Africa's Next Generation: A bright Future?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
African Development Forum, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

Africa's Next Generation: A bright Future?

 Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre

The upcoming second African Development Forum will focus on harnessing the potential of youth for the continent’s development.

Africa is home to 350 million young people – and the numbers are growing rapidly. How can the African continent turn this into an asset? What if it becomes a liability? Which scenarios are likely?

Addressing opportunities and challenges in this context, the Forum will consist of two interactive panel discussions - ‘Mobilizing Youth’ and ’Innovating Africa’ -, involving a range of dynamic speakers from different industries and disciplines. The following questions will be tackled:

Employment: How will the continent employ 350 million young Africans?

Agriculture: How can farming attract Africa’s youth to compete with urbanisation?

Diaspora: What impact will the ‘brain gain’ have on African development?

Entrepreneurship: What is the role of young African women in business?

Leadership: Will the young replace the old and inspire real change in African politics?

Technology: Already pioneering in mobile technology, how can Africa do the same elsewhere?

Visit the African Development Forum website for more information

Organiser: African Development Forum

Contact email:

Sponsors: Centre of African Studies, University of London; SOAS, University of London; Royal African Society; Standard Chartered

What do the SDGs mean for business in Africa?

Friday, 23 March 2018
Boko Inyundo, RAS Council Member




Article by Boko Inyundo following the Royal African Society's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) event held on 22nd March 2018



What an inspirational event we had on the evening of 22nd March 2018 that was led by the Royal Africa Society and Dalberg Advisors with The Africa Club at London Business School kindly hosting the gathering. Together with a stellar cast of speakers and a fantastic audience of business executives, investors, social entrepreneurs and development actors, at this event we explored the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that have been set by the United Nations (UN) and which are geared to transforming our world, while we specifically looked at what the SDGs mean for investors and businesses with current or potential interests in Africa.

This event was framed around 2 panel discussions, one with representatives from business and the other with investors, while each panel was preceded by keynote speeches from Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, the former UN Deputy Secretary-General and now Chairman of Smartmatic, the leading electronic voting company that helps hundreds of millions worldwide cast their votes in elections, and Nick O'Donohoe, the CEO of CDC Group, the UK's development finance institution.

Keynote: Lord Mark Malloch-Brown

The keynotes offered deep insight into the opportunities the SDGs offer the private sector as well as the challenges that will need to be navigated, noting that the investment bank UBS states that "the UN's 17 SDGs, each year, cost $5 to 7 trillion to finance, and aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and bring prosperity to all by 2030, though to date, the world is falling well short and needs to raise $2.5 trillion to bridge the gap and this will only be achieved using private capital as well as public investments".

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown emphasised that "meeting social needs are the opportunities of the future" with real prospects in Africa for private sector impact with regards to the SDGs that relate to agriculture, the food chain, communication, renewable energy and healthcare. He highlighted that "the opportunities are enormous for fast movers in Africa" and reflected on his experience of a "real spirit of innovation particularly in East Africa".

Panel with representatives from business

David Croft, the Global Sustainability Director at Diageo, identified micro-power generation as a real opportunity to be grasped in Africa with him forecasting that we're set to see great strides in small-scale, local power generation as investors and entrepreneurs innovate and deploy solutions that address the gaps in access to power across the continent while lowering the cost and price for urban and rural populations across Africa. Yemi Babington-Ashaye, the Head of the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Community, a network of young community leaders based in cities across the world, echoed this sentiment by highlighting that 600 million Africans do not have access to power while Africans, in relative terms, often pay the most for electricity.

Diageo's David Croft also emphasised that plastics recycling is a huge opportunity in Africa and foresees tensions rising exponentially with regards to plastics waste not least because China is now looking to stop importing that waste. Africa will therefore need to build processing and waste re-use networks to address the consequences and Dougie Brew, the Director External Affairs, Communications and Sustainability for Africa at Unilever, highlighted another driver here being the rapid urbanisation of Africa will mean that the continent is set to rely more heavily on processed food and packaging as consumption grows and expectations of quality food products evolve.

