotan
DARN Co-convener