Centres

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.

Appel à candidature pour les bourses de recherche doctorale du CEGLA au Niger et au Mali

Le programme Africain Excellence du DAAD à travers le Centre d’Excellence de Gouvernance Locale en Afrique (CEGLA) finance 4 bourses de doctorat pour des chercheurs souhaitant mener des recherches sur les questions relatives à la décentralisation ou à la gouvernance locale dans les universités suivantes :

  • Université des Sciences Juridiques et Politiques de Bamako (2 bourses dont 1 pour un(e) malien(ne) et 1 pour un(e) ressortissant(e) d’un autre pays africain) ;
  • Université Abdou Moumouni de Niamey (2 bourses dont 1 pour un(e) nigérien(ne) et 1 pour un(e) ressortissant(e) d’un autre pays africain).
La date limite d’introduction des candidatures est fixée au 15 septembre 2019.
Pour plus de détails, veuillez consulter l’appel à candidature.

Academic Persecution: Independent International Crime or Subject to a Connection Requirement?

Academic Persecution: Independent International Crime or Subject to a Connection Requirement?

Around the world today, Turkey, Hungary , China, Syria, Iran & Uganda, scholars  and academics are attacked because of their words,  ideas and their place in society. Those seeking power and control work to limit access to information and new ideas by targeting scholars, restricting academic freedom and repressing research, publication, teaching and learning.

Scholars ask difficult questions and that can be threatening to authorities whose power depends on controlling information and what people think. When academics are silenced or subjected to self censorship their communities are disadvantaged. Every year thousands of academics across the world are harassed, censored tortured and killed. The persecution of academics has occurred repeatedly in the course of human civilization. Notable examples are the migration of the Greek scholars from Constantinople to Italy, the expulsion of the Huguenots from France , the intelligenzaktion of scientists and academics in occupied Poland and the arrest of Sudanese  biology Professor Farouk Mohammed for teaching evolution.

On 2nd June 2019, I submitted an Article 15 communication to the Office of the Prosecutor(OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The communication calls upon the ICC to conduct a preliminary examination on persecution as a crime against humanity committed against scholars and academics in Uganda. However, the purpose of this article is not to discuss the merits of the communication but rather to moot the conversation on academic persecution and its place in international criminal law as an independent crime. Is persecution an independent international crime or does it require a connection element?

Article 7(1)(h) of ICC Statute ,Connection Requirement and Ambiguities

The crime of persecution has always been subject to debate and raises fundamental questions.

Is persecution an independent international crime ?

Does the crime of persecution require a connection element?

Article 7 of the ICC Statute in the verbatim states that a crime against humanity” means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population,with knowledge of the attack The ICC statute further describes the crime of persecution in (Article7(1)h) :Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court. The statute goes on to  provide that for the purposes of the above : Persecution means the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.

The ICC elements of crime provides the following  constitutive elements for the crime of persecution including the mental element as follows:

  • The perpetrator severely deprived, contrary to international law, one or more persons of fundamental rights.

  • The perpetrator targeted such person or persons by reason of the identity of a group or collectivity or targeted the group or collectivity as such.

  • Such targeting was based on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in article 7, paragraph 3, of the Statute, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law.

  • The conduct was committed in CONNECTION with any act referred to in article 7, paragraph 1, of the Statute or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia(ICTY) has a measurable body of  jurisprudence when it comes to the international crime of persecution. For example, out of the ninety (90) who to date have been convicted by the ICTY, forty(40) had been charged with the crime of persecution. It is important to note that the crime of persecution was hardly applied in international or national law before the start of the ICTY proceedings. The ICTY case law dealing with the crime of persecution is one of the most important contributions of the ICTY to international criminal law. This body of jurisprudence clearly rejects that the crime of persecution needs to be subject to a connection requirement. The (ICTY), in the Kupreškič case, affirmed that:The Trial Chamber rejects the notion that persecution must be linked to crimes found elsewhere in the Statute of the International Tribunal.

The other dilemma that has emerged is the problematic formulation by the International Law Commission (ILC) work on the proposed crimes against humanity convention. The ILC formulation provides for a rather troubling connection requirement for the crime of persecution with specificity to geneocide and war crimes. Article 3(1)(h) of the Draft ILC Articles reads as follows: Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or in connection with the crime of genocide or war crimes. The chairman of the ILC drafting committee Mr. Mathias Forteau stated in his report that the act of persecution defined in sub-paragraph (h) refers to any act “in connection with the crime of genocide or war crimes” while the ICC Statute refers to “any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court”.

