Friday,21 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1272, (26 November - 2 December 2015)
Friday,21 September, 2018
Issue 1272, (26 November - 2 December 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Kicking off the Model African Union

The Model African Union launched its 2015 round in Cairo two weeks ago, reports Aya Nader

Al-Ahram Weekly

Around 150 students from 13 universities representing ten countries had the chance to discuss important topics at the Model African Union throughout Egypt this month. Among the topics was the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), discussed during the anthropology session before the official opening of the round. 


“Our aim is to spread awareness of African issues and assert African identity,” said Samah Youssef, an economics professor at Cairo University and the academic supervisor of student activities. She said that the Model African Union is a bridge of communication between Egyptian and foreign students.

“Egypt is not against the building of the GERD, but it has concerns over its technicalities,” said Sahar Mohamed, a teaching assistant at the African Institute for Research and Studies at Cairo University.

“Through this Model African Union, and African communication more generally, we aim to open up to the African continent,” said Hussein Mourad, deputy head of the African Institute in Cairo. Egypt has a lot to offer its African siblings, he said, through capacity building as part of its leading role on the continent.

“Young people are capable of conducting talks the same way officials do,” said Hanadi Roshdy, a spokesperson from the State Information Service (SIS) in Cairo, adding that Africa today has immense population resources that will be of benefit for the future.

More than a billion people live in Africa today, a number capable of turning the continent into another China in five years, said Nader Fath Al-Aleem, the African Union (AU) ambassador to Egypt.

“Young people will accomplish this as a result of their willpower and persistence,” he said. Al-Aleem added that the Model African Union focussed particularly on the 2063 African agenda, dubbed “The Africa We Want.”

Delegates at the Model Union presented papers proposing solutions to the problems of Africa. Mohamed said that it is through conducting research and discussing current issues that young people can move away from selfishness or self-absorption.

The Cairo University Institute not only conducts the annual round of the Model Union, but also holds workshops for school children between 12 and 18 years of age. Children were also asked to present research at this year’s event, though on a smaller scale. “They have inspired topics for masters’ theses,” Youssef said.

The Model’s opening day coincided with African Youth Day, adopted by the AU in 2006, and this saw students sharing experiences from last year’s Model. The student activity is under the patronage of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the AU and the SIS, and has been held for the past three years. 

“You are the future,” AU Ambassador Al-Aleem said. “The next century is African.”

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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