On 12 February 2020, Nico Schneider, current Rotary Peace Fellow at the Brisbane-based University of Queensland, conducted a joint seminar for ACCORD staff and members of the Rotary E-Club of South Africa One from the Durban area. Nico presented the Rotary Peace Fellowship program and facilitated a session related to his research on technology and peacebuilding.
In January 2020, Rotary announced a new peace center at Makerere University in Kampala – the first of its kind in Africa. Starting in February, peace and development professionals are invited to apply for the completely remodelled certificate program. During the conversation with Nico, ACCORD’s colleagues learned about his experiences, mingled with local Rotarians, and received practical information about the application process.
In a second session, Nico presented his research on the relationship between new technologies and peacebuilding. His particular interest is to examine the effects tech-enhanced peace work has on local ownership. In his view, peace professionals need to understand better how artificial intelligence, and big data analytics influence the agency of people in (post-)conflict communities. Nico pointed out that “the issue is particularly relevant in Sub-Saharan Africa, as the region becomes an experimental ground for tech-projects of humanitarian and peacebuilding actors.”
For ACCORD, it is the first time to host a Rotary Peace Fellow during his eight-week applied field experience. Many more may follow as Vasu Gounden, founder and Executive Director of ACCORD, emphasizes, “We seek to establish institutional partnerships with Rotary International and the Peace center in Queensland. Welcoming a peace fellow at ACCORD is the first step.”
Rotary International’s Peace centers program, inaugurated in Africa during late 2019, has shown practical evidence with the arrival of the peace fellow. With a continent still afflicted with protracted conflicts, this development is likely to deliver the medium to long-term peace agents that both Rotary and ACCORD seek to provide capacity.