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MUII celebrates 10 years of partnership in research and capacity building

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On Wednesday 7th February 2018, the Makerere UniversityUganda Virus Research Institute centre of Excellence of Infectious and Immunity Research and Training organised a symposium to celebrate the successful 10 years of hard work in capacity development and implementation of basic science, cutting edge technology and modern analytic methods to address health research needs in Uganda and the region.

Officially opened by the Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the symposium provided a platform to scientists to discuss the various solutions to the health issues that affect human capacity on the African continent.

The Makerere UniversityUganda Virus Research Institute centre of Excellence of Infectious and Immunity Research and Training symposium was held as part of the general annual meeting. The Symposium brought together African institutions, African Scientists and global leaders in scientific research, and equal partners with international colleagues in conducting research to solve the health problems of Africa and the World.

The Centre of Excellence was launched in 2008 as a partnership between Uganda’s leading research institutions. To date the programme has supported Masters, PhDs, Post-Doctoral and research group leaders fellowships for 50 fellows as well as providing small grants for many centres members to foster training and collaboration regionally and internationally.

Addressing the participants, Prof Barnabas Nawangwe acknowledged the tremendous achievements realised by the Centre since its inception. According to him, the measures of success that have been reported in terms of further funding achieved and research papers published are striking, and demonstrate the contribution of the programme to scientific excellence, leadership and progress.

MUII is aligned to Makerere University’s motto “We build for the future” and to the University’s strategic focus to be a research led University. This partnership is contributing to educating the leaders of tomorrow, and to the transformation of the University. We value this initiative and congratulate MUII members on their achievements. We thank the Welcome Trust, the UK Department for International Development and NEPAD for this investment at our University, and AESA (the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa) at the African Academy of Sciences for management of the programme,” he said.

He applauded the former Vice Chancellor of Makerere University Prof. Livingstone Luboobi who signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health that recognised the historically close training and research partnership between Makerere University and UVRI, the two premier Ugandan institutions in academia and health research respectively.

The MoU signed by the two institutions formalised the partnership, and strengthened the emerging MUII initiative to work closely. This enabled MUII to support important developments first at the College of Health Sciences, and also in the Colleges of Natural Sciences, Veterinary Medicine and others. Prof. Luboobi also played an instrumental role in the nurturing of Bioinformatics at Makerere University.

“We have undergraduates given internship placements at UVRI. Immunology graduate training and research has been strengthened at the University through the establishment of a state-of-the art immunology laboratory facility, an MSc graduate course in Immunology and Microbiology was established at the College of Health Sciences, and a new Department of Immunology and Molecular Biology has been launched with a MUII fellow as its leader,” he remarked.

Prof. Nawangwe was happy to note that several Makerere University workshops have been held in the key disciplines of immunology and bioinformatics at the Uganda Virus Research Institute and UVRI research infrastructure for bioinformatics and immunology has been made accessible to Makerere University scientists. He thanked the international and regional partners, particularly the University of Cambridge, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine for the support they have rendered to MUII to ensure that it fulfils its objectives.

The Director, MUII-PLUS Prof. Alison Elliot remarked that the symposium provides an opportunity to scientific researchers around the world to get together and share scientific research ideas that have benefitted and developed the country’s health sector as well as the continent. She recognised the tremendous achievements realised by the centre in health research and developments and urged the institutions involved to continue supporting the centre in the journey of achieving a better health service.

“That Great strides in research and training capacity are being made at both institutions with MUII alumni and fellows taking up positions of leadership as Deans and Heads of Departments at the University. Makerere University graduate students are given access to specialised laboratory equipment at UVRI, and dissertation co-supervision at UVRI, and we have academic scholarly benefits from honorary appointments of UVRI staff to college departments,” he said.

Reiterating the importance of the Centre, The Director of Uganda Virus Research Institute Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, said that with both financial and infrastructural support at the centre, scientific researchers have embarked on a journey of strengthening infection control in the country. He emphasised the importance of research as the solution to the health problems that have long affected people in the world.

