African scholars invited to shape UK’s engagement with Africa

29 Jun 2015
CM GH KE NA NG SN ZA SD
Chevening Africa event at the FCO

Nearly 40 Chevening Scholars participated in roundtable discussions with staff at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in order to strengthen mutual understanding of the UK’s engagement with Africa, and the continent’s future prospects.

The event was a clear demonstration of the bilateral value Chevening can bring to scholars, their home countries, and the FCO by ensuring that the UK’s foreign policy in Africa, especially relating to trade and development, also aligns with the needs and desires of citizens from its various countries. As future leaders, Chevening Scholars are well placed to understand the particular challenges and opportunities in their particular countries and regions and were happy to share their insights with staff engaged with Africa at the FCO.

Danae Dholakia, Head of Central and Southern Africa Department at the FCO, gave the keynote speech before inviting guests to a networking reception attended by partner organisations including DFID and UKTI. Several representatives from African diplomatic missions to the UK were also in attendance. Amongst the distinguished attendees was Mr Lazarus O. Amayo, the Kenyan High Commissioner to the UK. He engaged with Kenyan scholars, speaking with them about their time in the UK and their career plans on returning to Kenya. Speaking of the day’s activities, Mohamed Ramadhan Ruwange, a Kenyan scholar at the University of Reading explained why events of this nature were of paramount importance.

‘The UK wants to engage with Africa and its future leaders like us, which will help to shape future engagements,' he said. 'For me today’s activities are very important; we got to relate to very high profile FCO officials. We have told them what we feel they’re doing right, we’ve informed them of what we feel has to change, and this will help towards improving FCO activities in Africa’.

The insights gleaned from the scholars will be synthesised and presented to the most senior of FCO personnel at the forthcoming FCO Leadership Conference.  

This engagement with scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa follows on from a series of recent events where Chevening Scholars from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico have all been able to engage with FCO staff relevant to their region.

Scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa network with each other at Durbar Court
Scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa network with each other at Durbar Court
Roundtable discussions were held between scholars and FCO staff, covering a variety themes relevant to the region
Roundtable discussions were held between scholars and FCO staff, covering a variety themes relevant to the region 
Kenyan scholars were delighted to meet their high commissioner to the UK
Kenyan scholars were delighted to meet their high commissioner to the UK
Scholars were proud to represent their countries, and put forward views of their countryfolk.
Scholars were proud to represent their countries, and put forward views of their countryfolk.