From 25th to 28th August 2022 more than 220 participants from more than 50 National Scout Organizations (NSOs) that are members of the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) across Africa and beyond met in Nairobi for the 18th Africa Scout Conference that took place at the KCB Leadership Centre.
United under the theme “Shaping Connected Futures” the Conference highlighted the Scouting’s commitment to supporting young people to re-imagine a future where their dreams and aspirations and intertwined individually and collectively with the prosperity of each other and the sustainability of our planet. It further expressed its resolve to work with young people and adults to create lasting solutions to overcome the challenges faced by young people and their communities and the world.
With a focus on young people and development, resilience and adaptability, connections between people, sustainability, advocacy and influence, and technology and innovation, the Conference agenda offered the participants great opportunities to contribute to shaping the future direction of the Scout Movement in Africa.
Good governance is essential for running a successful National Scout Organization and creating a positive image of the Movement within a country. Those with weaker governance processes often find it difficult to deliver a sustained high-quality programme to their youth members and struggle to retain their adult leaders.
WOSM takes good governance seriously and has even developed its own Global Support Assessment Tool to assist NSOs to improve their capacities in this area through continuous collaboration and capacity building of national leadership teams in effective decision-making in national boards, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, institutional matters (development and review of national constitutions), membership and financial management.
Being the governing organ of the Africa Scout Region, held every three years, the Africa Scout Conference reinforces this priority by formulating the general policy of the region through resolutions and electing members of the Africa Scout Committee to act on its behalf in between its meetings.
Coming on the backdrop of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the recently held conference helped to further galvanize and strengthen the Scout Movement in Africa in many ways. Here are six important functions the Africa Scout Conference plays in the governance of the Scout Movement in Africa enabling it to continue supporting the education and development of millions of young people across the continent.
Reconnecting the Movement
An important part of Scouting is to meet and interact with people from around the world. The conference provided the first in-person opportunity for the Scout Movement in Africa to come together post-COVID-19 pandemic which had led to the halting of travels and outdoor activities. These opportunities help to unite and celebrate the diversity of the movement.
At the 18th Africa Scout Conference, participants reconnected with each other after more than three years in a beautiful display of friendship, diversity, and global solidarity regardless of their nationalities, gender, religion, and status – something the world needs today.
Despite being a platform for serious discussions, the conference also enjoyed a lot of music and dance symbolizing the great energy and positive spirit that characterizes our Movement. The participants reaffirmed the Scout Promise as a reminder of the Movement’s shared values, unity, and strength.
At the end of the conference, the participants went back home re-energized and motivated to keep Scouting vibrant and enable young people to contribute to the betterment of their communities through service.
Learning from Each Other
The conference agenda provides many opportunities for shared learning where participants engage in plenary sessions, workshops, marketplace showcases and informal meetings.
The 18th Africa Scout conference for instance delivered educational sessions in areas such as safeguarding, crisis communications, strategy development, partnerships and resource mobilization, constitutions and good governance, membership growth and post-pandemic recovery among others.
All of these help to build the capacity of national leaders to apply good governance and best management practices for the stability and sustainability of Scouting locally.
In reiterating Safe from Harm as a key priority for WOSM, participants were taken through a presentation on this area of work with an emphasis on the need for National Scout Organizations to comply with the constitutional requirement on Safe from Harm passed at the 42nd World Scout Conference.
Inspiring Action and Impact
The conference invites industry leaders to share different perspectives with the participants to inspire new ideas and innovation to keep the Scout movement dynamic, relevant, and responsive to the changing needs of young people and global circumstances.
At this edition, Mrs Zainab Hawa Bangoura the Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi officiated the opening ceremony. While recognizing the vital work of the Scout Movement in shaping the values and ideals of children and young people, she encouraged the movement to work more closely with UN Secretariat, agencies, funds and programmes, and the Member States across the continent and beyond to tap into the fresh ideas, perspectives, innovations, and energy which the young bring to old problems.
The keynote speaker H.E Bening Ahmed Wiisichong, Secretary-General of the Pan-African Youth Union on his part challenged the conference by saying that “our vision as a social force must be to scale-up meaningful youth engagements and participation across the globe, anchored on a revitalized and durable spirit of volunteerism.” The regional and global leaders of WOSM that spoke at the conference also reinforced the idea of the conference as a space for inspiration toward greater action and impact.
Giving Future Direction to the Movement
Among the key decisions made by the Conference is reviewing the report of the past triennium and making key decisions on the future direction of the Movement. The 18th Africa Scout Conference received and adopted a report and declaration of the 9th Africa Scout Youth Forum which closed on 23 August together with the Triennial Report of the Africa Scout Committee on the progress Scouting in Africa has made towards realizing the objectives of the 2018-2021 Regional Triennial Plan approved at the previous conference.