“Research should be community responsive, it should be used to inform policies and research findings should be integrated in our strategies that are developed to deliver health services in our communities. As we discuss the common diseases that affect our health, we should take it as an opportunity to improve our health and research,” he said.

Prof. Abdoulaye Djimde, the Director, DELGEME at University of Science, Techniques and Technologies of Bamako, Mali delivered a key note address on Malaria genetics. The day’s presentations focused on Trypanosomiasis, Helminths and metabolism, emerging and re-emerging of infectious diseases, HIV and Tuberculosis, Maternal neonatal and reproductive health.

Article by Mak Public Relations Office

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African Universities urged on developing comprehensive safeguarding policies with critical elements of safety & protection

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Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University presenting a lead paper on “Enhancing Safeguarding at institutions of higher Learning” at the Vice Chancellors’ Forum, a side-event of the 19th RUFORUM AGM held in Yaoundé, Cameroon. Right is Prof. Jude Lubega, the Vice Chancellor Nkumba University. 19th RUFORUM AGM, Theme: “Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa”, 28th October-2nd November 2023 Vice Chancellors' Forum side-event, Palais de Congrès, Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa.

The Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe has urged Universities and other institutions of higher learning in Africa to embrace the approach of having comprehensive safeguarding policies where important elements of safety and protection are considered and all the common forms of risk, abuse and harm are emphasized.

This was during the Vice Chancellors’ Forum, one of the high powered side events of the RUFORUM Annual General Meeting that provides significant platforms for Vice Chancellors of all RUFORUM member Universities to engage, discuss, deliberate and guide on how universities, government and development partners can support the RUFORUM vision and mission of becoming a leader in higher agricultural education.

The Vice Chancellors’ Forum 2023  that was held in Yaoundé Cameroon during the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting that proceeded from 28th October- 2nd November 2023 was the most attended ever with over 150 Vice Chancellors from 40 African countries and other parts of the world. The Forum deliberated on emerging and contemporary issues in higher education to strengthen university systems, promote inclusion and enhance the relevance of universities in national and regional development.

Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji, RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor University of Bamenda, Cameroon giving her welcome speech. 19th RUFORUM AGM, Theme: “Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa”, 28th October-2nd November 2023 Vice Chancellors' Forum side-event, Palais de Congrès, Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa.
Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji, RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor University of Bamenda, Cameroon giving her welcome speech.

In her welcome speech, Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji, RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor University of Bamenda, Cameroon welcomed all Vice chancellors in attendance and acknowledged their strong commitment to the RUFORUM as a Network. She also appreciated the efforts of the Vice Chancellors in setting the agenda for the network to ensure its competitiveness.

According to her, RUFORUM has come of age but growth across every life’s journey comes along with its own challenges and opportunities.  She therefore thanked all the Vice Chancellors that have committed and continue to clear the membership fees in time on annual basis.  “Your contribution of US$5,000 is what keeps the Secretariat operational,” she said.

Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji drew the attention of the Vice Chancellors to some critical issues such as low institutional burn-out rates of grant funding, the terrible completion rate of graduate students across the network, curriculum reviews that do not incorporate innovative academic programmes and policies that do not respond to global discourses. Noting that such issues have posed serious barriers achieving the network’s objectives.

Prof. Openjuru L. George, the Vice-Chancellor of Gulu University (Right) with some of the Vice Chancellors that attended the 2023 Forum. 19th RUFORUM AGM, Theme: “Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa”, 28th October-2nd November 2023 Vice Chancellors' Forum side-event, Palais de Congrès, Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa.
Prof. Openjuru L. George, the Vice-Chancellor of Gulu University (Right) with some of the Vice Chancellors that attended the 2023 Forum.

She urged all universities to collectively support the RUFORUM Secretariat during resource mobilization. “It is important to note that RUFORUM Secretariat is not a donor as many of the members might perceive it. Rather, RUFORUM Secretariat works with all of us to raise resources that can either be sub-granted and/or directly disbursed by the funding agency to each of the universities that is participating. The Secretariat can support the universities efforts in training and ideation processes as well as brokering partnerships with ease. However, we need to ensure that we are all cooperative,” She stated. Presenting a lead paper titled, Enhancing Safeguarding at institutions of higher Learning, Prof. Nawangwe noted that Makerere University  is committed to being a professionally governed, equitable, inclusive and gender mainstreamed institution. In line with this commitment, Makerere University has cited the need to have a comprehensive safe guarding policy that is intentional in ensuring that important elements of safety and protection are considered and all the common forms of risk, abuse and harm are emphasized.