I do argue that the use of the terms “in connection with” is vague, problematic and susceptible to many interpretations and misinterpretations. In sum these ambiguities trigger the need to moot a conversation on the international crime of persecution especially the persecution of scholars and academics and its place in international criminal law. Is it an independent international crime without a nexus to other crimes?If i  were to give the text of the statute its ordinary meaning or interpretation, persecution as a crime against humanity is an independent international crime without the need for a connection requirement. To my knowledge the connection requirement has no basis in international law and was merely a juridictional filter by the drafters of the text.

Scholars like Professor Gerhard Werle in the second edition of his book principles of international criminal law explained that “The requirement of a connection was intended to take account of the concerns about the breadth of the crime of persecution. With this accessorial design, the ICC Statute lags behind customary international law, since the crime of persecution, like crimes against humanity, has developed into an independent crime

Academics and scholars do belong to an identifiable group or collectively because of their scholarship. Perpetrators especially repressive and dictatorial regimes target such person or persons by reason of their identity as a group. The perpetrators often severely deprive, contrary to international law, one or more persons of fundamental rights. It is important to note that the crime of persecution as a crime against humanity is not about numbers, the text of the elements of crimes uses the wordperson or persons”. In Turkey as of 2016 approximately 23,400 academics were persecuted by the Turkish authorities. In Uganda as of December 2018 Dr. Stella Nyanzi was arrested and 45 academics at Makerere university were sacked without due process. The appaling  emergence of  academic perseuction across the globe needs to be viewed from an international criminal justice persective.

In sum the travaux preparatoires among government delegates during the negotiations of the ICC Statute clearly illustrates that the connection requirement was simply a compromise clause and merely a jurisdictional filter. I do believe that the requirement of a connection to other crimes was simply used as jurisdictional filter considering the scope of persecution as an international crime. The unsettled field of international criminal law often tends to create new constituencies that ought to be subjected to further academic interrogation. The need to moot a conversation on academic persecution as an international crime  is not only neccesary it is timely.

Samuel Matsiko is a research fellow at the Amsterdam Center for War Reparations.He is also an early-career investigator and research fellow with the EU Cost ActionJustice360– Global Atrocity Justice Constellations”  . Email:  matsikosam@syrianlegalnetwork.nl.

A boost for regional sustainable development: West African Centre for Sustainable Rural Transformation launched in Ghana

July 11, 2019.

Launch ceremony at the University for Development Studies in Wa, Ghana, with more than 100 high-ranking participants, students and researchers from six West African countries and Germany on June 26, 2019.

The West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation will address technological, socio-economic, socio-political, administrative and cultural aspects of sustainable rural transformation. It will do so by conducting interdisciplinary research and developing teaching programs. Research and teaching will bring produce the required knowledge and applicable technological solutions, especially in the fields of renewable energies and agricultural water management. In addition, locally adapted business models and administrative approaches will be generated.

Capacity building at the core

The basic component of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation is capacity building. Based on its long-lasting experience ZEF will be leading the collaboration with the University for Development Studies in Ghana and the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger. An additional partner, with whom ZEF has been running successfully Graduate Programs such as the Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies, the Institute for Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana provides additional expertise and staff capacity training for the other African partners. The project is funded by the German Federal Foreign Ministry through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). Overall funding for the period 2017-2021 is approximately two million Euro.

High-ranking launch event in Ghana

The Centre was official launched on June 26, 2019 by the Upper West Regional Minister, Dr Hafiz Bin Salih in the presence of the Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye, and other distinguished guest such as the Head of Local Government Services, Dr. Nana Atto Arthur, Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University Abdou Moumouni in Niger, Prof. Dr. Adamou Rabani, the country director of the DAAD, Lena Leumer, as well as the chairman and members of the university council of the University for Development Studies, as well as ZEF project leader Dr. Wolfram Laube. They were joined by more than 100 campus principals, deans, researchers, lecturers and students from Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Liberia.