Through a robust WOSM eVoting system, participants had an opportunity to engage decision-making process at the Africa Scout Conference where they voted to endorse proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Africa Scout Region, proposed resolutions from the 9th Africa Scout Youth Forum as well as the election of four new members to the 2022-2025 Africa Scout Committee that will be led by Main Kiranga and Armand Djeigo as Chairperson and Vice Chairperson respectively.
The conference also voted to approve the Regional Triennial plan 2022-2025 and to appoint the hosts of future regional Scout events. Consequently, Burundi will host the 9th Africa Scout Jamboree in 2024, Madagascar will host the 19th Africa Scout Conference and 10th Africa Scout Youth Forum in 2025 and South Africa to host the 2nd Africa Rover Moot in 2026. Before then, young people aged 18-26 years will be back in Nairobi from 15th to 25th April 2022 for the 1st Africa Rover Moot to be hosted by Kenya Scouts Association.
Collaborating with Strategic Partners
In recognizing the important support provided by partners of Scouting, the Conference listened to a panel discussion with UNICEF East and Central Africa Regional Office, Africa for SDGs and the Institute for Economics and Peace. The panel highlighted the different areas of collaboration and challenged the movement to leverage its regional and global membership for greater impact, individually and collectively, and to turn the bulging African youth population into a positive force for its development.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between WOSM Africa and the Institute for Economics and Peace that will see the joint development and implementation of peace education and peace-building programmes, projects and activities targeting young people at grassroots, national and regional levels. This shall be backed by research and youth-led policy advocacy on Scouting’s contribution to peace and sustainable development in Africa.
Other partners in attendance included the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation, SOS Children's Villages and government representatives from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Mali and the Central African Republic. The conference also received support from Kenya Airways which offered discounted airfares for participants into and out of Kenya
The Africa Scout Foundation, an organ of the Africa Scout Region established to mobilize and continuously accumulate and invest a capital fund towards ensuring a future for Scouting in Africa, also held its Investor Forum on the sidelines of the Conference. At this gala event, the Foundation welcomed and recognized new members across the different categories and elected a new board for a five-year term until 2027. The Foundation raises funds through donations, grants, membership contributions and non-capital donations to support specific Scouting projects and other legal methods of fundraising.
Recognizing Exemplary Work of Volunteers and Young People
Scouting is a volunteer-led movement. Over 600,000 adults across the Africa Scout Region spare their time, expertise and even resources week-in-week-out to ensure the over 4.5 million young people benefit from Scouting's life-changing youth programmes in thousands of local communities. These volunteers are not paid, yet are the backbone of the movement, without whom Scouting would not exist. The conference offers a great opportunity for the movement to recognize and celebrate their sacrifices and commitment and award those who have rendered exemplary service to the movement.
During the 18th Africa Scout Conference, the World Scout Committee presented Mrs Jemima Nartey from Ghana with the Bronze Wolf Award to acknowledge her outstanding service to the World Scout Movement over the years. Seven other individuals, Ignatius Kajengo of Zimbabwe, Nkosinathi Nxumalo of Eswatini, Joseph Lopis of Senegal, Palamwe Ayim of Togo, Milly Siebrits of South Africa, Gilbert Mussumba of DR Congo and Ezekiel Malenya of Botswana received the Africa Elephant Award from the Africa Scout Committee in recognition of their outstanding service to Scouting in Africa.
Another group of 7 young people received the Africa Scout Award from the Africa Scout Committee for their exemplary contribution to the cause of Scouting in their local, national, and international communities. They are Sheldon Marumbu and Ivy Murugi of of Kenya, Safidy Randriamitantsoa of Madagascar, M’boh Hermann and Kouakou Koffi of Cote d’Ivoire, Kenneth Geoffrey of Nigeria and Ggayi Angello of Uganda.
National Scout Organizations of Kenya, DR Congo and Tanzania were also recognized for their efforts in growing the movement in their countries. Also recognized were the outgoing members of the Africa Scout Committee, outgoing board members and ambassadors of the Africa Scout Foundation.
The 18th Africa Scout Conference reaffirmed Scouting in Africa as a democratic and value-based movement committed to the principles of good governance and its outcomes provided a clear roadmap for the region over the next three years.
Focus now shifts to implementing the resolutions of the conference and the Triennial Plan 2022-2025 which emphasizes six key areas of Focus on 6 key areas of Educational Methods, Good Governance, Safe from Harm, Communications and Partnerships, Growth and Pandemic Recovery, and Sustainability. Visit https://africa.scoutconference.org to learn more about the 9th Africa Scout Youth Forum and 18th Africa Scout Conference.
Written by Nelson Opany - Senior Manager, Communications and Partnerships, World Scout Bureau Africa Support Centre Nairobi.