According to Prof. Nawangwe, over the years Makerere University has built a record of governing and administrative policies and frameworks such as the Makerere University Policy and Regulations against Sexual Harassment, Makerere University Gender Equity Policy, the Student Accommodation Policy, the Risk Management Plan, the  Policy on Persons with Disabilities, the Human Resources Manual as amended, Information and Communication Technology Policy  which addresses issues of cyber security  and abuse and the Open Distance and E-learning Policy. However, these do not adequately and comprehensively address the key elements of safety and protection.

Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University (Right) and Prof. Jude Lubega, the Vice Chancellor of Nkumba University (Left) attending the 2023 Forum. 19th RUFORUM AGM, Theme: “Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa”, 28th October-2nd November 2023 Vice Chancellors' Forum side-event, Palais de Congrès, Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa.
Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the Vice Chancellor of Uganda Christian University (Right) and Prof. Jude Lubega, the Vice Chancellor of Nkumba University (Left) attending the 2023 Forum.

“These policies only feature identification and prevention as elements of safeguarding hence guidance on the report procedures are least provided for. They much highlight emotional risk and harm and neglect cyber security threats, financial exploitation, limitation of academic freedoms for staff and students,” he said.  

“All in all, the policies lack some of the internationally considered forms of risk, abuse and harm.  In Africa, we are the second recipients of refugees in the whole world, but we lack anything about protecting refugees in our policies and some of the policies do not have the strategic plans to address any form of risk, abuse and harm,” he added.

He mentioned that the COVID 19 pandemic escalated the issue of mental health with so many cases of mental illnesses globally, an indicator that  it is only in a safe and protected environment that people are mentally healthy to be fully creative and innovative.

The Vice Chancellors Forum 2023 also deliberated on topics such as exploring mechanisms for integrating universities into national and regional innovation systems and aligning African agricultural higher education to the future-of-work on the continent and globally.

Prof. Paul Waako, the Vice Chancellor of Busitema University attending the 2023 Forum. 19th RUFORUM AGM, Theme: “Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa”, 28th October-2nd November 2023 Vice Chancellors' Forum side-event, Palais de Congrès, Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa.
Prof. Paul Waako, the Vice Chancellor of Busitema University attending the 2023 Forum.

Presenting on behalf of Prof. Bonang Mohale, Chancellor, University of Free State, South Africa, Agnes W. Mwang’ombe, a Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology- Department of Plant Science and Crop Protection- University of Free State said that university education has become  very competitive  yet it is crucial for universities  to remain ahead and relevant to their clients  and other stakeholders  through inclusive virtual modes that have set in  new dimensions  such as in-house pool of talent that in most cases await to be tapped.  She mentioned that it is high time for Universities to shun away from the rampant blame games of how African graduates are not ready to tackle community challenges and focus on revamping, modifying and creating new systems of conducting research. 

“As universities, we are expected to produce relevant information, knowledge, technologies, and innovations to fulfill aspirations; develop mechanisms to tap on human resource and mobilize research funds for the university. There is need for actual retooling of academic staff to  be able  to harness the various  competences and skills  represented in the universities  including students through  building alliances  and effective  teams to grant calls with wider society impact,” she said.  

In the context of food and nutrition insecurity, Prof. Mwang’ombe noted that the  changing climate  has dwindled natural resources  and increased  social  and economic inequalities hence raising  concerns for more health  food systems and eco-system services. She therefore called for collective efforts towards building resilience for sustainable agriculture and economic empowerment of those most affected by climate change through   bio diversity restoration using natural based solutions.

