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School of Business and Management

An Interview with Dr Owolabi Bakre, Director of the new African Research Centre at SBM

On the 2nd July 2018 the School of Business and Management (SBM) hosted the 'African Business, Organisations and Society' conference to inaugurate the new African Research Centre here at SBM.  Following on from its success, conference organiser and Director of the African Research Centre, Dr Owolabi Bakre shares his thoughts and plans for the centre and subsequent conferences.  

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The founding and making of the new African Research Centre 

As an African intellectual Bakre's growing interest in African development, evident through his focus on Afro-Caribbean development in his research put him in the ideal position to be the founder and director of the new African Research Centre.  In July last year, Professor Frances Bowen at SBM offered Bakre the opportunity to institutionalize his research and make it into something bigger, which was a research centre focusing specifically on African economic development.  Bakre began gathering connections nationally and internationally and on the 2nd July 2018 the African Research Centre was launched at the Conference for African Business, Organisations & Society.

Long Term Achievements and Goals

Bakre was able to get Ali Soyode, a 2019 Nigerian Presidential Candidate and CEO/founder of BEN Television (a British television channel aimed mainly at expatriate Africans living in Europe and North Africa) to attend and broadcast the conference to a number of African countries.  Plans are underway to link his initiative with the UN African Research Centre in Nigeria with BEN Television pledging support as the media stakeholder for upcoming dialogues and events. This purports to be a vital research undertaking for SBM with a rich exchange of African scholars, debates and perspectives.  Other than Queen Mary, there is only Chatham House and SOAS that has a research focus specifically on African development.  After the success of the first conference, Bakre believes that the conference next year will be even bigger.  He hopes that the conferences will help gain growing attention and publicity which will eventually contribute to its expansion and increased funding. 

Benefits of the African Research Centre and Conferences for Africa

Bakre believes that the main purpose of the African Research Centre is to increase the awareness of both African citizens (as well as non-African citizens) of Africa‚Äôs capacity, resources and capabilities and to continuously identify internal solutions to issues for their socio-political economic development.  For example, African citizens should come together to develop their own accounting standards, rather than rely on European accounting standards; bring in independent thinking in African development.  Bakre also highlights the significance of good leadership for African countries to properly harness and recognize their potentials.

Next Steps 

The African Research Centre is looking to continuously expand and grow; that being so, all members of Queen Mary Staff who would like to be a member should join. It is open to any academics, intellectual, business people, NGO, civil society organisations, and media. Please express your interest to Owolabi Bakre at:

Bakre would like to give special thanks to

  • Professor Frances Bowen, SBM
  • all conference organisers, speakers
  • BEN Television and;

the following SBM Professional Services Staff: 

  • Alicia George, Alumni Relations and Events Officer
  • Monira Begum, Research Manager 
  • Linda Appiah-Spick, Senior Communications Officer (Digital and Print)
  • Sudeera Ker, Communications Intern who interviewed Bakre for this news article