Experts work with African universities to develop blueprint for engagement opportunities

Carleton is among 15 Canadian universities to get funding for a first-time project that partners institutions here with African counterparts.

The program, Strengthening Higher Education Stakeholder Relations in Africa, is managed by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) and the African Association of Universities (AAU), with financial support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).

The goal is to build stronger alliances between African universities and community groups, industry and other higher education partners, as well as producing case studies that highlight successful African university-industry linkages.

The project builds on an Carleton’s 30-year relationship with the University of Dar es Salamm and presents a new opportunity to partner with the University of Botswana, says Blair Rutherford, director of Carleton’s Institute of African Studies.

“It’s great that AUCC is trying to facilitate more ties between Canadian universities and African universities and it shows that they recognize Africa as an important part of the world for a variety of reasons and they’re doing their bit to help Canadian universities to build on existing ties and potentially forge new ones, as Carleton itself is doing,” says Rutherford, adding that the project could lead to more Carleton/African student exchanges and faculty teaching opportunities.

Through a competitive process, Carleton received $71,600 to participate in two components of the overall project – to develop models for engagement and case studies.

Katherine Graham, associate vice-president (Academic); Moses Kiggundu, from the Sprott School of Business and Dinesh Kakadia, of the Carleton University Research Office, are directly involved and Rutherford is overseeing it. Graham is working with the University of Dar es Salaam and her colleagues at the University of Botswana.

For Graham, the project was a natural fit with her interests in engagement and forging economic partnerships.

“I will be working with the office of planning at the University of Dar es Salaam to help them elaborate their plans for engagement with the private sector and with small enterprises that work in enterprise zones that have been set up in parts of Tanzania,” says Graham, who returns from Africa in early December.

“We get a stronger relationship with key national universities in the countries involved. It’s a learning experience for us in terms of engaging with our colleagues in those universities and it may result in further research and engagement.”

To date, Carleton has already hosted two delegations from both African universities. During these visits, the delegations connected with key stakeholders who are interested in strategic partnership.

“One of the things we have been able to do so far in discussions with our African colleagues, is to begin to illuminate a model for them of engagement,” says Graham. “They do have relations with private-sector firms but there are issues around access to capital, government regulation and transportation.”

At the conclusion of her recent visit to Tanzania, Graham says all the Canadians will convene in Nairobi with their African counterparts.

“We are going to collectively present the results of our work so far to colleagues and work further in the development of strategic plans for the African universities as they go about their engagement activities,” she added.

The next milestone will be the preparation of case studies conducted by African universities. Graham and her Carleton colleagues will likely be expected to provide feedback.

“It’s by no means a finished assignment but we are well on our way,” says Graham.

Meanwhile, Rutherford says participating in this project is a great opportunity for Carleton.

“By working with our colleagues at the University of Dar es Salaam (and the University of Botswana), we get a different understanding of some of the strengths and potential weaknesses of our relationships with the private sector.”

This entry was written by Maria McClintock and posted in the issue. Tags applied to this article are: . Leave a comment, bookmark the permalink or share the following short URL for this article via social media:

Maria McClintock

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