Unlocking new horizons: A journey of a thousand miles through the IAF Africa Regional Conference
From 23 to 26 October 2023, facilitators from across Africa and beyond convened in Sululta at the Africa Leadership Excellence Academy (AFLEX) in Ethiopia to attend the IAF Africa Region Conference.
This transformative event was organised by the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) Africa Region in collaboration with AFLEX and powered by ACE Advisors on the theme of "Facilitation in a Changing Africa".
One of the most remarkable aspects of the conference was the diversity it brought together, with over 47 participants from eight countries, including India, Jamaica, Paris, Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia. We were exposed to a rich tapestry of cultures and experiences. This global perspective expanded our horizons and allowed us to forge connections with facilitators from different corners of the world.
In the words of Dr. Mehret Debebe, the Chief of AFLEX:
Facilitation is a unique skill that gives memorable professional experience to humanity, and that's what leaders need today to shape their ways of work.
In the era of technology and Artificial Intelligence, facilitation has an unmatched comparative advantage of sustaining a human touch with soft skills through all learning trajectories. Aligned with this wisdom is the experience facilitators got during the conference, as highlighted below.
1. The networking with the warmth and connection from facilitators coming from different poles of the world.
2. The learning, unlearning and re-learning of new tools, methods and approaches of facilitation. For example, using the Rich African proverbs and smart facilitation techniques to inspire creative thinking in facilitating the dynamics change processes across the African development spectrum.
3. The taste of the rich and powerful Ethiopian culture. The Coffee Ceremony that breeds togetherness, dialogue, and love. The Ethiopian dance was magical, a center of joy and fitness. We danced, danced and danced and were fed with rich Ethiopian dishes with iconic spices and aromas. The organic juices and teas kept the team healthy and happy. We will forever cherish the memories of the AFLEX hospitality.
4. The discussion, exploration, and engagement on different cases where facilitation has broken ground confirmed the power of facilitation in peacebuilding and sustainable Africa. Specific to this was the sharing by Destiny Ethiopia, which has been instrumental in influencing the adoption and endorsement of the National Dialogue in Ethiopia backed by an Act of Parliament and the Pan-African conversation that challenged facilitators to use their skills in deepening the values and principles of Pan-Africanism.
5. The fun, the laughter, the vibe and connections, the Partnerships, and the bond created among facilitators were evident and stronger than when we had entered AFLEX. The tours around the city gave us an appreciation of the beautiful Ethiopian historical features in the city of "Civilization". The learning tour at the Ethiopian Airlines Aviation University - the New Spirit of Africa - gave facilitators renewed hope and pride that the African dream is possible.
We left more energised and with conviction to promote the power of facilitation in Africa and the world with innovation and agility.
We will convene again in 2024 in the Pearl of Africa. See you then!
Regional Director for Africa
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