Strengthening African networks

Vice Chancellor of the University for Development Studies in Ghana, Professor Gabriel Ayum Teye explained that postgraduate training across the globe had undergone great transformation which required collaboration among the various institutions in order to provide excellent joint programs, supervision, research and teaching. He said that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation had begun to provide scholarships to a number of students within and outside the country to study at the university and had also broadened academic networks among the partners. This is leading to enhanced collaboration in research and academic exchange drawing on the expertise from of various partners for post-graduate teaching and the design of research projects.

Speakers

Among the speakers were Dr. Derbile, Dean of the Faculty for Planning and Land Management at the University for Development Studies in Wa in Upper West Ghana, host of the opening ceremony and also an alumnus of ZEF’s PhD program, Dr. Wolfram Laube, project leader at ZEF and Prof. Susana Barrera, Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Nacional University in Bogotá. All speakers expressed their enthusiasm about the opportunities for scientific collaboration across borders, language barriers and disciplines provided by this project. Lena Leumer, Director of the DAAD Information Centre in Accra, said in her speech how excited she was that the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation was part of the DAAD-funded African Excellence Program (the the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies was also part of the DAAD Excellence Program).

ZEF Alumnus

Dr. Michael Ayamga, first Alumnus of the ZEF-led Ghanaian German Center for Development Studies extended his thanks to the participants of whom many had travelled from far distances. Additionally, he reminded the audience of the importance of establishing enduring relations and networks to share experiences and knowledge for mutual benefit. The ceremony closed with the official commissioning of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation building on the campus of the University for Development Studies at Wa in Upper West Ghana. The campus is hosting lecture rooms, computer lab, as well as office space for students and lecturers.

First Summer School concluded

The launch ceremony also marked the completion of the first one-month Summer School of the West African Center for Sustainable Rural Transformation taking place from June 3 to June 30, 2019. The Summer School brought together 39 Students pursuing different master programs at the Faculty for Science and Technology at the University Abdou Moumouni in Niamey, Niger and the Faculties for Agribusiness and Communication Sciences at the University for Development Studies in Tamale (Upper East Ghana) and Wa. The participants of the Summer School were coming from six West African Countries (Ghana, Niger, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Liberia).

Written by Dr. Wolfram Laube and Alma van der Veen.

http://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/%EF%BB%BFuds-establishes-centre-for-sustainable-rural-transformation/

Appel à communication – colloque scientifique international à Niamey

Du 27 au 29 novembre 2019 le colloque scientifique sur “La fonction publique territoriale – Dynamiques d’acteurs, enjeux et développement local” aura lieu à Niamey.

Veuillez trouver toutes les informations essentielles par rapport à l’appel à communication dans le document suivant:

appel à communication FPT Niamey

Les propositions de communication sont attendues jusqu’au 15 juillet 2019 au secrétariat du comité scientifique du colloque.

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

THE EAST AND SOUTH AFRICAN-GERMAN CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE FOR EDUCATIONAL RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES AND MANAGEMENT (CERM-ESA) at Moi University announces up to

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

 

Interview with Dr. Darlington Sibanda // 2nd DAAD Alumni Conference

“There is more room to expand into equipping young black Africans to beneficiate their own resources.”

Dr. Darlington Sibanda is a Development Researcher from Zimbabwe and an Alumnus of the University of the Western Cape (USW), South Africa. The interview took place during the 2nd DAAD Centers for African Excellence Alumni Conference in Akosombo, Ghana, where Darlington held a presentation which was titled: Towards inclusive Urban Land Governance in South Africa.

He currently works as a researcher and educator. His PhD research focused on Urban Land Tenure and Tenancy in South Africa. Other research interests are: Land Governance, Urbanization, Social Policy, Poverty and Inequality, Water and Sanitation Services, Social Protests.

Interview

 May you introduce yourself?

Dr. Sibanda: My name is Darlington Sibanda. I’m a PhD graduate. I graduated from the University of the Western Cape in 2018. I’m originally from Zimbabwe and I did my PhD in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies. I am a beneficial of DAAD during my Master’s program.

How did you get in touch with the DAAD?

Dr. Sibanda: When I was doing my Honor’s Degree at the University of the Western Cape I was one of the top students actually. One of the lecturers approached me to say: Look, there is this scholarship which is based on merit. You did very well, so don’t you want to apply? Then I applied and I got it eventually.

