The Chief Host, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, Founder & Chancellor, ABUAD, with representative of organizers, Queen Modestus, Director, Centre for China-Africa Discourse Studies

China-Africa Discourse Studies Centre collaborates with ABUAD to deepen Africa, China inter-university scientific cooperation

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By Ranti Thomas

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The 1st Africa-Asia Intercontinental Universities Conference, superintended by the Center for China-Africa Discourse Studies (CECADS) in collaboration Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), has highlighted the importance and significance of fostering greater inter-university scientific collaboration between Africa and China.

With the theme: “Building Bridges for Advancing the SDGs: Enhancing Inter-University Scientific Collaboration between Africa and China” the conference, which held at ABUAD, Ado-Ekiti, between April 29-30, 2024, showed the advantages of harnessing the power of partnerships to address some of the most pressing issues facing the planet.

The conference, which paraded eminent Keynote Sleakers, including Prof. Shi-Xu, the Director of the Center for Contemporary Chinese Discourse Studies, Hangzhou Normal University, and Prof. Liu Hongwu Wu, Director, Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, was divided into three main substantive themes:
. Higher Education and the SDGs;
. Diplomatic Discourse and the SDGs, and
. Role of Students and Youth in SDG Implementation.

Moderated by high-level panellists, including Dr. Michael M. E., Executive Director, Center for Nigerian Studies, Institute for African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, Zhang Jianming, the First Executive Vice President of Zhejiang Chinese Culture Overseas Promotion Association and former Vice President of Zhejiang Provincial Party CommitteeTracy Huo (Huo Jiangtao), Vice Chairman of the Belt and Road African Studies Alliance, Special Assistant to the Dean, Institute of African Studies, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, discusions dwelt how the world continues to grapple with pressing challenges, highlighting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a beacon of hope and guiding light towards a more sustainable and equitable global future.

It emphasised, however, that achieving these goals requires concerted action and collaboration across borders and disciplines.

Against this backdrop, the conference emphasized the pivotal role of the SDGs in advancing and fostering greater inter-university scientific collaboration between Africa and China.

Under the Chief Host, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, Founder & Chancellor, ABUAD, with representatives of organizers, including Professor Smaranda Olarinde, FCAI, FCArb, Vice Chancellor, ABUAD; Queen Modestus, Director, Centre for China-Africa Discourse Studies

Participants at the conference

, and Professor Damilola Olawuyi, SAN, Chairman, Conference Planning Committee, the conference achieved its ultimate goal of bringing together leading diplomats, international relations experts, sustainability educators, university teachers, trainers, practitioners and students from China and Nigeria to exchange knowledge, experience and learn from each other on how to enhance scientific cooperation and partnerships needed to advance all aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Indeed, the interdisciplinary conference provided a platform for sharing and exchanging information on the resources, skills, approaches, and methodologies needed to equip students and future administrators and diplomats in China-Africa relations with law and governance skills to advance the SDGs in their spheres of operation.

It also acknowledged the importance of higher education and inter-university cooperation in advancing sustainable development, with the plenary sessions and workshops providing an opportunity for sharing information and best practices on priority topics, innovative technologies, and knowledge resources to strengthen South-South scientific cooperation between faculty, students and researchers in China and African Universities.

Specifically on Higher Education and the SDGs, one of the conference three main themes, it was noted that with the expansion of higher education participation, university has acquired a larger potential for contributing to societal development.

Discussants and speakers focused particularly on the role of universities in China and Africa in advancing the successful implementation of SDGs, specifically on issues related to green growth, circular economy, renewable energy development, green investment and trade, green financing, and climate-smart infrastructure development amongst others.

Similarly, on Diplomatic Discourse and the SDGs, the conference noted that with the advancement of globalization, the exchanges between countries, especially African countries and China have become more and more frequent and the importance of diplomatic discourse that promotes international relations, especially Africa-China relations on a global stage has become inevitable and significant for numerous countries, especially African countries and China.

In this section, discussants speakers discussed the latest developments in the international relations, including innovative educational techniques, legal tools, best practices, interdisciplinary research, resources and simulation models aimed at not only transforming the SDGs into scalable impact at local levels in Africa and China, but could also help in advancing the successful implementation of SDGs globally.

On Role of Students and Youth in SDG Implementation, the the conference emphasised the roles that young people have played a pivotal role in instigating and driving significant changes globally.

“They have also instigated significant advances in terms of human development, community development and social change initiative for sustainable value creation; this is of considerable importance in the pursuit of SDGs,” it noted.

However, the conference submitted that “challenges remain; progress has been uneven, with many young people across the world still experiencing high level of poverty and limited access to educational opportunities and decent role.”

In this section, speakers focused on:

(i) the role of youth-led entrepreneurial innovation in curbing poverty and unemployment challenges and what the international community needs to do to provide the necessary entrepreneurial skills that will enable young graduates to ease the transition from education to develop their own projects and business, which in turn, could help in advancing the implementation of SGDs globally, especially among African and China youth;

(ii) Current capacity development gaps and needs of industries, agencies and ministries, and how they can be met within the context of SDGs.

Indeed, the two-day conference can be said to have achieved its objectives and goals as the Alfa Belgore Conference Centre, ABUAD, Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State, its venue was full to the brim with eminent diplomats from China, Nigeria and elsewhere; educators, university teachers, trainers, practitioners and students from China and Nigeria engaged in high-level discussions and engagements.

The organizers, the Centre for China-Africa Discourse Studies (CECADS), eminently represented by Queen Modestus, its Director; and ABUAD, would be fulfilled about the outcome of the historic conference.

Goodwill messages were delivered from
His Excellency, Mr. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, Executive Governor of Ekiti State; Professor Tahir Mamman, Minister for Education, Federal Republic of Nigeria; Ms. Yan Yuqing, Consul-General of the People’s Republic of China in Nigeria; Ambassador Ogu Chimezie Okeoma, Consul-General of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Shanghai; Prof. Zhao Hongling, Chinese Director of Confucius Institute of University of Lagos, UNILAG.

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