H.E. Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework PhD, the Ethiopian Ambassador in the UK, observed that Ethiopia's priorities included building local capacity for food processing by, for example, strengthening the links between farmers and processing centres, as well as responding to the demands from urbanisation by, for example, the building of hospitals and clinics across the country equipped with the technology required to better meet growing and evolving public healthcare needs.

Yemi Babington-Ashaye highlighted that in surveys that the Global Shapers Community regularly conducts with its constituents across Africa sees the youth always saying that healthcare and education are the two areas ripe for disruption. Kate Robertson, the co-Founder of One Young World, the global forum for young leaders and former Global President of Havas, agreed, adding that "the primary driver of disruption in education is connectivity, with every form of digital learning being soaked up by the young in Africa".

One Young World's Kate Robertson continued by stating that many are focussed on the issue of transparency in the context of multiple domains across the public and private sectors. Kate stated that there is "real potential for a huge jump in transparency on the continent" with her citing how the youth are passionate about deploying web-based solutions that, for example, provide greater transparency around procurement. Yemi Babington-Ashaye echoed this view by pointing to findings from the 'Global Shapers Survey', a research study conducted with +30,000 young people from more than 180 countries, which shows that government accountability and transparency weigh heavily on the minds of young people.

Unilever's Dougie Brew felt that the defining feature in Africa with regards to the SDGs is the young and the need to create opportunities for those entering the labour market.

One Young World's Kate Robertson emphasised that the SDGs will, ultimately, be delivered by the youth while the Global Shapers Community's Head, Yemi Babington-Ashaye, stated that the SDGs present an opportunity to develop a shared language, between business and development practitioners, in the context of enabling sustainable progress.

Unilever's Dougie Brew outlined how the SDGs link social needs in Africa directly to a business, like Unilever that, amongst other consumer goods, sells toothpaste globally, in that he highlighted that the no. 1 reason why children do not make it to school across Africa is due to tooth decay resulting in truancy and the consequence that has on the quality of education!

Diageo's David Croft observed how the launch, this past few weeks, of the Guinness 'Made of Black' TV commercial that features the female Kenyan Premier League referee Tabitha Wambui has resonated powerfully in an arena, the beer market, that is largely perceived as male-orientated, and the brand return has been overwhelmingly positive while chiming with the narrative surrounding the SDG goal on gender equality.

David Croft continued by stating that "helping and engaging in Africa is critical to Diageo's global growth" given Africa is a key market for the business. He also reflected on the company's supply chain by highlighting that "strengthening Nigerian farmers has a direct impact on Diageo's bottom line", with the Ethiopian Ambassador observing that his experience of Diageo doing business in Ethiopia was that the company "was not making a hit-and-run investment in Africa but was in the continent for the long term and, as a result, winning love from local communities".

Unilever's Dougie Brew stated that distribution and route-to-market were key issues for Africa’s transformation, where logistics and distribution supply chains were often slow while ensuring affordability is important. He also emphasised the need to develop solutions with local communities for local needs and large companies such as Unilever "rests on a supply chain down to the smallest duka (Swahili for 'shop') in Kenya and therefore has an impact not just through its direct employee base but also the many more indirect employees its influences".

Keynote: Nick O'Donohoe

Nick O'Donohoe, the CEO of CDC Group, stated that "there has never been a time when development finance has been as front and centre in the debate as it is today and the SDGs have played a key role in focussing attention on the role of business and the private sector". He continued by saying the audience, as UK tax payers, should be very proud of the work CDC Group has done to date, citing recent examples where it has invested in a company in Malawi offering affordable nutrition and one in Kenya providing low cost, quality education, and all this through investments, not grants, which earn market leading returns and which will endure for the long term.

The CDC Group's Nick O'Donohoe acknowledged the challenges such as the funding gap of $2.5 trillion needed to finance the SDGs. He observed that while you would have thought investment into Africa is growing, sadly foreign direct investment (FDI) flows to Africa have been in decline as a result of economic headwinds and the retreat of banks and Private Equity, with investors feeling that Africa lacks scale. Recently when asked by the Secretary of State for International Development what needed to be done to address this his answer was the need for:

  1. Better governance and more consistent economic policy on the continent
  2. More risk appetite amongst investors
  3. Greater innovation (in financial services and technology) 

On the subject of governance, Nick O'Donohoe felt that no country in Africa was currently more focussed on attracting private capital than Ethiopia while the Democratic Republic of the Congo was, at the moment, an almost impossible place to do business. Zimbabwe, after +30 years of turmoil, was now "one of the best investment opportunities available if the country were to do what Ethiopia was doing". Ghana has been moving forward while, recently, developments in Tanzania would suggest it was moving backwards.

