African Excellence

UWC Centres of Excellence training workshop on the new DigiFace digital teaching and learning platform

In the first week of December 2020, the two UWC DAAD Centres of Excellence – the South African-German Centre for Development Research SA-GER CDR and the South African German Centre for Transnational Criminal Justice TRANSCRIM – took part in a training workshop on the use of the new DigiFace digital teaching and learning platform. Colleagues from Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, who are managing partners of the DigiFace project, organized and run the training workshop in a venue close to Cape Town.

DigiFace – short for “Digital Initiative for African Centres of Excellence” – is a new project funded by DAAD that aims at supporting and facilitating Higher Education learning and research at all DAAD African Centres of Excellence. The project is strengthening the Centres’ digital competencies as well as the networking among all the Centres – between all institutions involved, between staff, students, and alumni.

Core element of the DigiFace-initiative is the creation and establishment of a central interactive digital platform which is based on the Moodle learning management system. Participants in the training workshop started to develop course material and got a good understanding of both theoretical and practical knowledge required to make full use of the different tools and facilities of the platform. The workshop that way supported both Centres in offering course designs suitable for blended and hybrid learning, – both essential elements of the current and future learning environment at UWC. The two Centres, going forward, are joining forces to promote the use of the new platform in their respective institutes, and to collaborate more closely within the digital infrastructure that the new DigiFace project provides.

Members and facilitators of the training workshop: (back row right to left): Prof. John-Mark Iyi (UWC / TRANSCRIM), Lance Scheepers (UWC / SA-GER CDR), Ruth Knoblich (UWC / SA-GER CDR), Dr. Nortje Windell (UWC / TRANSCRIM), Elmien Waring (NMU Port Elizabeth), and Mike Swanepoel (NMU Port Elizabeth); (front row right to left): Shamiso Mandioma (UWC / SA-GER CDR), Karlien Potgieter (NMU Port Elizabeth), Prof. Paul Webb (NMU Port Elizabeth), and Dr. Michael Nguatem Belebema (UWC / SA-GER CDR).

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.

Workshop Report: Civilizing Resource Investments and Extractive Industries: Societal Negotiations and the Role of Law – 22.-23.09.2016, at the Center for Development Research, University of Bonn


The accelerating global scramble for natural resources has continued to push the accumulation of land and other natural resources to ever new frontiers, especially the ‘global south’. Increasing investments in the global south were driven by the availability of resources and the increased profitability of investments in ‘risky’ environments during periods of raw material price hikes until the late 2000s. Furthermore, investments in the rather weak institutional and regulatory context of ‘developing’ countries seemed to be easier to implement and more profitable than under the highly regulated conditions in the ‘developed’ world.

The tendency to ignore the environmental and social externalities of large investments in resources in the ‘global south’ has long been criticized and opposed by activists. Local activism and international campaigns have raised public awareness in the global north and political advocacy as well, as consumer pressure have contributed to the generation of – albeit largely voluntary – international standards  but also national laws meant to curb the most devastating consequences of resource investments and extraction. Resource accumulation and extraction has also given rise to a vivid academic debate about the macro- and micro-environmental, socio-economic, and political impact of investments as well as effective strategies to oppose, control and steer investments in order to prevent or mitigate negative impacts.

This workshop contributed to this ongoing debate in two ways:

On the one hand, it tried to understand how investments and resource extraction are negotiated in societies in in the ‘global south’. The focus was on the rather confused and complicated linkages between global, national and local arenas. Large international investments are often promoted by international agencies as well as national governments in the home and host countries and allegedly operate within the framework of international guidelines and national legislation. Nevertheless, the way they are implemented and the way their impacts are contained is not straightforward, but depends on negotiation processes – often conflicts – in which different actors such as companies, governments, international agencies, international, national and local NGOs, CBOs, and a broad variety of local stakeholders engage with varying and changing strategies and in varying and changing networks and coalitions. Here the focus of our interest was rather on extra-legal negotiations and coalition-building strategies and their outcomes.

On the other hand, large parts of these negotiations are supposed to be framed by guidelines, laws, and regulations, to be enshrined in environmental – and social licensing processes, or are ultimately adjudicated in courts. These institutional frameworks, and the fundamental rights for citizens and the environment they instill, are the outcome of decades of opposition, awareness raising and advocacy. They carry a high symbolic value and they could provide the foundation for civilizing resource investment and extractive industries. We therefore discussed processes of legislation and regulation, but also the ways laws and rules are unmade or circumvented, and citizen and environmental rights become emptied in the legal and administrative field. The later, for instance, could be the result of transnational investment agreements, the failure to define the duties of enforcement, the weighing of competing rights, through procedural means, or because of the particular habitus of the legal social field.

The workshop brought together senior resource persons and post-graduate students to spark a discussion between senior scientists with rich theoretical background and practical experience with upcoming scholars with rich empirical material. While the former provided theoretical input and historical background to the debate, the post-graduate students presented and discussed their work in progress.

Of the 18 participants who attended the workshop, 14 presented on the topic, among them GGCDS (Ghanaian-German Centre for Development Studies) PhD-students Maliam Acio and Asaah Mohammed from Ghana as well as Grace Kamugisha and Naomi Gichuki from TGCL (Tanzanian-German Centre for Eastern Africa Legal Studies), Tanzania. Furthermore, Martina Shakya from IEE (Institute of Development Research and Development Policy Ruhr-University Bochum, partner of the South African German Centre for Development Research), Prof. Amanor (Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana) and Prof. Diaby-Pentzlin (University for Applied Sciences Wismar) contributed presentations on land issues in West Africa to the workshop. Bruno Milanez (Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil) and Gustavo Gazzinelli (Councilor, State Council of Water Resources, Minas Gerais, Brazil) enriched the workshop with examples from Brazil on the topics of water and mining.

During the two days of the workshop, the participating PhD-Students and Senior Experts from eight different countries in Europe, Africa, Latin America and Asia had intensive and fruitful debates and a vivid exchange of ideas and experience. The participants’ scientific interaction will continue as the publication of an edited volume has been planned.

The workshop was made possible with the financial funding from the DAAD (through the Bonn International Graduate School – Development Research and the Ghanaian-German Centre for Development Studies). We would like to express our thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of this workshop, in particular to all participants for their valuable inputs and to the DAAD for the financial support.