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Georges Alexandre

Futures Thinker Profile

 

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Georges Alexandre

Fulbright Scholar, PhD Student: University of Washington

Website: https://alexlenferna.wordpress.com/

Education:

ABOUT YOU AS A FUTURES THINKER / PRACTITIONER

You identify yourself as an African futures thinker or practitioner. How would you describe to the woman or man on the street what it is that you do in this regard?

I think about the ways that we can transform Africa’s energy infrastructure so as to create an economically and ecologically prosperous, low carbon future. I also think about the impacts of climate change on the African continent and how it relates to questions of global climate justice.

In which countries or places have you had working experience as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

South Africa

In what languages have you undertaken futures / foresight related work or research?

English,
I also speak some Afrikaans, French and a little bit of isiXhosa

What is it that motivates you to work or participate in the foresight / future studies / related field

I work on climate justice and the ethics of energy, because the nature of our energy choices plays a major role in determining the quality of life of current and future generations. Furthermore, current energy production systems are often deeply inequitable and corrupt compared to alternatives available. Thus reforming our energy production and distribution systems could play a major role in creating more equitable and just energy which uses less resources and provides energy access more broadly.

What goal/s would you most like to reach with your work as an African futures thinker / practitioner?

I would like to see countries across the African continent largely leap frog passed fossil fuel energy production and towards a clean energy future.

Who or what most influenced your thinking as a futures thinker / practitioner, and how?

Amory Lovins has done pioneering work in showing that a predominately clean energy future is possible. The work he has done in helping drive the ongoing clean energy revolution is inspiring as are the studies he has done illustrating the possibility of a clean energy future more broadly. Similarly the work of the likes of Tony Seba and Ramez Naam have illustrated the importance of human innovation in creating a better future and how if we act decisively, in this century we can move to a much more prosperous future.

Wangari Maathai demonstrated to me the power of social movements to stand up against powerful interests holding back communities and positive social change. Her courage and tenacity to create a better future inspired me.

Stephen Gardiner’s work has greatly helped me to understand the deeply moral and complex nature of the climate crisis we currently face, and why we need to urgently address it.

What is your main disciplinary background? (i.e. your primary training / qualification)

I am trained in philosophy. However, following the more traditional approach of the “natural philosopher” as being an all-round interdisciplinary scholar, I use the tools provided by the study of philosophy to help me critically engage in interdisciplinary work of the sort needed to think of a more just and equitable future.

How do other people describe you and how do you describe yourself?

Others describe me as… innovative
I describe myself as… aspiring

 

YOUR PERSPECTIVE

What is one of your favourite quotes about the future?

“For too long, Africa’s leaders have been content to oversee highly centralised energy systems designed to benefit the rich and bypass the poor. Power utilities have been centres of political patronage and corruption. The time has come to revamp Africa’s creaking energy infrastructure, while riding the wave of low-carbon innovation that is transforming energy systems around the world. Africa cannot afford to stand on the sidelines of the renewable energy revolution. It can play its part in this revolution and tackle the challenges of transitioning away from fossil fuels” - Africa Progress Panel

How would you describe the state of African futures thinking right now?

Much African futures thinking is dominated by non-African voices.

What is, in your opinion, the main barrier to uptake of futures knowledge by African institutions and organisations?

Entrenched interests. Those with significant economic stakes in the status quo will often be the largest obstacles to much needed transformation.

If you were to give advice to someone who wants a career in African foresight / future studies, what would you say to him or her?

It is not enough to have knowledge of a better future, it’s also about knowing the political and social levers that can bring that future about.

What are your recommended readings for every African futures thinker / practitioner?

What are your recommendations for other favourite futures resources: websites, newsfeeds, mailing lists, associations, etc.?

 

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