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AAU head calls for more intra-African university collaboration

Image: Association of African Universities

Olusola Oyewole says the continent’s universities have been “ignored” for too long

Universities in Africa are “ethically and politically obligated” to collaborate with each other, the secretary-general of the Association of African Universities has said.

Olusola Oyewole makes the point in a policy brief published last month, which aims to ramp up efforts to integrate African higher education.

He argues that integration may be bolstered by removing visas for African students studying outside of their own countries in Africa, by setting up joint degree programmes and mutual recognition of qualifications, and by fostering pan-African research funds and an African credit-transfer system.

“The universities of Africa have for long…been ignored by African governments and their peoples,” Oyewole writes. “This can no longer be allowed to continue.”

Break with the past

Historical collaboration patterns, which have seen African universities partnering with better-resourced institutions outside of the continent, need to be challenged, he adds.

“Universities must also be reminded that their collaboration with other fellow universities in other African states is not only a possibility all of them must consider…but an obligation, ethical and political,” Oyewole writes.

“This twofold obligation stems from the assumption, unanimously accepted by all African political leaders and institutions, that continental African integration is needed…to bring African nations to the level of development and world influence that they deserve.”

Continental theme

Oyewole adds that the time for action is now, with the African Union having designated 2024 as a “year of education”, and while the continent is stepping up efforts to create a continental free-trade area.

African heads of state are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 17-18 February. They will discuss a concept note, published on 11 January, outlining the rationale for the choice of education as the theme for the year.

The note mentions the launch and operationalisation of an African Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Fund, backed by contributions from AU member states.

Africa is also drawing up a new 10-year strategy to promote science, technology and innovation collaboration and investment on the continent.