What influence did the scholarship have on your career?

Dr. Sibanda: Huge influence. Studying currently is becoming very difficult in Africa and elsewhere. It’s very expensive, so to have an opportunity to start with the DAAD scholarship meant that I could focus on my studies, living more comfortably and do my best for my education.

And what do you think can be improved by the DAAD?

Dr. Sibanda: Well, I feel that there is this need to reach more students. Only a small number of students benefitted. It will be far much better if we can have more talented African students who can benefit from that and go back to make an impact in their own countries.

The network is called African Excellence and on this Conference we are talking about Africa in general. Africa has 54 countries, but in Europe many people still consider Africa as one nation. So what can we do to eliminate this prejudice?

Dr. Sibanda: First of all, I would want to say that the idea of the Eurocentric borders came with Colonialism and everything else that is connected to it. The way the borders were designed did not take into consideration that within one particular African country there might be different cultures, different languages, different tribes. So you find that within one country itself there is a diverse number of tribes who don’t necessarily agree on everything. That’s number one. Then number two: Africa, being 54 countries, is quite diverse. You find that Northern part of Africa, which is ideally Arab speaking and the religion as well is related to that. As we come down to Central Africa you will also find it’s quite diverse, we have Francophone Africans, Anglophone Africans, Arab speaking Africans and so on. So it’s huge and diverse. The whole perception of one unified Africa does not exist.

What kind of contribution to Development issues is delivered by the DAAD programs?

Dr. Sibanda: The DAAD programs current focus, particularly the one that I benefitted from, is looking at Development Studies and how to work around the issue of policy and governance and to improve the governance in our countries. I feel there is more room to expand into equipping young black Africans to beneficiate their own resources. If DAAD can go the direction of identifying young black Africans who can go into studies which can focus on beneficiation of natural resources, that would be huge and wonderful.

Thank you very much, Mr. Sibanda.

 

 

 

The Interview was held by Lani Marie Doehring, a Student Assistant at GGCDS (Ghanaian-German Center for Development Studies) at the Center for Development Research Bonn, Germany.

 

Interview with Dr. Fatuma Mninde-Silungwe // 2nd DAAD Alumni Conference

“African women need to be economically empowered!”

Dr. Fatuma Mninde-Silungwe is a lawyer from Malawi and Alumna from the South African German Center for Transnational Criminal Justice. The interview took place during the 2nd DAAD Centers for African Excellence Alumni Conference in Akosombo, Ghana, where Fatuma held a presentation which was titled: Contributing to the Achievement of the SDG 16 on Peace, Justice and strong Institutions through Training in Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention in Africa.

She has done research in International Criminal Law and in Electoral Law. Her fields of interest include International Criminal Law, Criminal Justice, Elections, Human Rights and Good Governance. She currently works as a Legal Analyst on Elections with the United Nations Development Program in Malawi.

Interview

May you introduce yourself to the readers?

Dr. Silungwe: My name is Dr. Fatuma Silungwe. I am an Alumna of the South African – German Center for Transnational Criminal Justice.

What did you study?

Dr. Silungwe: I studied law at the University of Malawi. In my Masters level, I studied for an LL.M. and Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention which I completed in 2013 with a cum laude. During my LL.M studies, I specialized in Anti Money Laundering, Anti-corruption, International Criminal Law and Transitional Justice. Then I proceeded to do my PhD in International Criminal Law. My PhD research was on Regionalization of International Criminal Justice in Africa and I graduated on 27 August 2018.

Have you studied abroad?

Dr. Silungwe: My first time to study abroad was for my Masters when I went to do my Masters in South Africa after I got a DAAD scholarship. When I was doing my PhD I also stayed in Berlin for some time and in Cape Town for some time. Those were the two experiences that I have stayed and studied abroad for a longer period of time. In another case it was just for a short period of time when I came to Ghana once for a certificate course in legislative drafting.

How did the DAAD grab your attention?

Dr. Silungwe: A friend of mine got a DAAD scholarship some years before I went to do my Masters. She forwarded to me a Call for Applications for a DAAD scholarship to study an LL.M in Transnational Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention. Before that, I did not know about that kind of scholarship but when she forwarded it to me I applied and was fortunate enough to be considered.

