Centres of Excellence

Digitalisation of the Centres of Excellence – Innovative digital project DIGI-FACE launched

In the frame of the African Excellence program a new project for improving higher education and research at the Centres of Excellence via digital components and capacities has been launched. The new project called


is financed by the funding of DAAD with support of the German Federal Foreign Office. The aim of this new project is to support the African Excellence program objectives by setting up and using digital tools to be developed in order to promote digital learning, teaching and research competencies at the Centres. It addresses all the Centres of Excellence and aims on strengthening the African Excellence Network, so that geographically separated participants become part of a broad community of learners and practitioners of interactive digital learning progress and reflexive research supervision. Students, doctoral candidates, alumni, lecturers and research supervisors will contextualise their learning and research issues within their own disciplines and institutional policy frameworks, and communicate their contextualised view clearly to others via an appropriated range of digital modalities.

DIGI-FACE will develop and implement a needs orientated interactive learning platform based on existing learning management system software and appropriate multidisciplinary online training courses. The platform will provide a wide range of possibilities for connecting learners to tutors and to peers for sharing and online collaborating.

The overall objective of the project is to contribute via better digital learning and teaching facilities to a more effective and efficient functioning of societally relevant areas in African countries through the activities of graduates in key positions in teaching, society and business. Further, the program will contribute via the digital elements to build up internationally competitive, sustainably operating and socially perceivable Centres of Excellence.

DIGI-FACE is managed by the consortium of the German Universities of the Centres of Excellence CEGLA (Centre for Local Governance in Africa), CERM-ESA (East and South African-German Centre for Educational Research, Methodologies and Management), CCAM (Congolese German Centre for Microfinance) and WAC-SRT (West African German Centre for Sustainable Rural Transformation) and will serve all the partners of the African Excellence program.


The Kick-Off Meeting of DIGI-FACE project involving all interested Centers of Excellence will take place from 3 to 6 March at Nelson Mandely University in Port Elizabeth.

Start of the third CABLES Training for Centres of African Excellene in Accra

The third offering of CERM-ESA’s Capacity Building Programme for Lecturers and Supervisors (CABLES) has kicked-off successfully in Accra this morning. A group of 25 participants representing the
West African-German Centre of Excellence for Governance for Sustainable and Integrative Local Development
West African-German Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Rural Transformation
Congolese-German Centre of Excellence for Microfinance
Ghanaian-German Centre of Excellence for Development Studies and the
– Namibian-German Centre of Excellence for Logistics

are engaging in questions of postgraduate supervision, curriculum development and interpersonal competencies for excellent teaching. The week-long professional development programme is the last in a row of three international and cross-disciplinary CABLES offerings that DAAD  has sponsored for those lecturers, researchers and supervisors, who contribute to the success of the Centres of African Excellence.

Participants and facilitators of the CABLES@WA2019

The cane keeps Africa going

cane african

Interviews from the International Alumni Conference in Cape Town November 2017.

What does this have to do with beating?

If you ask an artist, a painter, he will tell you immediately that sometimes you have to change perspective. Go far away from your painting, to see it as a distant structure or go very close to see the patterns of the brush in a spot of color on the canvas.

Looking at the development of Africa, you can change your perception and go deep down your own childhood, to the very beginning in the upbringing of you as a child. The upbringing of children in Africa also shapes the development of the continent, as was my upbringing in the late 60s and early 70s in Germany, which was very similar.

If there would be no cane – and all what it stands for – young Africans would be raised in a climate of personal self development, free will and even more important free speech. Just imagine that even in primary school and at home in the family young Africans would speak out freely and openly what they don’t like and what they think should be different in the world they are living in and be responsible for as adults. These young untamed beings would oppose every elderly, boss, superior or politician immediately when they see some wrong behaviour, be it corruption, unfair treatment of subordinates or just being to selfish to see others suffering.

The cane is also preventing that such a habit would flow into daily life, and therefor avoid the steam of anger to rise in the pot until it explodes with the loss of many lives.


So the conclusion is: The cane keeps Africa going, as it is.


At the “International Alumni Conference” in Cape Town (November 2017) I made many film interviews with attending alumni and key speakers of the conference. The conference theme was: “Tackling the root causes of displacement in Sub-Sahara Africa”. But of course the statements covered a wider range of individual perspectives.


Coming home with five hours of film footage, I realised it will be hard to find the “best” statements in each interview and put it down to a less than seven minutes final film. So I started to look for a thematic map in the answers of my interview partners and approached the footage from a qualitative interview perspective 1.

