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African Crossroads

African Crossroads

Hosted and organized by Hivos, African Crossroads is a community of future-oriented African thinkers and doers. They meet throughout the year to reflect critically on the most cutting-edge developments anchored in African intellectual and technological traditions.

Why creatives and the tech community are important

Imaginative expression has been necessary to find solutions to some of the most pressing problems facing human, social and urban growth and development. Now, a new breed of change makers, specifically from the creative and design space, is offering solutions to today’s challenges. This is important. Because research from agencies such as UNESCO shows that creativity, innovation and culture are drivers of socio-economic development. Creatives not only boost economic growth, but spark new ideas for improving present and future societies.

How African Crossroads contributes to sustainable development

In 2018 and 2019, African Crossroads held cross-continental gatherings for African artists, entrepreneurs, computer scientists, designers, researchers, and philosophers. Here they exchanged knowledge, debated on subjects that enrich Africa’s development agenda, and proposed solutions to specific problems. The events featured design exhibitions, workshops, art installations, brainstorming sessions and public discussions about the latest inventions and innovations in science, art, and technology. In 2020, this community of about 250 delegates moved to the virtual sphere, where they have met more regularly, continued their discussions and taken collective action.

Where

The event takes place in different locations across Africa and invites participants from every corner of the continent. In 2020, most of the activities have been online, and a hybrid format was designed for the last Online Gathering of the year in December. All activities will remain online and hybrid until the Covid-19 situation allows larger offline gatherings again.

Results so far

In 2018, the inaugural edition of African Crossroads was held in Marrakech, Morocco. Dubbed “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” its multi-disciplinary participants explored their own roles in shaping Africa’s ongoing technological and intellectual revolution. The 2019 edition, themed “Sense the City,” convened in November in Mombasa, Kenya, to positively shape the future of African cities.

The 2020 edition is now a series of online gatherings and is focused on strengthening the community. Online sessions are being co-created by the community and feature workshops, music performances, artwork, and presentations and discussions surrounding innovation. The Covid-19 pandemic, and its social and economic consequences, show us that it is important to keep re-inventing ourselves and keep our dreams alive. So the 2020 edition is proposing to re-imagine the pan-African dream by reflecting on the past, experiencing the present and plotting out a better future.

African Crossroads and Covid-19

Like many many individuals, companies and organizations affected by the pandemic, African Crossroads has had to adapt and shift directions. Instead of an in-person meeting from October 21 to 23 in Harare, Zimbabwe, as was planned for the third edition, the community started meeting online. And now, a larger movement is taking shape and is preparing to open up its network to new members across Africa. Collaboration grants and a Community Resilience Fund have also been created to support collective, cross-country projects.

During the 2020 online gatherings, members will host sessions, showcase their work, and share opportunities and ideas with other participants.

Period and budget

2018-2020
Average yearly budget: €285.000

Partners and donors

Partners vary from year to year, depending on where the event is held. African Crossroads is an initiative of and organized by Hivos’ BOOST and R.O.O.M. programs, funded by the Dutch foreign ministry (BOOST), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO), and the British Council (R.O.O.M.).