With regards to risk appetite the CDC Group's Nick O'Donohoe observed that while looking back to the 1980's when hardly anyone made significant investments internationally, things have changed as, today, we have better data to enable us to understand risk. However, whenever the risk status shifts adversely investors will tend to move out fast. He felt CDC Group is in a position to play a major part in disseminating data while it can also help build local capital pools which tends to be more patient capital that's more likely to be in long term equity rather than debt with that capital coming from the likes of pension funds.

With respect to innovation the CDC Group's Nick O'Donohoe highlighted developments relating to finance such as impact bonds, volume guarantees and blended finance models while technology transformations have been seen in mobile, solar (citing M-Kopa) and the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-related technologies in, for example, healthcare diagnosis. However, all must recognise that some things are challenges that are more pronounced in Africa than they may be elsewhere, with Nick O'Donohoe citing water sanitation, house building and credit bureaus / finger printing technology as some examples. The funding of innovations to meet such challenges will require people and partnerships to come together to build the necessary solutions that are relevant to communities on the continent.

Panel with investors

Shami Nissan, the Head of Responsible Investment at Actis, a leading investor in growth markets across Africa, Asia and Latin America, highlighted that Actis saw opportunities in Africa where it already has a strong track record and this includes: energy; power; electricity; healthcare; education; financial services; and infrastructure. She observed that whereas 3-5 years ago Actis and its clients did not talk about investments in terms of the SDGs, it does do so now.

Geetha Tharmaratnam, a Partner at T5 Africa Capital Partners, a venture capital firm focused on investing in early stage innovative and disruptive technology companies, emphasised that "the focus now needs to be about more than just capital" and that there was a "need to address the capital stack" as the current industry fund structure was, arguably, not fit for purpose, and "needed to focus on the way and quality of investing with the SDGs critical here in giving us a common language". Her view was that the real opportunity and challenge lay in establishing an enabling environment for investing in small and medium-sized businesses while the fundamental challenge was matching the opportunities with the risk appetite.

Tracey Austin, the Global Head, Impact Investments, at Palladium, a global leader in the design, development and delivery of Positive Impact, highlighted that the key is for any investor to, from the start, have a point of view and value system that is in tune with the SDGs, otherwise one risk's simply "green washing" traditional investment approaches. In looking to engage in this arena "it is key that you hire policy and governance experts and put your own money into the game".

T5 Africa Capital Partners' Geetha Tharmaratnam championed the need for Africa to nurture local capital pools that invest in local businesses as that is ultimately what led to transformation in Asia. She also advocated for the Diaspora to return home to help build the human capital base of the continent.

Christoph Scaife, an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) analyst at Investec, the international specialist banking and asset management group, emphasised that impact investing needed to be benchmarked against other forms of investing as a means of positioning it as an attractive and competitive model. He also proposed that investors needed to tell their stories better in order to help dispel the myths that investors were just in the game for profit and enriching those that are already rich, inferring that the SDGs provide such an opportunity.

All the investor panel agreed that the SDGs provided a shared language and vocabulary around which to frame the investment of capital and pursuit of sustainable returns.


The opportunities for the private sector to transform our world by operating and investing through the lens of the SDGs are clearly myriad and an event like this can only scratch the surface in playing its part to propel discussion into action and collaboration.

For me the discussions throughout this event and in our well attended drinks reception afterwards really brought into focus the key opportunities and challenges facing the private sector today. Namely how to exercise its responsibility to pursue profit with purpose, as well as being a means of stimulating productivity that is sustainable for not only their immediate stakeholders (e.g. shareholders, customers, supply chain or employees) but also wider society. Any growth or progress will need to go hand in hand with investments that strive to nurture or responsibly use/re-use our natural resources, not deplete them, for the common good.


