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.


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.


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


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.


 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.


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

CERM-ESA graduate awarded for her academic achievement at Mandela University

Sarah Jemutai, winner of the ‘best dissertation in the Humanities’ award


The evening of June 21, 2018 was a particularly special one for CERM-ESA Master’s student Sarah Jemutai, her supervisors as well as for her family and friends. Sarah, who graduated cum laude, was selected as the recipient of the Nelson Mandela University Council’s best Master’s Degree by Dissertation in the Humanities Award, which she received during the Academic Awards Dinner held at Port Elizabeth’s Feather Market Hall. The dinner is an annual event to acknowledge academic excellence, both in undergraduate and postgraduate studies across all of the faculties at Nelson Mandela University. Excellence is one of the university’s six values and is believed to be central to the institution’s striving for a sustainable future.

Sarah completed her Master’s degree by dissertation, an academic journey which requires commitment, sustained hard work and diligence. Her dissertation is entitled ‘The effect of using a six-brick Duplo block guided play approach on pre-school learners’ visual perceptual abilities’. The study situates itself within the pre-existing body of knowledge around the development of children’s visual and spatial abilities, which belies reading, writing and mathematics. However, through her research, Sarah identified that pre-existing studies have focused on older children who are already literate and who are being educated within a Western context. In light of this gap, the focus and dimensions of Sarah’s study are particularly topical. In focusing on the use of a six brick Duplo block intervention in one South African and one Kenyan school, Sarah argues that children’s development is accelerated through teachers’ facilitation of guided play using the six brick Duplo block approach. In turn, these findings have implications for curriculum developers, early childhood advisors and teachers when designing instructional materials that promote the development of reading, writing and numeracy skills in pre-literate children.

Not only does her study attest to the ever-evolving ways in which we conceive of educational methodologies and innovation, but her outstanding academic achievement demonstrates the potential of committed hard work, which sets an inspiring example for CERM-ESA students to follow.

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.