As an attendee of the Ibrahim Governance Weekend (IGW), I have written this piece which contains my summary notes and reflections on this influential event that brought together prominent leaders and thinkers in the realm of governance and leadership.
About the Ibrahim Governance Weekend
The Ibrahim Governance Weekend is a prestigious event that brings together influential leaders, experts, and thinkers from across Africa and the world to discuss critical issues concerning governance, leadership, and development on the African continent. Held from the 28th – 30th of April in Nairobi, Kenya, the event served as a platform to engage in insightful discussions and share innovative ideas to shape Africa’s future. The Global Index on Responsible AI was invited to IGW as part of their engagement with the Paris Peace Forum’s Scale-Up programme. This blog highlights some of the key discussions and themes that emerged during the event.
Key Discussions at IGW
Promoting good governance
A central focus of the Ibrahim Governance Weekend was the importance of promoting good governance in Africa. This momentous occasion provided a platform to hear insights from influential figures in global leadership and governance as they discussed the current challenges and future prospects that African leadership encounters.
The opening ceremony commenced with a leadership ceremony where the 2023 IGW honoured Mahamadou Issoufou, former president of the Republic of the Niger, by presenting him with the prestigious 2020 Ibrahim Prize medal.
Panel discussions and speeches emphasised the significance of accountable leadership, transparency, and effective institutions for sustainable development. Participants explored ways to address corruption, improve public service delivery, and strengthen democratic processes across the continent. This session was facilitated by Zeinab Badawi, International Broadcaster, who is a member of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (MIF) Board. Distinguished figures who participated in this session included Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation; and Amina J. Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Africa in the world: Multiple assets
This session began with Georgie Ndirangu, Head of Pan-African Communications, Mastercard Foundation, sharing his experience of being supported by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to complete his master’s degree.
Ndirangu was followed by an insightful discussion that was led by Mo Ibrahim, who outlined the various resources that the African continent holds. Ibrahim was in conversation with Abdalla Hamdok, former Sudanese Prime Minister, and they discussed the Sudanese conflict and a way forward. The session focused on Africa’s position on the global stage, and it emphasised the invaluable resources and latent prospects Africa possess, while encouraging participants to be cognisant of the current challenges that still exist and need to be addressed.
Natasha Kimani, from Africa No Filter and MIF Now Generation Network (NGN) member, moderated a panel which aimed to redefine and shift the narrative that is often applied to the African continent. The esteemed panel consisted of: H.E. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice-President of Nigeria; Hafou Touré, MIF NGN member and Technical Advisor, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises, Côte d’Ivoire; H.E. Ibrahim A. Mayaki, AU Special Envoy for Food Systems, former Prime Minister of Niger, and former CEO of African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA NEPAD); and Donald Kaberuka, MIF Board Member, Managing Partner of Southbridge Group, and former President of the African Development Bank.
Kimani posed the following question to the panel, “what are some of the things we can begin doing differently to ensure that we are changing the creative economy to enabling and being a leverage to ensure that we have social-economic development?”. This question ignited a robust and insightful conversation which emphasised the crucial role of gender equality and women’s empowerment in driving Africa’s progress. The panel discussion highlighted the need for increased representation of women in leadership positions and ensuring women’s rights and access to resources. The discussion also explored strategies to address cultural barriers and biases that hinder gender equality.
Secondly, the experts on this panel addressed the need to recognise the demographic dividend that Africa’s youthful population offers and the panellists underscored the importance of investing in youth empowerment and education. The panellists also explored strategies to enhance access to quality education, vocational training, and employment opportunities. Lastly, the discussion highlighted the significance of youth engagement in governance and decision-making processes. Watch the full video recording of the first session here.
The world in Africa: A growing competition – state actors
The second forum session explored the variety of state actors who continually engage with the African continent, placing an emphasis on Africa’s significance in the global context and shedding light on the continent’s strengths and potential. The session was moderated by Jendayi Frazer, CEO of 50 Ventures and member of the MIF Board Member. Frazer was in conversation with Koen Doens, Director: General for International Partnerships, European Commission; Jin-Yong Cai, Former CEO of the International Finance Corporation and Board Member of MIF; Comfort Ero, President and CEO of the International Crisis Group; Andrew Mitchell, UK Minister of State for Development and Africa; and Amr Moussa, Chair of Interpeace and former Secretary-General of the Arab League.
