February 23, 2012

Panel will discuss success stories in Africa

by Pete Rosenbery

John Kiggundu

John Kiggundu

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A panel discussion next week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale will examine the success that several countries in Africa are experiencing.

Professor John Kiggundu, who teaches law and business at the University of Botswana, is the featured speaker for the panel discussion, “ Good News from Africa: Success Stories in African Development, Democracy and Culture.”

The event is at 5 p.m., Thursday, March 1, in the SIU School of Law courtroom, room 108.  The panel discussion is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Media Advisory

Reporters, photographers and camera crews are welcome to cover the program at the SIU School of Law.  John Kiggundu will be available for interviews while he is on campus and after the panel discussion.  For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Alicia Ruiz, the law school’s director of communication and outreach, at 618/453-8700.

 Mark F. Schultz, an associate professor at the law school who frequently visits Africa, said he hopes that Americans can gain a more balanced view of Africa. Not only is there reason to be optimistic about Africa,  but American businesses should also be looking to African countries for economic opportunity, he said.

“The news that Americans hear from Africa is still mostly bad; it’s all famine and war,” said Schultz, who will moderate the panel discussion.

“When I visit Africa I see a very different place from the one in the news.  I see vibrant cultures, booming economies, and growing democracies. I also see America’s economic competitors, particularly China, benefiting from Africa’s strong growth and rapidly rising middle class.  They are making huge investments, selling products, and building roads, airports, and phone systems.”

Other panelists include SIU Carbondale faculty Frank M. Chipasula, a professor in Africana Studies who is originally from Malawi; Leonard K. Gadzekpo, an associate professor in Africana Studies who was born in Cote d'Ivoire and grew up in Ghana; and Uche Onyebadi, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism, who is originally from Nigeria.

Kiggundu will be in Southern Illinois from Monday, Feb. 27, to March 2.  An expert on business law and intellectual property law, Kiggundu will visit Schultz’s intellectual property class and an international business transactions class taught by law professor Cindy Buys.

During Kiggundu’s visit, Chancellor Rita Cheng will sign a memorandum of understanding between SIU Carbondale and the University of Botswana.  Schultz says that he and Kiggundu are looking forward to building on the relationship to create new opportunities for students and faculty at both schools. The University of Botswana is a young, but large and rapidly growing university that aims to be one of the top research universities in Africa, Schultz said.

Schultz is very excited about the relationship.  He said that Botswana is widely considered by development experts to be “one of the great success stories in development.” Today, Botswana is a thriving middle-income country, but just a generation ago it was a pastoral society with one-half mile of paved road and no stoplights, he said.  Botswana gained independence from Britain in 1966, and has since then maintained a healthy, multi-party constitutional democracy.

The SIU School of Law, the SIU Carbondale Department of Africana Studies, and the Southern Illinois chapter of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A. (UNA-USA), are event sponsors.