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AfriNEAD Conference tackles disability and inclusion

4 September 2017

Kimasu, Ghana – The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) College of Health Sciences in partnership with the African Network for Evidence-to-Action in Disability (AfriNEAD) and Stellenbosch University hosted an international conference from the 7th to the 9th of August 2017 under the theme, “Disability and Inclusion in Africa: The role of Assistive Technology.”

The joint conference attracted the academia, civil society, government officials and disability organisations from Sub Saharan Africa, Europe and America – all of them making submissions and presentations of how assistive technology and digital disruptions were advancing and enabling inclusive participation of persons with disabilities in socio-economic platforms.

Representing the President of Ghana as the Guest of Honour was the Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Honourable Otiko Afisah Djaba who remarked, “Locally and internationally, laws and statutes make provision for disability inclusion; the Ghana Disability Law Act 715, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNRCPD) and the Sustainable Development Goal 4 all putting emphasis on inclusion as a prerequisite to equality and justice.”

“In Africa, the inclusion of persons with disability has been somewhat slow although a lot of strides have been made – the progress, admittedly, has not matched the talk and the good intentions.

“Nonetheless, the Government of Ghana, through my Ministry remains committed to ensuring the full inclusion and active participation of persons with disabilities,” added Honourable Djaba.

Speaking on the progress of disability inclusion in South Africa, the Premier of the Western Cape Province, Cape Town, Helen Zille, applauded South Africa for ratifying the UNCRPD in 2007 but lamented the slow progress from intention to action.

The Asantehene and Chancellor of KNUST, His Royal Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, concurred with Mrs Helen Zille on the slow progress of actioning the statutes of the UNCRPD in Ghana’s case but noted on the formulation of the Persons with Disability Act 715, (2006) which was undergoing an overhaul by stakeholders to ensure that it was compatible with the statutes.

His Royal Majesty noted the importance of the role played by traditional leaders and authorities in ensuring that the engagement for inclusion started at community and grassroots levels.

The President of AfriNEAD, a South African based organisation that advocates for the translation of disability research evidence into action that assists in the upliftment of the lives of persons with disability in Africa, Professor Mji, expressed her joy on the tabling of the conference by the various institutions and organisations because its theme “emerged from an understanding of the need to create inclusive environments for future generations.”

Scholars and various attendees held plenary sessions which focused on many issues that affected persons with disability and good practises and case studies submitted on successes happening on the continent and beyond.

The southern part of the African continent was well represented by the Southern Africa Federation for the Disabled (SAFOD) Secretariat which brought its President and the Chairperson, Mr Mussa Chiwaula and Mrs Rachel Kachaje respectively.

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