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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

Africa: APIC/ECA Electronic Roundtable

Africa: APIC/ECA Electronic Roundtable
Date distributed (ymd): 991202
APIC Document

Introductory Note to Readers of Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List

In our annual survey of readers, one suggestion that has turned up repeatedly is to provide some more interactive forum than is possible within the framework of this list. We are pleased to announce that we have now been able to respond to this request, and hope that many of you will take advantage of the new roundtable announced below.

With your help, we hope that in this pilot project we can avoid some of the problems experienced by many electronic fora, and experiment with new formats that may be helpful to others as well.

Many of the obstacles to productive on-line discussion are structural. Among them are the wide disparity between access to electronic media in developed countries and on the African continent and the inherent difficulty in discussing complex issues among diverse groups of people without the extra benefit to communication of meeting in person over a drink or in the corridors of a conference. In some cases the result is a discussion dominated by a few voices with easy and inexpensive access to electronic media and time to chat (Africans or non-Africans living outside the African continent), or a series of interchanges in which misunderstandings are multiplied by hostile rhetoric.

We at APIC have tried to take care to maximize the chances of productive communication in this pilot project. We are not undertaking this venture alone, but in partnership with the Economic Commission for Africa and with Bellanet, both organizations with extensive experience and networks in this field. The discussion will be moderated, with Dr. AbdouMaliq Simone taking the role of lead moderator. And each topic will be introduced by a number of distinguished African policy analysts.

The roundtable's success, however, also depends on you the audience and your contacts. For such a discussion to have impact on international policy, there must be many listeners. And many of you have insights on these issues that we hope you will share -- in the periods allocated for audience participation. So read the invitation below, sign up yourself (well in advance of the Roundtable startup in January), and pass it on widely to your networks.

International Policies, African Realities

This is to invite your participation in "International Policies, African Realities", an electronic roundtable co-sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC), Washington, D.C. The objective of the Roundtable is to provide an electronic space in which Africans, North Americans and others can discuss what policy perspectives and understandings of African reality should shape international engagement with Africa.

It is to be chaired by Dr. K.Y. Amoako, Executive Secretary of the ECA, Dr. Julius Ihonvbere, the Ford Foundation, and Ms. Adwoa Dunn-Mouton, APIC. The principal moderator will be Dr. AbdouMaliq Simone assisted by Ms. Karin Santi (APIC) and Ms. Mercy Wambui (ECA) as co-moderators.

The Roundtable will try to use the opportunities opened up by new electronic communication technologies to come up with new ways of putting together and conveying African knowledge. It will experiment with means by which African-initiated content and perspectives can be projected into policy debates on African issues taking place outside the continent. It will build on the innovative ECA electronic conferences preceding the ECA's 40th anniversary (AFR-FEM, March-May 1998) and the African Development Forum (June-October 1999), as well as on APIC's capacity to relay information on Africa to diverse constituencies within the U.S., Africa, and elsewhere.

The Roundtable will run from January 8 - May 8, 2000, and will be divided into four month-long sessions. Each session will focus on a specific theme. The themes include in order:

  • Economy and Development,
  • Democracy and Human Rights,
  • Peace and Security, and
  • Education and Culture.

Each session is to be introduced by several panellists, responsible for opening remarks and interchange before being opened up to 20 days of comment from Roundtable respondents and general participants. As with such a panel at an in-person conference, the selection of high-quality panellists and giving them an opportunity to speak first will set the tone of the discussion. During the three-week discussion period for each topic, the audience will have its chance to contribute, with the moderators taking the responsibility to ensure that contributions from the floor are pertinent to the discussion. The lyris listserv software utilized by Bellanet will allow participants to join the discussion by e-mail or from the web, and the archive of discussions will be available for access by an even wider audience. A book-length publication will be prepared following the conclusion of the Roundtable.

For additional information on the Roundtable please contact Karin Santi ( or APIC (Tel 202 546 7961; Fax 202 546 1545; E-mail

We hope you will join us in this exciting venture.

How to Subscribe to africanrealities-L

**By e-mail**

Send a message to and put in the body of the message:
subscribe africanrealities-L firstname lastname

For example:
subscribe africanrealities-L Kofi Annan (if your name is Kofi Annan)

**On the web**

Go to, then click on "Sign-up for the Roundtable," and follow the on-line instructions.

After subscribing, you will receive a request to confirm your subscription, followed by an introductory welcome message. Additional announcements and references to background resources may be posted to list subscribers and/or placed on the Roundtable home page ( during December. The Roundtable will open on January 8, 2000.

Panellists Confirmed as of late November, 1999

Economy and Development

Paulina Adebusoye, Economic Commission for Africa
Taoufik Ben Abdallah, Syspro, ENDA Tiers Monde
Yassine Fall, AAWORD
Yao Graham, Third World Network
Thandika Mkandawire, UN Research Institute on Social Development
Dominique Njinkeu, African Economic Research Consortium
Jacqueline Nkoyok, Confederation of Central African NGOs

Democracy and Human Rights

Tade Aina, Ford Foundation
Mazide N'Diaye, Forum of African Voluntary Development Organizations

Peace and Security

Jakkie Cilliers, Insitute for Security Studies
Angela Hakizimana, Women for Peace Network
Hussein Solomon, ACCORD
George Wachira, Nairobi Peace Initiative

Education and Culture

Lalla Ben Barka, Economic Commission for Africa
Lupwishi Mbuyamba, UNESCO Luanda

This material is produced and distributed by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC). APIC's primary objective is to widen international policy debates around African issues, by concentrating on providing accessible policy-relevant information and analysis usable by a wide range of groups and individuals.

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