To my surprise I really found a clear structure to which, in a second step, I could edit the film footage:


  1. migration in general
  2. external migration
  3. internal migration
  4. inform policy and do research
  5. government
  6. enforcement of law
  7. education
  8. poverty and food security
  9. Schengen for Africa
  10. investors and business
  11. conference and network
  12. my time at the Centre and my values


With this approach I tried to turn the conference of scientists into a source for research about the respective subject. Seeing the alumni of the African Excellence Centres as a resource for data gathering, also closes the circle to a scientific project I worked on at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center in 1984. In the WZB study we looked at implications of psychological mindsets, related to the dying of the German forests, that at that time massively threatened our ecosystem. The question was, while anyone, from the simple citizen to a CEO in the chemical industry, knew that something has to be done, nothing happened2. A situation that seems to be very similar to the African struggles today. What are the motivations, assumptions, interpretations and cognitive subsumptions of the key influencers and also the normal citizens when it comes to solutions for problems in the African context? If it is the cane that keeps African countries from falling apart, then you will have a different approach towards solutions than thinking, that it is the politicians who have a good law but don’t implement it for very personal reasons.


For me, from a psychological perspective, one of the key statements in the interviews was the answer from Dr. Juliet Okoth who said, that it took her until her PhD to develop the freedom to feel that it is okay to have a different opinion than someone else and to express it freely and to reason about it with someone who might have another opinion (video minute 33). Having been raised by the cane left these long-lasting traces in her, she tells us. In another interview a master student told me, that even until today – having a stipend and being one of the heavily selected students of the African Excellence Programme – her father doesn’t talk to her, since she violated the tribal based family expectations for a girl. Many African countries are challenged by high teenage pregnancy rates. In Namibia a high rate of female university students get unwanted pregnant, despite family planning at the hospital being free and the hospital itself being in walking distance from the university. Tribal social rules, family expectations, the church and also the rude behaviour of the nurses in the hospital (assuming that every young girl who asks for family planning is a prostitute) creates a climate of pressure and extrusion.

The hippie generation in Europe had to fight the hardened expectations of their conservative narrow-minded parents. The older post Second World War generation in Europe had a longing for a small nicely ordered social context, but the Vietnam War, the longing for sexual freedom and social justice had been stronger and changed our society in Europe forever.

Now it seems to be the turn of the educated African middle class to create for their youngsters (and themselves), at least at home and in school, an atmosphere in which a free and creative personality can develop and flourish. Assuming that, if the inner attitude of people will change the rest will follow automatically.


The Video

Unfortunately there are still no iframes possible on this blog so you can only watch it on the zazu.berlin Website. Choose:

“Alumni Conference Cape Town 2017 – 1 hour – Interviews with Alumni”


This rough and not finalised edit of the footage was not ordered, paid or  certificated by the DAAD, it represents my own view and necessity to contribute to the discussion.

The video is approximately one hour in length!
Please lean back and take your time to listen to the statements of some of the most brilliant brains in and around the African Excellence Programme.
It is worth it!


  • Judith Christabella Aceg
  • Callistus Akachabwon Agaam
  • Zihembire Gerald Ahabwe
  • Brenda Akia
  • Kennedy Alatinga
  • Sylvester Nsobire Ayambila
  • Chifundo Chilera Patience
  • Christian Eanga
  • George-Grandy Hallow
  • Kenasi Kasinje
  • Elisabeth Munee Kiamba
  • Fleming Lumumba
  • Joyce Marangu
  • Jesse Mugero
  • Penelope Malilwe Mulenga
  • Peter Mwesigwa Katoneene
  • Patrick-Didier Nukuri
  • Juliet Roselyne Amenge Okoth
  • Charlton C. Tsodzo
  • Faustine Wabwire
  • Wilhelm Löwenstein
  • Matlotleng Patrick Matlou
  • Dorothee Weyler

Author: Thomas Hezel – zazu.berlin


Berlin, July 2018-2019




Aghamanoukjan A., Buber R., Meyer M. (2009) Qualitative Interviews. In: Buber R., Holzmüller H.H. (eds) Qualitative Marktforschung. Gabler Verlag, Wiesbaden Germany



Fietkau, Hans-Joachim (1984) Bedingungen ökologischen Handelns: Gesellschaftliche Aufgaben der Umweltpsychologie. Beltz Verlag, Weinheim Germany

