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Distinguished Africa Lecture 2024

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Distinguished Africa Lecture and Panel Discussion 2024

The Warwick Africa Hub was delighted to once again host our annual Distinguished Africa Lecture. This year's lecture was delivered by Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, United Nations University Rector and UN Under-Secretary General. The lecture focussed on Higher Education in Africa in the era of Artificial Intelligence. The lecture was preceded by a panel discussion themed around innovation and sustainable development.

The full press release is available here.

    Warwick Africa Hub

    We connect Warwick with African universities through our Africa Partnerships Strategy. Led by Academic Directors for Africa, Professor Franklyn Lisk and Professor Dan Branch, the strategy addresses global challenges and supports the development of the region’s research and education leaders.

    The Warwick Africa Hub Annual Distinguished Africa Lecture is designed to showcase world-leading African scholarship and to celebrate Warwick’s engagement with our partners.

      Watch our Distinguished Africa Lecture

      The full 2024 lecture is now available to view online.

      In this lecture, Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala looks at the current state of the Higher Education sector on the African continent, arguing for the reimagining of Higher Education in Africa through the lens of artificial intelligence (AI). He demonstrates the potential of AI to unlock a new development path for the next generation of leaders.

      Distinguished Africa Lecture 2024

      Monday 3 June 2024, 4:15pm

      University of Warwick, Oculus 0.03, and online

      Guest speaker: Professor Tshilidzi Marwala, United Nations University Rector & UN Under-Secretary-General

      Title: Higher Education in Africa in the era of Artificial Intelligence

      Higher education is undergoing a fundamental paradigm shift. In the age of artificial intelligence (AI), entire systems and processes are being redefined. Not only do institutions have to evolve and provide students with a thorough understanding of this shifting world, they also have to embrace these technologies in order to remain relevant. Africa presents an intriguing case study in this regard. The continent, despite its immense potential and talent pool, is trailing behind in its adoption of AI and in many ways, the education system leaves many wanting. As the rest of the world surges ahead with AI integration, Africa risks being left behind, widening its technological gap and hindering socio-economic development. Prof Marwala looks at the current state of the sector on the continent and makes the argument for reimagining higher education in Africa through the lens of AI. As he demonstrates, this could very well be the key to unlocking a new development path as a new generation of leaders are inspired and empowered.

      Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala, UNU Rector & UN Under-Secretary-General

      Picture of Prof Marwala

      Prof. Tshilidzi Marwala joined the United Nations University (UNU) as the University’s seventh Rector on 1 March 2023. In that role, he holds the rank of Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations.

      Since January 2018, Prof. Marwala served as Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Johannesburg, in South Africa. Under his leadership, he has positioned the university within the fourth industrial revolution to harness solutions to help Africa achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

      He has been a visiting scholar/professor at Harvard University; University of California, Berkeley; Wolfson College, University of Cambridge; Nanjing Tech University (China); Central South University (China); and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study.

      Prof. Marwala has extensive academic, policy, management, and international experience. His research has been multi-disciplinary, involving the theory and applications of artificial intelligence to engineering, social science, economics, politics, finance, and medicine. He is a co-holder of five patents.

      Prof. Marwala is, inter alia, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, The World Academy of Sciences (TWAS), the Academy of Science of South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences, and the South African Academy of Engineering. He has served on a variety of global and national policymaking bodies, including as Deputy Chair of South Africa’s Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Chair of the Africa Centre of Excellence in Internet of Things in Rwanda and Chair of Africa Health Research Institute. He has also worked with the United Nations through agencies such as UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO, and WIPO.

      Prof. Marwala is the author of more than 20 books ― including Leadership Lessons from Books I Read (2021), Leading in the 21st Century: The Call for a New Type of African Leader (2021), and Closing the Gap: The Fourth Industrial Revolution in Africa (2020) ― and dozens of book chapters, journal papers, and conference papers. He has published more than 200 magazine articles and newspaper op-eds. Prof. Marwala has received numerous awards, including the Order of Mapungubwe, South Africa’s highest honour, and the Academy of South Africa’s Science-for-Society Gold Medal, and was named the 2021 IT Personality of the Year by the Institute of IT Professionals South Africa.

      Since August 2023, Prof. Marwala has become a member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s (newly created) Scientific Advisory Board.

      Africa Lecture Panel Discussion

      Monday 3 June 2024, 2pm - 3:30pm

      University of Warwick, Oculus 0.03, and online

      Title: Innovation and Sustainability: Confronting Challenges and Seizing Opportunities for Transforming Africa

      Chair: Professor Michael Scott, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International)

      Introduction by: Professor Manuel Junior Guilherme, Rector of Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique

      Moderator: Professor Kevin Ibeh, Commissioner, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) Birkbeck, University of London


      • Prof Mills Soko, Wits Business School, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
      • Dr Louise Walker, Head of Department, FCDO, UK Government, London
      • Dr Hany Besada, Senior Policy Adviser, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Government of Canada, Ottawa
      • Dr Penelope Muzanenhamo, Assistant Professor in Marketing and Society, University College Dublin, College of Business
      • Mike Podmore, Visiting Research Fellow Interdisciplinary Methods, University of Warwick

      Our Panel Discussion will take place before the lecture and will be themed around Innovation and Sustainable Development. This event will also be a hybrid event, available to attend on the University of Warwick campus or online.

      This form is closed and is no longer accepting any submissions. Thank you for your time.

      Africa Partnerships Team

      Supporting the Academic Directors for Africa, Prof Lisk and Prof Dan Branch, the Partnerships Team are here to help facilitate partnership development across Africa.

      Picture of Corrina Greenwood

      Corrina Greenwood

      International Partnerships Manager

      International Strategy and Relations

      Picture of Joelle Maurice

      Joëlle Maurice

      International Partnerships Officer

      International Strategy and Relations