In 2008, SYPALA saw yet another successful session. The momentum of the previous year had gathered more force and the theme for this year was “Liberty Abreast African Intellect”. The venue was once again the premier Ashesi University with an overflow of speakers rich in knowledge and ready to share their wisdom to participants. The speakers who graced the seminar were from a wide range of backgrounds such as businessmen, journalists, pharmaceutical companies, think tanks, the banking sector, political scientists, academics, military officers, technology gurus, among others.
The first session was on Privacy in an Age of Internet Domination with a representative from NHIA making a presentation on the National Health Insurance Database System. There was another presentation by a representative from NIA speaking on the National Identification Authority Project. These two presentations were especially useful seeing as Ghana is moving towards being more technologically savvy with health insurance and national identification being inclusive of this shift and what issues of privacy may arise with registered citizenry under both of these programs.
The second segment addressed 6 tips on preventing coup d’états in Africa with the presentation coming from none other than the men at the forefront, retired military Generals Major General John Attipoe and Lt. General Arnold Quainoo (retd) who gave some remarks on ethics and patriotism training for the modern African Army and Civil-Military Relationships in Africa using some contemporary perspectives as examples.
There was also a round table discussion on having a Liberal Healthcare regime in Africa with the Keynote speaker, Mr. Nathaniel Otoo, Director of Administration at the National Health Insurance Authority on the topic of Ghana’s National Health Insurance and whether there were any pitfalls ahead of the rolling out of the insurance scheme. This further opened the platform to other professionals in the health and pharmaceutical industry presenting on topics such as drug patents and pharmaceutical innovation, prescription costs as well as the dynamics of local medicine supply.
There was also a segment on what constitutes Good Governance and Economic Prosperity with a series of presentations from enlightened persons on the topic such as Professor Ken Atafuah from the Justice & Human Rights Institute who gave a symposium on the rule of law and the accountability of public institutions.
The last segment of the conference was on the Foundations of International Trade with many speakers giving their insight on the system of international. Notably, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson and Bright Simons gave an exposition on the topic to further assess the impact of international trade on African players, in what they titled; Chinese Dragon; African Prey which sought to look at whether the Chinese were hampering Africa’s development by “preying” on its resources.
The significance of this seminar cannot be understated as one participant, Sasha Nuer expressed his gratitude for being a part of this experience and cited it as the turning point in his life after being fed up with seeing the lackadaisical manner in which development policies were initiated and implemented in Ghana and other developing countries and so was thrilled to be part of a group that was brainstorming on various national and other development issues affecting the African continent.
The themes and discussion on these pertinent issues during the forum brought more understanding to fully grasp the complex and huge gap present in policy decision making in Ghana and other developing countries. This further inspired him to leave his well paid job to pursue a higher calling in a master’s program with the guidance and mentoring from some of the facilitators of the program who helped him choose an applied research university in order to become more knowledgeable and have the innate capacity to bridge the gap between rural and national policy decision making in Ghana.
It is unsurprising for a participant to leave the seminar feeling inspired to do more their nation and Africa as a whole with the desire to actively take part in pursuing the good of the continent.