Coming soon: Network Meeting of the Centres of African Excellence 2019 in Dakar

10th Network Meeting of the Centres of African Excellence
Networks for Sustainable Impacts on African Development

from 18 to 21 September 2019
at Centre Africain d’Études Supérieures en Gestion (CESAG)
Dakar, Senegal


This year’s Annual Network Meeting is entitled “Networks for Sustainable Impacts on African Development” and shall reflect the importance of our internal and external networks to enhance capacities especially trough this networking, not only in higher education and research, but also with regards to policy advice, applied sciences and innovative technologies.
High ranked representatives from relevant sectors of politics, science and public will be invited to the meeting, to provide a platform for discussions and strengthening ties among the network. With a view to international cooperation activities in higher education and research, we also seek to create links with corresponding stakeholders and to identify and maximize synergies. Moreover, we will further elaborate our strategies on how to benefit from recent developments in the context of digitalization, while considering local circumstances of sub Saharan African realities at the same time.

This year´s network meeting will kindly be hosted by the West-African-German Centre of Excellence for Local Governance in Africa (CEGLA). The official opening of CEGLA will be part of the Network Meeting. The inauguration ceremony will take place on 18th September 2019 and will be hosted by CESAG.

CERM-ESA offers up to six DAAD in-country/ in-region Master’s scholarships and up to two PhD scholarships


6 Masters Scholarships for our Master of Education in Research Programme,
funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) starting from the 1st of September 2019

Please read the full text here: Announcement for_M_Scholarships_in-country_2019

and up to

2 PhD Scholarships in Sociology of Education funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) starting from the 1st of September, 2019

Please read the full text here: Announcement_D_Scholarships_in-country_ 2019


Centres of Excellence for Africa’s future

Jubiläumsfeier der Fachzentren Afrika
Im Dialog: Das Netzwerktreffen der Centres of African Excellence führte in Berlin Experten unterschiedlicher Fachrichtungen zusammen
On the occasion of the ten-year anniversary of the Centres of African Excellence initiative by the Federal Foreign Office and the DAAD, a large network meeting was held in Berlin. The South African Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor spoke of the ten Centres of Excellence with different orientations as a “foundation of enormous benefit”. The centres make it possible to train the future leaders of society, academia and business.


Sustainable network: the Centres of African Excellence focus on a wide variety of issues in Sub-Saharan Africa

How can we make development cooperation successful? And what is the role of the education sector in that endeavour? Naledi Mandisa Pandor is an expert on these questions. She has worked as a teacher and lecturer, and for nearly fifteen years has been active as a minister in various cabinets of the South African government, mainly dealing with education and science. Currently she is the Minister of Higher Education. About higher education, she says: “I think one crucial factor is a long-term perspective. Countries must have the possibility to form their own institutional structures. And they need personnel to do that: a new generation of academics.”

Naledi Pandor’s analysis corresponds to the concept of one of the long-term German-African cooperation projects at the educational level, the Centres of African Excellence. For ten years, the centres have been synonymous with sustainable, internationally competitive academic training. From 10 October to 13 October, the joint initiative of the Federal Foreign Office and the DAAD celebrated its anniversary in Berlin, with Minister Pandor as the key note speaker.


Jubiläumsfeier der Fachzentren Afrika
The different Centres present their projects and results to the Minister of Higher Education, Ms. Naledi Pandor, the President of the DAAD, Ms. Margret Wintermantel, and the Programme Director, Ms. Dorothee Weyler.

There are now ten university Centres of African Excellence in Sub-Saharan Africa, which will allow the future decision makers to address specific questions with international networks. Each of the centres deals with the challenges of its own country. For instance, the Centre for Microfinance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo helps to support a weak banking sector with innovative financing models. In Namibia, the Centre for Logistics works on the government goal of modernising the nation’s freight transport system. Each of the centres in eight countries is supported by a German partner university.

“Sustainable development concepts”


“It is absolutely crucial that from the beginning, the collaborations were designed to transfer responsibility to the African partners as quickly as possible,” says Professor Margret Wintermantel, President of the DAAD. “Such sustainable development concepts are now in demand everywhere. I think we can be proud of having recognised the signs of the times so early on.” In order to guarantee this long-term effect of the centres, she added, it is now essential to plan the next steps.


