At its recent Executive Committee meeting in Quebec, Canada, the IGU approved the establishment of a new Commission on African Studies.  The intention is to foster networking and develop teaching and research in all aspects of African geography.  Further information may be obtained from Dr Innocent Moyo on:

Until now, Africa has been underrepresented in the International Geographical Union (IGU). This underrepresentation translates into failure to engage with geographical challenges that characterise Africa and the continent, which may need geographical perspectives and/or interventions and debates from an African perspective and by African and geographers on the African continent. For example, presently, there is either limited or no focus at all on, among others, Africa-specific environmental issues and problems, geopolitical debates and configurations and reconfigurations relating to Africa, migration, development and regional integration, Africa in the global imaginary and development trajectories. Further examples of deficits in this respect include Africa and the Global economy, Africa’s place and role in initiatives such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa—an association of countries deemed to constitute emerging economies) or African voices and views informed by African geographic scholarship on significant international undertakings such as the Conference of the Parties (COP) serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) and the related Framework Convention on Climate Change. The formation of the said Africa Commission (AC), therefore, not only targets closing this gap, but also aims to bring to the fore in a direct and conspicuous way, issues and challenges facing Africa. While Africa is part of the global community, it has and continues to face a litany of problems that are specific and unique to the continent. One way of dealing with such, is to have a specific academic body that tackles the problems and issues. This is the basis of this proposal to establish the Africa Commission within the IGU. Moreover, involving African and Africa-based scholars through such a dedicated commission will increase/motivate participation and membership from the continent. This has been lacking over the years. An AC will also encourage African and scholars based on the continent to claim scholarly ownership and stimulate participation in the IGU. The current state-of-affairs seems to induce feelings of marginalization on the part of these scholars. The AC also promises to be a step towards establishing a systematic means of promoting practice and discipline at national, regional and local level—e.g. in schools, institutions and associations—across the African continent. Establishment of AC in the IGU also guarantees the existence of a core team of members dedicated to promoting and intensifying the cause of the IGU on the African continent.


Since the formation of the IGU in Brussels, Belgium, in 1922, it has grown in both scientific activity and the number of Commissions and Task forces. Notable developments include the Latin American Commission which deals with the geographies of Latin America. Although geographers from the African continent have consistently participated and featured in many of the IGU Commissions and sessions thereof, it seems as though the absence of a platform that deliberately and categorically speaks to and champions issues in and/or of Africa could have stifled and suffocated geographical debate on and about the continent. The African continent in and of itself offers a plenitude of ‘material’ for geographical scholarship that would benefit the discipline and humanity. Against this background, it is strongly anticipated that the formation of an African Commission will not only undo the foregone loss to scholarship and humanity caused by the absence of a dedicated commission that looked into things African, but will also assist in promoting and elevating African geographies in the IGU fold of programmes and activities and the cause of science, in general.

 Aim of the proposed African Commission

The overarching aim of the AC is to promote and provide a platform for African geographies.


Based on the above aim, the objectives of the proposed African Commission are to:

  1. Provide a platform for academic and scientific debate for scholars in Africa and abroad on Africa-specific issues, challenges and problems
  2. Establish a channel for the international showcasing of African geographies
  3. Establish a channel for the international showcasing of geographical research and scholarship in Africa
  4. Achieve adequate representation of Africa in the IGU
  5. Stimulate, improve and/or increase participation in IGU scientific activities by Africa-based scholars and researchers
  6. Grow, nature and expand IGU scientific and other activities in Africa

It is proposed that these aims and objectives will be achievable through the establishment of African Commission sessions. The sessions will be organized under the auspices of the International Geographical Congress meetings and IGU regional congresses. The African Commission also proposes to organize and run thematic sessions under the guidance and endorsement of the IGU.  These should also be complimented by initiatives such as symposia, workshops, fairs, etc. to be held in between IGU major events, in institutions across the continent’s major regions. For these reasons, the following is an indicative but not exhaustive list of sessions that will be organized under and/for IGC and IGU meetings:

  1. Africa and global imaginary
  2. African population geographies
  3. African cities
  4. African geopolitical debates, configurations and reconfigurations
  5. African borderlands
  6. Africa and climate change
  7. Conflict, war and development
  8. African development challenges and trajectories
  9. Environmental issues and problems in Africa
  10. Migration in Africa
  11. Migration, development and regional integration
  12. Water resources management and governance
  13. Cartography and mapping in/of the African continent
  14. Africa and gender
  15. Industrialization and urbanization
  16. Africa, climate change and climate variations
  17. Africa and natural resource use/management

Further, we are fully aware that geographers could contribute to a better world, by providing solutions to the myriad problems and challenges that affect Africa today and in the future. In pursuit of this ideal, and over and above the above sessions in mainstream IGC and IGU meetings, the African Commission would also organize thematic sessions that tackle current challenges in Africa. Examples of thematic sessions that the African Commission proposes to organize, include, but are not limited to those that focus on:

  1. Africa’s natural heritage and diversity
  2. Africa’s rich sociocultural heritage and diversity
  3. War and conflict
  4. Disease and poverty
  5. African political and election geographies


The IGU has grown significantly since its formation. It has tackled and thus has contributed to solutions to the many problems, challenges and issues that afflict humanity today and in the future. Consistent with the role that geography can play in creating a better world, the proposed African Commission targets bringing to the center of geographical debate African issues and challenges. Not only will this contribute to finding solutions to challenges and problems that are experienced in African, but it will also grow the IGU in Africa as well as enrich the Union’s scientific scholarship. In this way, the African continent will fully participate and enjoy representation in the global community of geographers.


Dr. Inocent Moyo (CHAIRPERSON)
Department of Geography and Environmental Studies
Postal Address: Private Bag X1001
KwaDlangezwa 3886
South Africa
T: +27 (0) 35 9026340| Office C 9/+27 72 106 2632

Dr. Christopher Changwe Nshimbi (SECRETARY)
DST-NRF RCA Research Fellow & Deputy Director: Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn)

Department of Political Sciences
University of Pretoria
Old College House
Private Bag X20
Hatfield 0028
Pretoria, South Africa
Tel No.: +27 (0)12 420 4152


  1. Dr Alain François LOUKOU (VICE CHAIRPERSON)
    Enseignant – Chercheur, Géographie des TIC / Lecturer, Geography of ICT
    UFR “Communication Milieu & Société”
    Université de Bouaké (Côte d’Ivoire / Ivory Coast)

12 BP 650 Abidjan 12, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)

GSM: 00 (225) 08 82 51 86 / 03 59 34 32


  1. Prof. Kenneth Matengu (VICE SECRETARY)
    Pro-Vice Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Development
    Office of the PVC: Research, Innovation and Development
    University of Namibia
    Tel: +264 (0) 61 206 3944




  1. Dr Augustin Chabossou

Centre d’Etudes, de Formation et de Recherches en Développement (CEFRED)
Faculté des Sciences Economiques et de Gestion

Université d’Abomey Calavi (Bénin)
Adresse postale : 04 BP 966 Cotonou
Mobile : (00229) 97 98 23 22
Fixe : (00229) 21 38 12 55



  1. Dr. Yazidhi Bamutaze

Head of Department

Department of Geography, Geoinformatics & Climatic Sciences

P.O Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda

Tel: +256 414 531 261

Fax: +256 414 531 641



  1. Dr. Ibrahima Sylla

Département de Géographie de l’Université Cheick Anta Diop

Dakar, Sénégal

Spécialité : Géographie des TIC et de la Société de l’information.