Some of the Vice Chancellors that attended the 2023 Forum. 19th RUFORUM AGM, Theme: “Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa”, 28th October-2nd November 2023 Vice Chancellors' Forum side-event, Palais de Congrès, Yaoundé, Cameroon, Africa.
Some of the Vice Chancellors that attended the 2023 Forum.

“Food and nutrition is constrained by many factors including the heavy reliance on very few staple crops yet Africa has the diversity of crops some of which can handle some of the current situations,” she noted.

Painting a picture of the Future of Work for a competitive Africa, Prof. Peter Kamwi Matengu, Vice Chancellor, University of Namibia, was concerned about the role of higher education in developing interventions as a mitigating factor towards decreasing jobs in the agricultural sector. According to him, a report published in 2023 by the World Economic Forum recorded 673 million jobs across the globe.  It is however expected that this number will decline by 83 million hence creating a job deficit of about 2%.

“It is not surprising that the field of agriculture which has increasingly been mechanized and automated will lose up to 60% of the jobs. The World Economic Forum report also notes that although the automation in Agriculture will create up to 25% of jobs, it is also expected that 75% of job will be lost in Africa if there is no intervention of up scaling and re scaling. This also means that 44% of the workers whose skills need to be upgraded will face a disruption,” he said.

Prof. Kamwi Matengu called upon universities in Africa to undertake relevant, impactful, responsive research that majorly focus on participation.  “ The kind of research, I am talking about should enable us translate our knowledge into practice  and African education should focus on national self- reliance and train people to be internationally competitive and to be very  aware that we have  the responsibility of the welfare of everyone,”  he emphasized. The Vice Chancellors’ Forum 2023 was moderated by Prof. Roger Tsafack Nanfosso, Vice Chancellor, University of Dschang and Canon Prof. Olivia Nassaka Banja, Vice Chancellor of Ndejje University.

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Call For Expression of Interest: MURBS Independent Trustee (RE-ADVERTISED)

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Front Row (Left to Right): MURBS Trustees Dr. Deus Kamunyu Muhwezi, Mr. George Bamugemereire, CPA Franco Angida Mugyema and Mr. Joseph Ikarokok. MURBS Presentation of Performance FY 2022/2023, 24th October 2023, Telepresence Centre, Level 2, Senate Building, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda. East Africa.

Makerere University Retirement Benefits Scheme (MURBS) is a Scheme for Makerere University staff. MURBS was established under irrevocable trusts with effect from 1st April 2009. MURBS was set up by Makerere University for the purpose of providing retirement benefits to employees of Makerere University upon retirement from the University. The Scheme is governed by a Board of Trustees whose fiduciary mandate is enshrined under the Trust Deed and Scheme Rules. MURBS is a Mandatory Employer-Based Scheme that is licensed with the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority (License No. RBS.0005).

MURBS is inviting Eligible Individuals to submit their Expression of Interest to join the MURBS Board of Trustees in the capacity of an Independent Trustee.

Eligibility Criteria for the Independent Trustee of MURBS

Individuals interested in this role should satisfy the following Eligiblity Criteria:

a) Meet the MURBS Fit and Proper Criteria (Download the form from the MURBS website at https://murbs.mak.ac.ug/join-our-team/);
b) A minimum of a Postgraduate qualification in any of the disciplines; Strategy Planning and Management; Pension Administration and Management; Finance or Commerce, Investments; Insurance, Statistics, Actuarial Science, Economics, Mathematics, Literature, or Law;
c) At least 3 years’ experience as a member of the Board of Directors of an entity with assets not less than Ushs 50bn or at least 3 years‘ experience as a Trustee of a Retirement Benefits Scheme whose Fund value is not less than Ushs 50 bn; and,
d) Not a member of staff of Makerere University or a member of Makerere University Council in the last five (5) years.

Submission Deadline: 3:00 pm on 19th December 2023.

Detailed Terms of Reference to support response to this call can be accessed via the link: https://murbs.mak.ac.ug/join-our-team/ or by sending an email to info@murbs.mak.ac.ug to request the same.

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The 19th RUFORUM AGM in Yaoundé calls for consolidated efforts towards transforming higher agricultural & tertiary education to contribute to sustainable development & food security in Africa

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Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, Cameroon's State Minister, Ministry of Higher Education, representing His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé.

The Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a consortium of 163 universities in 40 African countries held its 19th Annual General Meeting at the Palais De Congres in Yaoundé, Cameroon from 28th October to 2nd November 2023. The first of its kind in West and Central Africa, the RUFORUM AGM 2023 provided an opportunity for over 600 delegates from Africa and beyond including; Ministers, Development Partners, University leaders, students, private sector leaders; farmers and farmer representatives; emerging and early career researchers as well as other key stakeholders in agriculture and higher education to share experiences and chart a way forward for transforming higher agricultural and tertiary education to contribute to sustainable development in Africa under the theme: Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa.

Officially opened by His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon, represented by Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, Cameroon’s Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education, the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting  in Yaoundé  provided a platform for participants to deliberate on key strategies for transforming higher agricultural and tertiary education to contribute to national, continental and global development as well as building consensus among key stakeholders in agriculture and higher education on the actions required to strengthen the role and/or integration of universities in agricultural and national development processes in line with the aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063 ‘The Africa We Want’.

Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, Cameroon's Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education, viewing some of the posters that were presented by participants at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, Cameroon’s Minister of State, Minister of Higher Education, viewing some of the posters that were presented by participants at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

In a speech presented by Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo at the official opening ceremony, His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon stressed RUFORUM’s significant efforts to support the African Union Agenda 2063 when he said, “RUFORUM’s vision 2030, makes the body a significant contributor to transformation of Africa and vehemently seeks to harness the discovery, engagements and learning of  vibrant transformative  universities to catalyze sustainable, inclusive  agricultural  development to feed and create  prosperity for Africa.”

According to him, it is worth indicating that agriculture in Africa should be understood in its broadest sense to include but not limited to animal and crop production, livestock, wild life, fisheries and forestry. Hence RUFORUM’s mission since its inception in 2004, of strengthening the capacities of universities to foster innovation responsive to demands of small holder farmers through the training of higher quality researchers, the output of impact-oriented research and maintenance of collaborative working relations among researchers, farmers, national agricultural research institutions, the Private sector and government is worthy prioritizing.

Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, Cameroon's State Minister, Ministry of Higher Education, receiving the Contemporary painting on behalf His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon.
Professor Jacques Fame Ndongo, Cameroon’s State Minister, Ministry of Higher Education, receiving the Contemporary painting on behalf His Excellency Paul Biya, President of the Republic of Cameroon.

He called upon participants to use the meeting forum to change the face and image of the African continent through constructive and fruitful deliberations on agricultural production, food safety research and better health food security. To him the RUFORUM AGM is a bigger opportunity to think and act, make proposals, formulate recommendations and necessary resolutions which if acted on can change the face of the African continent.

“This is the turning point for the African continent to think big and have the courage to dream big. This is our opportunity to make a difference in our world. This is the opportunity Africa needed to change the target of its demand of action.  We have to mutualize and federate our actions and voices in the interest of a united, strong and prosperous Africa,” he said.

The contemporary painting presented to His Excellence Paul Biya, President of the United Republic of Cameroon by RUFORUM in recognition of his outstanding, selfless and patriotic services s to the people of Cameroon and Africa at large. 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting, 28th October to 2nd November 2023, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The contemporary painting presented to His Excellence Paul Biya, President of the United Republic of Cameroon by RUFORUM in recognition of his outstanding, selfless and patriotic services s to the people of Cameroon and Africa at large.

The 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting carried a unique vibrant turn as being the first to be held in West and Central Africa. The weeklong event broke the record as the most and well attended ever with over 600 participants across the region as well as international delegates. The colorful event was embroiled  with informative, constructive, edutainment activities in form of pre-AGM events, side events, Business Meetings, capacity building and mentoring sessions, scientific conferences, poster sessions and exhibitions well aligned to key thematic areas as well as the AGM theme: Transforming Higher Education to Sustainably Feed and Create Prosperity for Africa.

Additionally, high-level policy dialogues with Ministers, Senior Government Leaders and Development Partners were held to review the finance and other resource mobilization strategies as well as following up on the actualization of the available national, regional and global policies geared towards higher education transformation and ensuring of food security in Africa. 

