In July and August I had the pleasure of working with the South Africa Node of the Millenium Project (SA Node). While there I worked on a feature for the Foresight for Development (FFD), platform which was designed to help spread futures thinking throughout Africa and elevate the level of foresight coming out of the region.
FFD is a great project with a lot of challenges. Getting a continent as large as Africa engaged on something as cerebral as futures thinking through a website is tricky to say the least. Geci Karuri-Sebina—chair of the SA Node—wrote chapter 2 in Futures of Technology in Africa where she analyzes the state of foresight in Africa. She points out that thinking about the future has been a part of some cultures in South Africa, in particular the khoisan, since before the field emerged. But despite this natural affinity towards thinking about the future, the modern state of the world might be preventing Africa as a whole from engaging in structured futures thinking since they are often dealing with putting out fires. Karuri-Sebina further argues for the importance of including Africa within global forecasts and scenarios, which is often not the case. After all, as she put’s it, “The emerging conclusion must be that Africa’s future matters globally.” So this is what FFD is trying to do. They have a big job ahead of them, and they have truly come far. I hope to continue working on the project and look forward to seeing where it might be in another 3 years.
FFD also has the largest library—digital or otherwise—of African foresight. My feature for the website of course focused on utilizing foresight methods for peacebuilding, and gathered all relevant material I could find on the subject under one roof. Read my feature here.
And please check out the website and sign up the for their monthly newsletters. You will receive monthly newsletters, all of which contain a treasure trove of further readings and insights regarding important topics in Africa ranging from environment to gender to democracy and currently economics, all with a futures perspective.
While working on the foresight for peace feature in South Africa I found myself trying to find a reference mentioned in an Article my Sohail Inayatullah. I emailed him asking where I might find it not expecting a response. Not only did he respond, but thanks to my electronic signature at the bottom of my email linked me up with the current editor of the Journal for Futures Studies, Jose Ramos. I sent both of them the concept paper I had been working on for foresight for peace to hear their feedback. As a result I am now working on writing my first article for an academic journal. Expect me to be published in the next year!