South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education Naledi Pandor: pleased about competitive junior academics

The same was emphasised by Heidrun Tempel, Deputy Director-General for Research and Academic Relations Policy and Cultural Relations Policy at the Federal Foreign Office: “The tenth anniversary also brings a responsibility.” Tempel said what needs to be talked about now is a strategy of slowly “fading out” of existing collaborations. “Our goal should be to endow the centres with the competences they need to acquire new funding on their own.” In addition, it would be sensible to extend the initiative as a whole. “Africa deserves at least 20 of these centres.”

How well the concept actually works in practice is illustrated by the experiences of teachers and learners in Africa. Wilhelm Löwenstein, Professor at Ruhr-University of Bochum and Director of the South African Centre of Development Research, called for a change in perspective: “Anyone who thinks our know-how alone can turn highly talented people into highly qualified experts is suffering from a delusion.” It is essential, he added, to give the young academics the opportunity to interact with one another. Three young alumni from Kenya, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo confirmed: the greatest benefit was the opportunity to form networks.

German-African economic cooperation

During a discussion attended by Minister Naledi Pandor, DAAD President Margret Wintermantel and Heidrun Tempel, as well as Bundestag member Christoph Matschie and Christoph Kannengießer, Chief Executive Officer of the Afrika-Verein der Deutschen Wirtschaft (German-African Business Association), the potential of the Centres of African Excellence once again became clear. “This initiative is not just about research,” said Christoph Matschie, member of the Bundestag’s foreign committee. “It is about recognising that we are part of a global community, and about taking responsibility for one another. To do that, there is no alternative to such collaborations.” Christoph Kannengießer believes that the initiative is creating ideal conditions for long-term German-African economic cooperation. Not least because it helps to remove one of the largest obstacles to German investment in Africa: the lack of qualified personnel.


Berlin round table discussion (from left): Christoph Matschie, Heidrun Tempel, discussion leader Claus-Bernhard Pakleppa, Margret Wintermantel, Christoph Kannengießer and Naledi Pandor

Minister Pandor was impressed by the “immense capacity” the DAAD and the Federal Foreign Office have built with the Centres of African Excellence initiative. “I see young academics from many different countries, even those that have previously been completely ignored by the worldwide research community.” And that, she added, is precisely what is needed to bring Africa forward. “The DAAD and Germany have built a foundation of enormous benefit. We as African governments now have to invest in these young academics and researchers.”

Written by Klaus Lüber (17 October 2018)

Pictures by: Andreas Paasch

CCAM in Benin

On the third of December 2017, Professor Frederic Kalala, the Chair of Congolese German Center of Microfinance, told the students of M2 Microfinance that they would be traveling to Benin for the annual excursion.  At first, the students were excited for the opportunity that the DAAD gave them to have such a trip.  But Professor Kalala told them that they would also have to present their papers in the annual conference of Microfinance at the University of Abomey Calavi and more than that, they would have to evaluate three microfinance institutions. Obviously, the pressure had gone up since the students knew that they would need to invest extra time in their busy schedule.

Once in Benin, the students were impressed by the cultural differences between RD Congo and Benin. One of them said that “Benin was a wonderful experience, people are calmer than Congolese, everyone minds their own business. We were almost invisible if it wasn’t for the bus that came to fetch us, no one would have noticed that a bunch of student from the Congo were there.”

It took them three days to visit the three institutions ESU OLA OTAN, FESECAM and ALIDé the three impressive microfinance institutions in Benin. The goal was to analyse five topics: social performance, governance and rating, risk management, audit and financial performance.  To get that data, the students interviewed the Executive manager of each department that was studied, from the CEO to the accounting manager, the human resources manager, audit department manager and risk management department and internal control manager.  Subsequently, they did the data collection, such as financial statement, audit report, internal control report and document on social performance management and cash book.  The assignment was to evaluate and analyse the management of the three institutions and then give their recommendations to the Executive in charge of the department on how to improve their businesses; let’s keep in mind that those are professionals who have been in business for ten plus years.

After the presentation, The CEOs and the staff of the three microfinance institutions were amazed at how the students handled the pressure and did the job. The president of the board of FECECAM (CLCAM) said that he has been in the business for more than two decades and he has never had this report done in a few days and well done indeed. Even the professor Welé Idrisou, the secretary’s general of minister of Benin in charge of microfinance, was very impressed.

However, the main event of the trip was the annual meeting of microfinance in Abomey Calavi, the biggest university in Benin with 80 thousand students.

Four of the best papers were selected and four courageous students presented their topics in front of the panel, a room full of professors, expert in microfinance and PhD students. The Dean of economics and management Faculty of Abomey Calavi and the panel congratulated the four students and invited them to do their future research in Benin.