Speaking at the Opening Ceremony, Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji, the RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor University of Bamenda thanked His Excellence Paul Biya and the Government of Cameroon for accepting to host the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting and equally appreciated the financial support towards the same cause.

Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji, the RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor University of Bamenda. 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting, 28th October to 2nd November 2023, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji, the RUFORUM Board Chair and Vice Chancellor University of Bamenda.

In a special way, Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji thanked the Ministry of State for Higher education and all the sister ministries of Government of Cameroon that worked hard to see to it that  the 19th RUFORUM AGM is a success. Equally, the Board Chair, extended her sincere gratitude to the people of Cameroon for the warm reception and support.

 “My special tribute goes to the members of AGM 2023 Sub committees. You have indeed done a great job throughout the ten months of organizing this significant event. On behalf of RUFORUM Network, I thank you. To the RUFORUM Secretariat under the dynamic leadership of Prof. Patrick Okwori, accept our immense gratitude for your strong determination and dedication,” she gratefully said.

An exhibitor showcasing her work at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
An exhibitor showcasing her work at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

She recognized the tremendous achievements and developments aligned to RUFORUM’s nineteen years (19) of existence noting that the strong network has wisely selected its priority areas of focus to transform higher education and agricultural sector in Africa as;

  1. Reform the training agenda for Africa to meet the development needs
  2. Entrepreneurship and business incubation  for wealth creation
  3. Research for Development and wealth creation
  4. Partnerships for scale and impact

“As African people, permit me to use the adage of a broom; it is easy to break a single broom piece but when you combine several small brooms together they then make a broom stack that will not be easy to break. The collective power that RUFORUM has put together through 163 universities from across 40 countries bears such strength. The Vice Chancellors gathered here today remain committed to the core values and foundations of the network. To illustrate this Your Excellency, each of the Vice Chancellors meet their own costs of participation.” She happy said. 

Some of the exhibition stalls at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Some of the exhibition stalls at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

In the same spirit the RUFORUM Executive Secretary Prof. Patrick Okori deeply thanked the host Universities that is, University of Bamenda, University of Ngaoundere, University of Dschang, University of Buea and University of Maroua under the strong and able leadership of the RUFORUM Board Chair, Prof. Theresia Nkuo-Akenji for successfully hosting the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting.

He also recognized the Former Vice Chancellor of University of Ngaoundere Prof. Florence Uphie Chinje Melo who heavily supported the AGM preparations. He was astonished with the presence of the Africa Development Bank, MasterCard Foundation, research international communities, RUFORUM for Agricultural Research in Africa, the Africa Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, sub regional Agricultural organizations such as the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA), the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA)  and the West and Central African Council for Agricultural Research and Development (CORAF).

“You have all provided support for this engagement, thank you very much. Together we will continue this journey of transforming Africa’s Agricultural and higher education to produce human resources and development solutions that Africa and indeed the world needs,” he said.

The RUFORUM Executive Secretary Prof. Patrick Okori. 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting, 28th October to 2nd November 2023, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The RUFORUM Executive Secretary Prof. Patrick Okori.

Reflecting on the AGM’s theme, Prof. Okori emphasized the need for Africa to become food secure when he said, “Africa must be an equal opportunity creator for the young generation, it must create wealth for its people and provide opportunities for the present and future and these are well summarized in agenda 2063. It is our collective duty therefore to turn these opportunities and actions into investment.”

According to him, the RUFORUM Network remains strong in building capacity and providing the necessary development solutions and opportunities. He noted that Africa generates about 10-12 million job entrants annually but the continent’s economy in its current configuration can only produce 3 million jobs. To him, for Africa to therefore reap from its demographic dividends, there is need to strengthen the paths to demographic transition of keeping young girls in school.

Prof. Okori also mentioned that RUFORUM is currently intensifying its inclusion and diversity targets. From 45%, the network has an ambitious target of at least 70%. “We must slow the rate at which girls give birth when young. It is the only way we are going to benefit from our population dividend,” he said.

