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Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa

Editorial
Africa and the Challenges of the Second Decade of the 21st Century:
Constraints and Opportunities

The year 2011 is the year of the 13th General Assembly of CODESRIA. The General Assembly is the highest governing organ of CODESRIA. It is the body that makes the most important policy decisions of the Council, elects the Executive Committee, and elects the President and the Vice President of CODESRIA. In the 38 years of its existence, CODESRIA has had 12 Presidents and the succession from Executive Committee to the other, and from one president to the next have been very smooth.

The General Assembly is coupled with a scientific conference which provides the African social science research community with a great opportunity to reflect on the challenges facing our continent and on the ways in which the social sciences are addressing those challenges, paying particular attention to CODESRIA’s own role. CODESRIA General Assemblies are also extraordinary occasions for scholars coming from various parts of the world to meet and share discussion platforms, and as well as moments of conviviality.

The 13th General Assembly of CODESRIA is being organised at a time when the world as a whole is facing formidable challenges that include global environmental change; a highly unstable global financial system; extreme pressures on land, mineral, water and other natural resources; the formidable development of new technologies that are impacting on almost everything, from the way we communicate to the way we do research, trade, grow crops, and organise and engage in civic, humanitarian or political action; and the governance of the behaviour of increasingly complex private entrepreneurs whose everyday actions often pose threats to the public good. Africa is faced with additional challenges of being handicapped by centuries of externally induced oppression and pillage whose effects on the freedom and welfare of our people have been very negative, extremely fragmented regional political, economic and scientific spaces, and many flaws in the governance systems, and in the economic and social policies framed at various levels.