Many thanks to Aly-Khan Jamal, Noa Gafni, Adesoji Solanke, Amine Bendriss, Sheila Ruiz and Shushan Tewolde-Berhan, and to the latter two it was a real honour to have been asked to make the brief opening remarks to welcome our eminent keynote speakers, panellists and the full house of inspiring Africa-interested and Diaspora delegates that joined us!



Boko Inyundo is a Council Member at the Royal African Society as well as a member of the Board at the African Foundation for Development, a Non-Exec Advisor to the Africa + Tech-focused consultancy De Charles and a Senior Business Development professional aligned to the Technology Sector at the global law firm DLA Piper.


What do the SDGs mean for business in Africa?

Thursday, 22 March 2018 - 6:00pm to 9:30pm

Date & Time: Thursday 22 March 2018, 18:00 – 21:30 

Veue: London Business School, 26 Sussex Pl Marylebone London, NW1 4SA

Tickets: £12 - Please book your tickets by visiting the Eventbrite website

A discussion and networking drinks brought to you in partnership with Dalberg Group and The Africa Club at London Business School

Complimentary tickets for RAS Corporate Members and Partners.


Discussion of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is widespread, across the media, within development institutions, boardrooms and beyond. There is, in particular a growing recognition that the private sector will have an important role to play in achieving the targets underlying the SDGs, both due to the scale of funding required and the increasingly shared view that businesses and private investors have the ability and responsibility to make a difference.

But in many respects, none of this is new. What is different now? What do we really mean when we say that the SDGs create new opportunities for businesses and investors? What are the most forward leaning companies and investors doing, and what is working?

This event, led by Dalberg Advisors and the Royal Africa Society, hosted by The Africa Club at London Business School, aims to bring together business executives, investors, social entrepreneurs and development actors to pierce the veil on the SDGs, go beyond broad-based discussions and start a dialogue about key questions that face investors and businesses with current or potential interests in Africa.

  • How are the SDGs relevant to businesses and investors today and how do we expect them to change the way we need to operate in Africa going forwards?

  • What new opportunities and markets can be opened up by taking an ‘SDG lens’?

  • How do we need to change the way we operate to make these opportunities a reality? What are the risks? What are firms and funds doing and what is working so far?



Welcome remarks: Boko Inyundo‎, Business Development, DLA Piper, and Council Member, Royal African Society 

Keynote Speeches:

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown, Former United Nations Deputy Secretary-General & Chairman of Smartmatic

Nick O'Donohoe, Chief Executive Officer, CDC Group

Two panels of business leaders and investors include:

Dougie Brew, Director External Affairs, Communications and Sustainability for Africa, Unilever

David Croft, Global Sustainability Director, Diageo

H.E. Dr Hailemichael Aberra Afework PhD, Ethiopian Ambassador in the UK

Kate Robertson, Co-Founder of One Young World & Former Global President of Havas

Yemi Babington-Ashaye, Former Head of Africa, World Economic Forum

Jean-Paul Melaga, Co-founder & CEO of Smartphorce

Aly-Khan Jamal, Partner, Dalberg

Geetha Tharmaratnam, Partner, T5 Africa Capital Partners

Karima Ola, Partner, LeapFrog Investments

Tracey Austin, Global Head, Impact Investments, Palladium

Shami Nissan, Head of Responsible Investment, Actis

Christoph Scaife, ESG analyst, Investec

Adesoji Solanke, Co-President, The Africa Club at London Business School

Regional and Grassroots Justice in Africa: Hissène Habré and beyond

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 - 7:15pm to 8:45pm

Date & Time: Tuesday 24 April 2018, 19:15 – 20:45, followed by a reception
Venue: Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG 

When Hissène Habré, the deposed dictator of Chad, was found guilty of crimes against humanity in 2016, it was described as ‘a watershed for human rights justice in Africa and beyond’. For the first time, a former African head of state had been convicted on African soil.

In this event, we discuss the trial of Habré, the key role played by grassroots activists, and the future of the fight against impunity in Africa.


Celeste Hicks, author of The Trial of Hissène Habré

Thierry Cruvellier, journalist

Gaëtan Mootoo, Amnesty International West Africa researcher

Chair: Professor Mashood Baderin, School of Law, SOAS and Chair of the Centre of African Studies, University of London

Copies of The Trial of Hissène Habré (Zed Books, 2018) by Celeste Hicks will be on sale at the event.