Some of the dignitaries at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Some of the dignitaries at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

According to him, the higher degree needs for Africa is pretty dire. The World Bank recommends 10,000 PhDs to Africa.  This can be compared to India whose signal population of 1. 4 billion registers 24000 PhDs a year. The pressure therefore on Africa’s side to intensify graduate training is real.

“Our graduate training in sciences therefore is one of the drivers to achieve this and it is the immense reason as to why in this meeting we have social and development partners. We are launching a journey with the Africa Development Bank that will bring us together as apex organizations in Africa to work together and solve our own challenges. However, as we do all these, we need to celebrate Africa. We should be recognizing and celebrating people who made what Africa is today,” he said.

Africa is informed by a number of important mutually interacting factors that collectively, are affecting the growth and progress of the continent. The economic outlook of the African continent in 2023 by the African Development Bank and other global apex development financial institutions was positive. However, Africa’s economic growth has since then decelerated, and is now projected to be lower than the previously projected rate of 4.1%.

Colorful moment when flags of RUFORUM member states were displayed at 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Colorful moment when flags of RUFORUM member states were displayed at 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Agriculture a key sector, continues to be affected by both natural and human induced factors. It continues to face serious threats from climate. Studies by the United Nation’s Convention to Combat Desertification show that Africa accounts for 44% of severe droughts recorded globally in the last 50 years, causing economic losses of more than USD 70 billion. In 2022, an estimated loss of US$ 8.5 billion in economic damages was experienced due to climate change. Clearly, climate change and weather variability, remains one of the grand challenges of the 21st century for Africa and the World, because it affects key livelihood and strategic areas of emerging economies.

Unemployment facing Africa’s dominant demographic-the youth, raises questions about education, skilling and jobs creation while inclusion and diversity, the underpinning for an equal society, remains challenging. The question then to academia, researchers, development practitioners and policymakers is, “what step must we take right now to address the challenges to our current and future generations?”

“Our resounding response as RUFORUM is in line with what Malcolm X said many years ago, “Education and research for development are the passports to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” said Prof. Partick Okori.

According to the Deputy Minister for Education in Malawi, Her Excellence Mdooko Nancy Chawola who represented the visiting ministers of RUFORUM partner countries, African countries should put in place vibrant resource mobilization mechanisms to collectively finance Africa’s education and support governments that are battling with competitive budgetary demands.

“For the universities to offer solutions for the challenges the continent is facing, there is need to rebuild the curriculum that responds to our current needs and not what we needed yesterday. Our respective countries are grappling with higher levels of unemployment, can investors assist by producing graduates with entrepreneurial skills so that they are able to employ themselves and others. Of course there will be need to put in place support mechanism for such graduates to take over,” she said.

Participants at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Participants at the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

She equally acknowledged the national regulatory frameworks such as the Malawi Regulation Framework 2063 developed inline with the African Union  Agenda 2063 the Africa we want, in which  the continent aspires to be prosperous by 2063 through various means such as modernizing agricultural for increased production and  productivity there by making people food secure.

She applauded RUFORUM’s efforts towards zero hunger in Africa through its vision 2030. According to Mdooko Nancy Chawola, food security is supposed be prerogative as well highlighted in the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) that is geared towards ending hunger, attaining food security, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable development.

In Cameroon, Agriculture and Education have been prioritized as drivers for economic growth and transformation. Through an agricultural flagship program initiated by His Excellence Paul Biya, science programmes and financial services as well as favorable ways of accessing market have been introduced in the country with the aim of transforming agricultural sector into a value added industrialized and integrated system engine of economic growth.

According to Prof. Ngomo Horace Manga- Vice Chancellor, University Buea, the government of Cameroon has resolved to grant its people with education that can help them manage their personal, national and Africa’s present and future economic destiny. In 2022, His excellence Paul Biya endorsed the recruitment process of 2000 lecturers in universities to ensure the quality of higher education in Cameroon.

Prof. Ngomo Horace Manga - Vice Chancellor, University Buea. 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting, 28th October to 2nd November 2023, