News Releases

Navigating Pan-African Development: Calls for greater connection to the African Continent

For Release Upon Receipt - September 15, 2023

St. Augustine

St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. September 15, 2023- From July 26 to 28, 2023, the spotlight shone on the Faculty of the Social Sciences at The University of the West Indies (The UWI), St. Augustine Campus. The institution played a key role in hosting the Tenth Anniversary Conference of the Pan-African Enterprise Research Council (PAERC 2023) during the Ninth Year of the United Nations International Decade of People of African Descent (2015-2024). Under the theme "Transition and Trajectories in Pan-African Development," this conference saw the convergence of participants, both physically and virtually. Dr. Acolla Lewis-Cameron, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at The UWI, St. Augustine, and Dr. Ralph Henry, Chairman of PAERC, extended a warm welcome to all.

 The inaugural ceremony featured addresses from key figures such as Mr. Aldwyn Wayne, a Trinidad and Tobago Entrepreneur and Founder and CEO of WiPay Payment Solutions Limited and Colour Bank, the Honourable Mrs. Paula Gopee-Scoon, the Minister of Trade and Industry of Trinidad and Tobago, and Dr. Carla Barnett, Secretary General of CARICOM along with PAERC Members representing Trinidad and Tobago and South Africa.

Mr. Wayne, as the Feature Speaker, offered valuable insights into navigating barriers faced by Afro-descendants when entering specific economic sectors. Minister Gopee-Scoon underscored the potential for unity, empowerment, and progress through Pan-African development and advocated for deeper integration with the African continent to create new avenues for increased trade and investments in both regions.

 Dr. Barnett, addressing the conference virtually, highlighted the collaborative efforts of Heads of Government and the CARICOM Reparations Commission, led by Sir Hilary Beckles, UWI Vice Chancellor. She celebrated the recent establishment of Afreximbank in Barbados as a testament to the drive to boost trade and investment between Caribbean countries and Africa while pledging the Secretariat's support in strengthening ties with the African Union.

 The Most Honourable PJ Patterson, of the PJ Patterson Institute of Africa-Caribbean Advocacy, delivered a compelling virtual address, demonstrating the timeless relevance of Marcus Garvey's ideas in fostering connections between the African Diaspora in the Caribbean and the continent of Africa.

 Over the conference's two days, scholarly panels featuring experts from the African Diaspora, the Americas, and Africa engaged in deep discussions. They delved into penetrating analyses of historical issues, offering practical solutions and recommendations to address contemporary challenges faced by Afro-descendants, stemming from centuries of enslavement and colonial rule. The conference also showcased a success story in youth development in East Port of Spain/Laventille and featured a high-impact panel of successful entrepreneurs sharing their experiences operating in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, the wider Caribbean, and Canada.

 The conference was attended by dignitaries including Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal, The UWI, St. Augustine, Mr. Ugo Blanco (Resident Representative, UNDP TT), H.E. Ambassador Anthony Phillips-Spencer (Permanent Resident, OAS & USA), and Mr. Everald Gally Cummings.


 About The University of the West Indies

 The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region for the past 75 years.

 From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona<> in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill<> in Barbados, Five Islands<> in<> Antigua and Barbuda and its<> Global Campus, and global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

 The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

 The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean in the World University Rankings, it is also in the top 25 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

 2023 marks The UWI’s 75th anniversary. The Diamond jubilee milestone themed “UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising.” features initiatives purposely designed and aligned to reflect on the past, confront the present, and articulate plans for the future of the regional University.

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