GEN Africa 2016 Conference
Ghana Permaculture Institute from- Techiman 1-6 Dec. Writen By: Niveen Adel
GEN Africa held its fourth conference in Africa after its initial conference that was in SEKEM Egypt 2012. The second was held in GBIACK- Thika- Kenya in 2013. The third was a summit held in Dakar-Senegal 2014, which was the first direct encounter of GEN Africa with high governmental figures in its endeavor to scale up ecovillages, the second encounter was in AMCEN with environmental ministers - Egypt in April this year.
The conference was held in Ghana Permaculture Institute Techiman Accra. The participants from more than 20 African countries, together with few representatives from GEN international and GEN Europe, started by a long road trip from Accra to Techiman. The 10 hours road trip allowed us to drive through Ghana villages, landscapes and the living patterns of the normal Ghanaian people. Buying delicious roasted bananas from ladies who sell them to us whenever the traffic forces the bus to stop was our first encounter with the special Ghanaian culinary art.
The conference was opened by ceremony receiving prayers from the four directions where the Fatiha of Quran, Christian prayers and traditional African prayers were given. We received our first inspirations by hearing the report of the successful representation of GEN Africa in the COP 22 that was held earlier in Marrakech. GEN Africa left a positive impact in Cop 22 by presenting the successful ecovillages practices in Africa in addition to the Pan African ecovillages development program which targets to put communities at the centre of the development process, promote sustainable livelihoods and practices that are fully in line with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The conference participants reflected on the pan African development program and worked in participatory workshops on how to bring this program forward in various African countries, the action steps of its application and the funding opportunities.
Along the conference all participants shared their projects, whereas in depth presentations and videos were given from ecovillages projects in Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Swaziland, Egypt, Kenya, Cameroon, Zimbabwe and more. The conference was characterized by introducing new member countries such as Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
The participants worked on framing few projects in Africa around social innovation and entrepreneurship, using of the solar energy in agricultural practices, building ecovillages based on the African heritage, learning and demonstration centers, holding ecovillage design education trainings and empowering the next GEN Africa; the youth arm of GEN Africa.
The GPI invited the participants to a tour around the institute to show the various successful applications they have of solar panels which supply energy for all the activities and buildings, moringa processing, oil and cosmetics manufacture, biogas for their community kitchen and smart buildings from recycled materials and bamboo. They also had the the opportunity to go the mountain of the sacred grove where they heard the story of the cultural and spiritual heritage of the area.
The GEN Africa general assembly was held at the end of the conference where the minutes of the Dakar 2014 summit were presented and approved, reports were given by council member on the activities within 2014, 2015 and the budget was presented and approved. The membership criteria was discussed and approved. Members would directly after the conference fill their membership forms whether as organizations or individuals. This marks a real concrete step in professionalizing GEN Africa after it was officially registered as an association in Senegal the beginning of 2016. GEN Africa can now professionally run its own project and partner with governments, national and international organization for the development of African communities.
The General Assembly also covered revising the structure of GEN Africa. The new GEN Africa council was elected, where members were nominated and a fair election was practiced by allowing one vote per country to get as fair as representation as possible and not to biased by the conference venue in Ghana where there were more numbers of representatives from Western countries due to proximity to the conference venue. GEN Africa members elected Ousmane Pame from Senegal, Niveen Adel from Egypt, Linda Kabira from Zimbabwe, Paul yeboah from Ghana and Samuel Nderito from Kenya to be the new leadership for the years 2017-2018. Namises Visolela from Namibia and Walter Mugove Nyika from Zambia and Zimbabwe were added to the GEN Africa advisory board.
At the end the council invited members to volunteer in its various working groups. GEN Africa accepted volunteers in ICT, projects, fundraising, membership and legal working groups.
On the 6th of December we started our road trip back to Accra packed with plans, ideas, partnerships and inspiration. We had to cover again a long full day road trip from Techiman to Accra. We arrived in Accra late at night and in the morning we were witnessing on TV or on our personal tours in Accra the queues of the Ghanaian practicing democracy during the presidential elections.