Photo: Alex Massek

SAASUM 2017: “Make a Difference, Not Just a Living”

Gillian Davies reviews the St Andrews Africa Summit.

Since its founding in February 2015, the St Andrews Africa Summit (SAASUM) has brought to the students and faculty of St Andrews the insights and ideas of leading minds in academia, business, and technology. Each speaker over the past three years has served to change the conversation from traditional discourse into a versatile, revitalised discussion that serves to change our perception of the continent. While the first two summits focused on the role of media in regard to social and economic perception, and the importance of enterprise and innovation, SAASUM 2017 focused on notions of leadership and governance in Africa.

The speakers of SAASUM 2017 used their experience and knowledge to share new perspectives on the roles of leadership and governance in various sectors, from sustainable water infrastructure to accessible healthcare on the continent.

Photo: Alex Massek

The list of speakers included Anton Earle, the director of the Stockholm International Water Institute’s Africa Regional Centre, who explained the ARC’s initiative to provide water security through an efficient and equitable water infrastructure, and the challenges presented to such programs by complexities of poor governance and corruption. In respect to leadership, Diego Menchaca, founder of Teamscope, which is a mobile service aimed at providing the IT infrastructure for clinical data services in communities plagued by low resources. His presentation on the work facilitated by Teamscope in various regions of Africa evidence the empowerment of local leaders and the progress that accompanies access to efficient healthcare.

Sir Mark Moody-Stuart came to shared his ideas about ethical, responsible leadership, as based upon his countless years spent working around the world leading various global organisations, authoring books on leadership and sustainable practices. He touched on concepts such as humanising global businesses and the importance of human rights in business. Deogratias “Deo” Niyizonkiza provided an inspiring presentation on the importance of social justice and human dignity through the lens of Village Health Works, a holistic clinic he founded in his home country of Burundi. He continues to work on the developmental model for the clinic, aiming to provide educational, agricultural, and environmental programs that use human resources and promote progress while fighting the inequality of health care that continues to plague the 21st century.

Photo: Alex Massek

Throughout the event, the entire audience remained highly engaged by the truly impressive group of speakers, each who brought an interesting personal perspective to the table. Not only were all four speakers highly accomplished, but having come from highly varied backgrounds, they each acted as an example of the phenomenal achievements that can be made possible through passion and a desire to better the world.

The SAASUM 2017 team, led by Rina Agboraw and Lindsay Stevens, put forth an event with incredible professionalism, bringing together an inspiring group of like-minded people to encourage and produce innovative thoughts and ideas. Everyone participating was genuine and candid, making the event a remarkable success. Followed by a thought-provoking panel discussion and a networking event, SAASUM continues to promote the conversation about where we are and what we can do to further a contemporary discourse about Africa, both as it is today, and where it will be tomorrow.

SAASUM’s goals are brought to realisation through the brilliant minds involved. To quote Deo Niyizonkiza in a statement during the panel discussion, “Make a difference, not just a living.”

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