Rome-based Catholic Development Agency to Celebrate Africa’s Innovativeness at Anniversary

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Part of the upcoming 20th Anniversary of Harambee Africa International (HAI) celebrations in Rome will be dedicated to the ingenuity of the youth in African countries.

HAI Communications officer, Rossella Miranda, told ACI Africa that the last day of the celebrations that have been scheduled to take place in Rome on September 28-29 and 30 “will be completely addressed to Africa”.

“There will be an award ceremony too,” Ms. Miranda told ACI Africa on Wednesday, September 14, making reference to scheduled recognition of content creators who participated in the widely publicized contest “Communicating Africa” that sought to create visibility for the continent.

HAI, a project created on the occasion of the canonization of founder of Opus Dei, St. Josemaría Escrivá, is celebrating 20 years of “commitment to international solidarity” and “the start of concrete initiatives that will take place over the coming years,” the foundation has announced in a statement shared with ACI Africa.

Apart from the award ceremony, the planned symposium will see authoritative personalities engaged in various development projects from across the globe identify innovative and common responses to the most current challenges.


On the final day of the symposium, HAI will address the theme of “social innovation and young people in Africa”, an occasion that will see young African innovators feted.

“This will be an opportunity to meet, recall the origins and rethink the mission and objectives of Harambee, looking to the future with the eyes and heart of a continent full of young people,” the foundation has said, and added, “During the third day of this symposium, the good ideas and projects of some young African entrepreneurs will be celebrated and awarded, and the award ceremony of the IX Harambee Prize ‘Conveying Africa’ will take place.”

The final day, conveners of the symposium say, will also be “an opportunity to thank all those who have contributed their grain of sand in a climate of hope over the past 20 years.”

The first day of the Symposium will be dedicated to a dialogue between people of different beliefs and responsibilities, HAI says, and explains, “Two roundtables will take place: in one, the social challenges faced and the effective project responses will be analyzed.”

In the other roundtable, professionals will share their experiences in different fields and international contexts.

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Issues that will be deliberated upon by the professionals include the pandemic and conflict in Europe, as well as the climate emergency, which HAI says are affecting a variety of sectors and spheres of life across the globe.

“In the face of a growing sense of uncertainty about the near future, it is essential to strengthen unity and collaboration in order to create solidarity-based and sustainable responses,” officials of the Rome-based Catholic development agency say.

They add, “Harambee wishes, therefore, to offer a space for reflection and confrontation to explore innovative strategies and actions between actors from public or private, local, national or international, religiously inspired or civically motivated organizations, in a climate of collaboration and within common objectives.”

The second day of the symposium will bring together 150 people from 30 countries who, inspired by St. Josemaría, work in initiatives that promote human development.

The day, HAI has said, will begin with a lecture by Fr. Fernando Ocáriz, Prelate of Opus Dei and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, and will continue with workshops and exchanges of experiences.


Professionals from Africa who have confirmed their participation in the symposium include Dr. Vincent Ogutu, the Vice-Chancellor Designate of Kenyan-based Strathmore University; H.E. Angelina Baiden-Amissah, Ambassador of Ghana to the Holy See; George Johannes, a former Ambassador of South Africa to the Holy See, and Enase Okonedo from the Pan-Atlantic University in Nigeria.

Other participants in the symposium are HAI President, Raffaele Izzo and other scholars from Rome-based Universities and other Catholic institutions.

Established in 2002 with headquarters in Rome, HAI contributes to enhancing the potential of the different realities of Sub-Saharan Africa through strengthening the capacity of local human resources, and in supporting African entities in the implementation of projects in the field of basic education, vocational training, academia and business.

The Catholic development agency has also expressed a desire to deepen knowledge about Africa in order to overcome stereotypes and contribute to a culture of coexistence and complementarity on the continent.

In its mission statement, the agency says, “A too often short-sighted vision of Africa does not help us to grasp the great changes underway where, despite some extreme criticalities, we have the highest rates of expansion in the world.”

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Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.