What kind of influence did the scholarship have on your career?

Dr. Silungwe: I would say my career has progressed, because when I joined the program, to do my Masters, I was working for the Government of Malawi as a State Advocate. After my Masters I was able to get the job where I work now with the United Nations Development Program as a Legal Analyst. The Minimum qualification was a Master of Law Degree so – obviously – If I did not have it, then I would not gotten that job. So yes, the scholarship has influenced my career progression.  I also think with the qualifications I have acquired, I believe that I will be able to get other opportunities, whether within the same institution or in other institutions.

Do you have children?

Dr. Silungwe: I don’t have children.

Do you think the DAAD scholarship can help women to combine career and family?

Dr. Silungwe: I think it does. I’ve seen others who have benefitted from DAAD scholarships getting a stipend for their children and even for their husband when they are studying abroad. So, it helps the family to be together, especially when such kind of funding is provided to cater for family members.

Apart from the family, what does a scholarship mean for women?

Dr. Silungwe: One key issue in terms of us African women is that we need to be economically empowered! And with more education comes more opportunities remunerable employment. I am economically empowered because I am educated. That’s important for a woman. Apart from economic empowerment, advancement in education enables women to contribute and influence policy from an informed point of view. Such policies include policies that encourage inclusion of women in different areas of the economy and governance of different African countries.

Regarding the empowerment of African women, I think, we can do more. So what do you think can the DAAD improve when it comes to the empowerment of women?

Dr. Silungwe: I think DAAD can do more in terms of opening up opportunities for qualified women enable them access education, because most of such women are not able to get funding to go and study abroad or even within their countries. As such by providing scholarship opportunities for them, women will be able to access education which is really important. In addition, in terms of research within the DAAD Centers of Excellence, the research could focus on how gender can be mainstreamed in all the courses that the Centers cover, because I believe gender is an overarching issue whether we are studying International Criminal Law, Transitional Justice or other courses. So DAAD should support the Centers to ensure that they are including gender in their course work.

We are now talking about Africa respectively Sub-Saharan Africa and I’m wondering, because not every country has the same development issues. So to what extent can we talk about Africa in general?

Dr. Silungwe: It’s important to note that Africa is a continent of 54 countries and each country has its own social-economic development issues. It’s not good to generalize and to say: Africa is this and that. You need to go the individual countries and regions and assess what kind of needs those countries have.  As such, when designing any program at a country-level, it should be a program that will fit the needs of that particular country, not just putting Africa on one platter.

In the European perception Africa is still often considered as “one country”.

Dr. Silungwe: Well, there is the European Union with different countries and we have the African Union with 54 countries. It’s important that people are aware of that.

Thank you very much, Dr. Silungwe.

 

 

The Interview was held by Lani Marie Doehring, a Student Assistant at GGCDS (Ghanaian-German Center for Development Studies) at the Center for Development Research Bonn, Germany.

 

 

2nd DAAD Centres for Excellence Alumni Conference

 

Sustainable Development in Africa: The Role of Science and Education – was the topic of the 2nd DAAD Centres for Excellence Alumni Conference in Ghana. The conference was organized by the Ghanaian Alumni Network (IGAN) with the support of the Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, the Ghanaian-German Centre for Development Studies (GGCDS), and the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn,  at the Volta Hotel in Akosombo from November 6th to 9th 2018.   

The conference’s main objective was to foster the enhancement and consolidation of an organized network encompassing alumni from the different Centres for African Excellence, while also providing a platform for scientific discussion relevant to the future of the centers vis-à-vis their contribution to sustainable development in African countries.

The objectives of the conference also encompassed, initially, discussions among the coordinators of the Centers for African Excellence, in order to define how they could further support the emerging Alumni Network as well as how the centers could collaborate in the future. This is reflected on the structure of the original program, which included parallel sessions organized in thematic groups (for the alumni to present their research), and plenary sessions of the alumni, of the coordinators, or of all participants, in order to advance a series of questions, such as:  

•             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?

However, the need to define and develop a clear structure of the Alumni Network was recognized as one of the most urgent issues. The responsibility to deliver a complete report with the main results of the discussion was transferred to the Alumni Network Steering Committee.

Written by Aline Rose Barbosa Perreira.

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