Presented in partnership with the International Africa Institute.

Photo: Hissène Habré, © Daniel Simon/Getty

This event is free and open to all but space is limited. Please register your place on Eventbrite.




Africa Writes 2018

Friday, 29 June 2018 - 6:00pm to Sunday, 1 July 2018 - 9:00pm


Africa Writes 2018
Friday 29 June – Sunday 1 July 2018
Venue: British Library, 96 Euston Rd, London NW1 2DB

Africa Writes returns for an exciting summer weekend at the British Library celebrating the best of contemporary literature from Africa and the diaspora.

We’ve had an amazing response to our call for contributions and are busy cooking up a treat of a programme for you. Full details of the events and ticket booking will be announced at the start of May.

In the meantime, save the dates in your diaries for a rich and vibrant programme of book launches, panel discussions, performances, masterclasses, education events, family workshops and an international book fair.


Africa Writes 2018 is supported by Arts Council England, the Miles Morland Foundation and hosted and supported by the British Library. 

'Dance of the Jakaranda': Book discussion with Peter Kimani

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 - 7:15pm to 9:00pm

Date & Time: Tuesday 13 March, 19:15 - 21:00
Venue: Wolfson Lecture Theatre, Paul Webley Wing, SOAS, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Peter Kimani will discuss his latest book 'Dance of the Jakaranda', published by Saqibooks, with Dr Kwadwo Osei-Nyame, Jnr (SOAS). Chaired by Dr Chege Githiora (SOAS).
1963. Kenya is on the verge of independence from British colonial rule. In the Great Rift Valley, Kenyans of all backgrounds come together in the previously white-only establishment of the Jakaranda Hotel. The resident musician is Rajan Salim, who charms visitors with songs inspired by his grandfather’s noble stories of the railway construction that spawned the Kenya they now know.
One evening, Rajan is kissed by a mysterious woman in a shadowy corridor. Unable to forget the taste of her lavender-flavoured lips, Rajan sets out to find her. On his journey he stumbles upon the murky, shared history of three men – his grandfather, the owner of the Jakaranda and a British preacher – who were implicated in the controversial birth of a child. What Rajan unearths will open his eyes about the birth not just of a child, but of an entire nation.
Peter Kimani is an award-winning Kenyan novelist. He was one of three international poets to compose and present a poem for National Public Radio to mark Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. A prominent journalist on Kenya’s national news circuit, Kimani’s work has also appeared in The Guardian, New African and Sky News. He teaches journalism at the Aga Khan University’s Graduate School of Media and Communications in Nairobi, and is presently the Visiting Writer at Amherst College in the United States. Kimani was awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for literature, Kenya’s highest literary honour, in 2011.
This event is organised in collaboration with the Centre of African Studies, University of London. Contact email:
This event is free and open to all. Booking is required through Eventbrite

ASAUK Biennial Conference 2018

Tuesday, 11 September 2018 - 9:00am to 7:00pm

ASAUK Biennial Conference
Date: 11 – 13 September 2018
Venue: University of Birmingham, United Kingdom 
Our sister organisation African Studies Association UK (ASAUK) will hold a biennial conference from 11-13 September 2018 at the University of Birmingham on the Edgabston campus. The ASAUK 2018 conference will celebrate the diversity and interdisciplinarity of the study of Africa. 
The University of Birmingham’s campus provides the perfect backdrop for the next ASAUK conference. The Department of African Studies and Anthropology (formerly known as the Centre of West African Studies) was  founded in 1963 by J. D. Fage, pioneer in African Studies, and has over 50 years of experience and expertise in research and teaching about the continent. It also houses the Danford collection, a priceless and unique collection of African artifacts and cultural products.
The conference hub will be the Great Hall in the Aston Webb building. With an elegant entrance space, marvelous domed ceiling and an opulent marble foyer and rotunda, this breathtaking venue will be the awe-inspiring backdrop for the conference registration and formal dinner.
The ASAUK 2016 conference at the University of Cambridge attracted over 650 delegates from different academic disciplines and parts of the world. With 202 panels, the programme was extraordinarily rich and varied and resulted in engaged collaboration across the different disciplines that encompass the study of Africa. 
The keynote speaker is Professor Grace Musila, associate professor in the English Department, Stellenbosch University and author of A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour. Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder (James Currey/Boydell & Brewer, 2015).
The conference is a key event for scholars working on and in Africa. At the conference, the ASAUK will recognise and celebrate outstanding scholarship and contributions to the study of Africa with the Audrey Richards Prize for best doctoral thesis in African Studies successfully examined in a British institution of higher education during 2016-2017. The Fage and Oliver monograph prize for best scholarly monograph on Africa published (or translated into English) and distributed in the United Kingdom. The Distinguished Africanist Award for an individual who has made exceptional contributions to the field of African studies. The ASAUK will also award several scholarships to the conference to up and coming African academics.
This conference provides a unique opportunity to connect with hundreds of Africanists, academics with a particular interest in the continent, development specialists, policy makers and others. The organisers are committed to engaging with participants through an energising and informative programme, and facilitating networking opportunities via two dynamic social events.
Find out more about RAS and ASAUK, and about joint membership of both organisations. 
The conference programme will be uploaded in due course on the ASAUK website

