“This is just the beginning” said Professor Francis Wilson, as he mapped the path for Carnegie’s continued progress.

In the main closing address, Deputy President Kgalema Mothlanthe, said this Carnegie Conference marked the first time that research has been conducted “under democratic conditions.

“This allows for much deeper interrogation of the complexities leadting to poverty, deprivation and inequality.”

Wilson, who also addressed the closing event of Towards Carnegie III conference Friday evening. It marked the end of a week when about 500 academics, policymakers, and NGOs came together to try to find practical solutions to South Africa’s enduring problems of poverty and inequality.

Networking, theme building and action were billed by Wilson as key components of the net phase -“learning by doing,” as Trevor Manuel, National Planning minister, put it.

“Where to from here?” asked Wilson. He outlined a set of actions for the next three years. “This is just stage one of a process that continues until 2015 and further,” said Wilson.

“We have to report back to the NPC in three months’ time,” he said. During the conference key gaps had been identified and now a wealth of knowledge had to be “sorted”.

Wilson referred to the “sense of energy” at Towards Carnegie III, and described the networks formed at the conference as “the wires that have joined up this week”.

Wilson highlighted three aspects that have made Towards Carnegie III unique.

He said the conference was the first of its kind to occur as a direct result of government enquiry. He referred to the presence of NGOs as a significant success of the conference. “They have been both devastating and encouraging.”

There had been an “extraordinary response” to the conference from around the country. “We received 350 papers from 19 universities”.

He challenged all universities to “find ways of focusing on poverty and inequality, working with NGOs to find imaginative ways of doing things to make things better.”

By Jacques de Satgé