The third forum session also engaged with a range of African actors who shared their perspectives on potential that the African continent holds. Mo Ibrahim moderated this panel discussion, which consisted of acclaimed panellists from the Rockefeller Foundation, Mastercard, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Open Society Foundation. The panellists who participated in this discussion were:
- Zein Abdalla, Mastercard Foundation;
- William Asiko, Managing Director of the Africa Region Office, Rockefeller Foundation;
- Gayle Smith, CEO, ONE Campaign;
- Mark Malloch-Brown, President of the Open Society Foundation;
- Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Given the pressing challenges of climate change, the panellists dedicated a significant amount of attention to discussing its implications for Africa and the global community. The experts and leaders in this session deliberated on strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change, promote renewable energy sources, and foster sustainable development practices. The discussion also addressed the importance of building resilience and adapting to the changing climate.
Another critical topic of discussion in this panel was the economic transformation in Africa. The experts highlighted the need for diversifying economies, reducing dependency on natural resources, and promoting inclusive growth. The discussion explored innovative approaches to stimulate entrepreneurship, foster job creation, and harness the potential of technology and innovation for economic development.
Africa in the multilateral architecture: Where is its voice?
The final session delved into the present and future role of Africa within the multilateral system. It highlighted the necessity to enhance both the representativeness and effectiveness of the existing system, while also recognising the emergence of alternative “competitors” in the realm of multilateralism.
This session was moderated by Vera Songwe, Chairperson of the Liquidity and Sustainability Facility and former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The panellists who participated in this session were: Masood Ahmed, President, Center for Global Development; Betrand Badré, Managing Partner and Founder of Blue like an Orange Sustainable Capital and former CEO of the World Bank Group; Amadou Hott, Special Envoy of the President of the African Development Bank for the Alliance of Green Infrastructure in Africa and former Finance Minister of Senegal; Mark Malloch-Brown, President and CEO of Open Society Foundations and former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations; Michael Mbate, MIF NGN, Strategic Research Analyst at the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa.
The Global Index on Responsible Artificial Intelligence at the Paris Peace Forum’s Call for Solutions Session
On Sunday, 30 April 2023, Dr Rachel Adams, Principal Investigator of the Global Index on Responsible Artificial Intelligence, participated in a panel that was organised by the Paris Peace Forum. Dr Adams was joined at this session by Justin Vaïsse (Founder and Director General of the Paris Peace Forum); Jack Kimani (CEO, Climate Change Action Platform for Africa); and Aurélie Villaespesa (Projects Officer at the Paris Peace Forum).
The session, titled “Paris Peace Forum’s Call for Solutions to Cover Global Challenges’’, highlighted the upcoming Paris Peace Forum that will take place in November 2023. Panellists encouraged actors addressing today’s pressing issues to apply for a chance to be featured at the 6th edition of the Forum. The Forum provides a range of possibilities for projects, such as presenting on a prominent platform to enhance visibility, networking with diverse global governance stakeholders, and even participating in the Paris Peace Forum’s Scale-up Programme to develop initiatives further.
The Scale-Up Programme is awarded to a select few outstanding projects; the Global Index was a recipient of the award at the Paris Peace Forum last year. Dr Adams discussed the Global Index on Responsible Artificial Intelligence project, and her experience as an awardee of the Paris Peace Forum Scale-up Programme. The programme has provided the Global Index project with mentorship and support to advance its reach and impact. Watch the recording of the panel here.
My Experience at IGW as an Emerging AI Researcher
I had the privilege of participating in the prestigious Ibrahim Governance Weekend as an emerging AI researcher, an experience that profoundly shaped my perspective on the intersection of artificial intelligence and governance in the African continent. The event brought together influential leaders, policymakers, and experts from various fields to discuss pressing global challenges and explore innovative solutions. I had the opportunity to engage in thought-provoking discussions and exchange ideas with renowned scholars, activists, donors and leaders of the private sector.
The invaluable networking opportunities and exposure to diverse perspectives enriched my understanding of the complexities and ethical considerations surrounding AI development and implementation in the African context. This immersive experience at the Ibrahim Governance Weekend propelled my passion for leveraging AI to drive inclusive and accountable governance practices, and I am eager to continue contributing to this critical field.
Creating Sustainable and Responsible AI Governance Through The Global Index
IGW 2023 brought together a diverse range of stakeholders committed to advancing good governance, sustainable development in Africa, gender equality, economic transformation, and youth empowerment. Through engaging discussions and sharing of ideas, the event provided a platform to explore innovative solutions and strategies to address the continent’s most pressing challenges. The conversations held during the event will continue to shape policies and initiatives aimed at building a prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable future for Africa. Watch highlights from IGW here.
The Global Index on Responsible AI intends to further contribute to the bigger African agenda that was highlighted at IGW by promoting responsible AI governance through looking at issues that are at the intersection of climate, youth empowerment, gender equality and education.