Thanks to the DAAD, the reputation of the Congolese German Center of Microfinance stands behind the republic democratic of Congo, the expertise of our alumni is valued everywhere they go. Every year, the Microfinance institution in Kinshasa calls for them and the impact can be seen with open eyes as 90 % of the alumni that finished last year are already working.


Deadline extended to June 25th – 2nd DAAD Centers for African Excellence Alumni Conference

Dear all, as we still have some free slots for our alumni conference, we have extended the application deadline to June 25th. For those presenting their work in the conference, tickets for international travel, catering and accommodation will be provided.

2nd DAAD Centers for African Excellence Alumni Conference

Ghana, 06th – 09th November 2018

Abstract submission until June 25th 2018

Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Science and Education

The promotion of sustainable development is the result of an unprecedented global consensus about the need to foster economic development in ways that reduce poverty and inequality, to enhance political participation and good governance, without destroying the natural environment that forms the substrate of human life, taking into account both the needs of current and future generations. The ideals encompassed in the original formulation of the concept are broadly shared in public discourse and among important political institutions, as demonstrated by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Many academic institutions, as well as individual researchers, conduct research, design curricula, and train students in order to generate the required knowledge and professional expertise to transform public policies towards sustainable development. The DAAD Centers of Excellence in Sub-Saharan Africa agree on the importance of promoting sustainable development and advance sustainability through:

  • Research, producing innovative knowledge, approaches, and technologies helping to attain sustainable development
  • Training highly qualified professionals who can contribute to sustainable development working in multiple sectors within and outside of universities
  • Engaging in outreach activities promoting the DAAD Centers’ results, products and alumni

Since the nexus between the DAAD centers and their contribution to Africa’s sustainable development has not yet been explicitly addressed, we would like to invite you to the Second DAAD African Centers of Excellence Alumni Conference, which will address the topic Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Science and Education.

The Conference will be held in Accra, Ghana from 06th to 9th November 2018 at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), based in the University of Ghana, Legon. The 2nd DAAD Centers for African Excellence Alumni Conference results from a collaboration between ISSER, the Ghanaian-German Center for Development Studies (GGCDS), and the ISSER/GGCDS Alumni Network (IGAN).

We are interested in the experiences and contributions that the DAAD Centers of African Excellence have made towards the promotion of sustainability through their research, but also through the expertise they bring to bear in their professional practice. We also want to discuss where the alumni see additional potential for promotion of sustainable development by the centers. Thus the contributions should address the following questions:

  • How has/can your research contributed/contribute to sustainable development?
  • How can/does the training received at the centers contribute to your professional practice in promoting sustainable development?
  • How could the centers further enhance students’ capabilities towards the promotion of sustainable development?
  • How can interdisciplinary cooperation between the African Centers of Excellence help to enhance sustainable development?

While focusing on sustainable development in general, we are interested in fostering (interdisciplinary) discussions that relate to the many facets of sustainability addressed in the various centers:

  • Science, knowledge production and education
  • Logistics, economic development and financial inclusion
  • Natural resources governance and mineral extraction
  • Governance and law
  • Agriculture, rural development and rural-urban transformation
  • Migration and social mobility

The conference will be organized in thematic workshops. In these workshops the core questions outlined will be addressed. The output from individual workshops and the plenary discussion will be captured and compiled in a conference report. This report will detail current successes, identify capacity needs, and potential areas of future collaboration.

In order to participate, please send an abstract (not more than 500 words) of your intended presentation and a short summary of your curriculum vitae (including, if applicable, your most relevant publications). Please also indicate in which thematic workshop you would like to present your work (e.g. Science, Knowledge production and education; logistics, economic development and financial inclusion; natural resources governance and mineral extraction, etc.). Proposals shall be sent to the email addresses igan.ghana@gmail.com and Tetteh.alumni@gmail.com with the subject “Abstract – application to the 2nd DAAD Alumni conference” until June 15th 2018. A scientific committee with members from ISSER, GGCDS and of the ISSER/GGCDS alumni network will select the participants based on the quality of their proposal, their academic and professional activities, and the thematic pertinence of their contribution. Gender balance and diversity among participants (including all DAAD centers for African Excellence) will also be considered.

For those alumni presenting their work in the conference tickets for international travel, catering and accommodation in Accra will be provided.

Here the tentative programme: Alumni Conference 2018-Call for applicationsAP-14.06.18