Prospects for 2018

Tuesday, 30 January 2018
Nicholas Westcott
So, where is Africa going in 2018? 
The Royal African Society began its year, as always, with a look at the Prospects and Forecasts for the year ahead.  The panel (hosted by the University of London's Centre for African Studies at SOAS) brought together voices from London and the continent - Nanjala Nyabola, a political analyst from Kenya, Sethembile Msezane, an artist from South Africa, Natznet Tesfay, an Eritrean economist based here in London, and the peripatetic Patrick Smith, editor of Africa Confidential. Afua Hirsch, author of BRIT[ish], chaired.
Our (mainly youthful and mainly female) panel focussed particularly on the challenges for youth: the challenge to find space and opportunity for political, economic and cultural expression.  Patrick underlined the big political changes underway in Southern Africa. Changes of leader in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Angola may not be generational, but they are responding to popular impatience with the old leaders, and public expectations of faster change are high.  Elsewhere, an old generation of leaders are entering the autumn of their careers - in Uganda, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali - and others, though younger, have passed their sell-by date - in DRC or Burundi, for example.  They may linger on, but at a cost to themselves and to their countries.  
So we look to this year's bumper crop of elections to help accelerate the process of democratic change in Zimbabwe, Cameroon, DRC, Sierra Leone, Madagascar and Mali.  In Egypt it looks like nothing will change; in South Sudan we sincerely hope it does, for the sake of the millions displaced or suffering from the seemingly intractable conflict.  Though the political trends are hard to predict, in several countries, without change there is a growing risk of conflict.
This is reflected in the economic prospects.  Politically stable countries with sensible economic policies look set to grow at over 6%, but those mired in conflict drag the average  for the African continent down to 3.4%.  There is a growing public debt burden which will be increasingly expensive to service and which threatens the funding available for private sector investment, which everybody wants to attract.  Investors are looking, but will be picky.  So while there is cause for optimism, more investment is needed to help create the conditions for growth, especially in soft infrastructure such as education and training.  But they also need to be free to go into business.  But there were different views on encouraging entrepreneurship: some see it as the essential variable to stimulate faster growth and create more jobs.  Others see it as a diversion from the political struggle and a Western recipe wrong for African markets.  But I am not sure what the alternative is?
Culturally, the vibrancy in southern Africa we see in South Africa and Zimbabwe is echoed in both East and West Africa.  But growing numbers of young artists want it to serve a purpose, to highlight the reality of power distortions and the lack of freedom in order to change it.  Art will always have an impact: the question is what impact the artist is seeking.
The view was expressed that if young people cannot find a way to force change in their societies, they will simply leave, they will migrate. So if "the West" wants to reduce migration, help the forces of change, not the forces of "stability".  In practice, though, it is often Western donors who are making the argument for change, and African governments that are saying 'leave us alone and leave it to us...'
We will see how this pans out in the course of 2018.  The RAS, at least, will provide plenty more opportunities to debate the issue - in the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, at African Writes and Film Africa, at the ASAUK conference in Birmingham in September, and at a range of smaller, more specific meetings on our agenda. 
We look forward to welcoming you all again as the year goes on.
Nick Westcott