UCL Grand Challenges


The Africa Voices event series at UCL


Africa Voices

This event series helped to launch the African Studies Research Centre at UCL. It was themed around the Grand Challenges & it brought Africa and cross-disciplinary research at UCL into the spotlight

The Africa Voices season, which ran at UCL in the second half of January 2016, was designed to launch UCL’s African Studies Research Centre. The events aimed to develop the principles with which the centre works. In particular it set out to emphasize the central importance of co-producing knowledge about Africa with colleagues from Africa and the African diaspora and building networks between UCL and African universities. To this end we were delighted to welcome five African professors to UCL during the launch to help the centre set its research agenda and to help nudge the public narrative on Africa in the UK in more positive directions. There were four talks themed around the Grand Challenges and one related to Public Policy. In addition there was an African cultural gala organised by undergraduate students from the UCL African Caribbean Society and a photography competition leading to a display in the South Cloisters.

Africa Voices poster
  • Dr Ibidun Adelekan (University of Ibadan, Nigeria/Grand Challenge of Human Wellbeing) presented data on some of the initiatives for improving access to good public transport in urban Africa.
  • Dr Ibrahima Thiaw (University Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal/Grand Challenge of Cultural Understanding) outlined the ways in which gold mining can interact with archaeology to preserve stories of historic population mobility thereby addressing the social issue of preserving cultural heritage.
  • Professor Adam Habib, (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa/UCL Public Policy), addressed the current volatile political situation in South Africa and passionately defended the cause of the ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ protests as part of the social issue of access to higher education.
  • Dr Caroline Wanjiku Kihato (University of Johannesburg, South Africa/Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities) presented data from a project looking at urban growth in sub-Saharan Africa. She addressed the social issue of poor urban management used her data to argue for a stronger research on city-scale governance and mayors.
  • Finally, Dr Peter Waiswa, (Makerere University, Uganda/ Grand Challenge of Global Health) demonstrated not only what path-breaking medical research is already being undertaken in Africa, but how effective collaboration with European (in his case Swedish) partners can be addressing the social issue of effective public health policy in Africa.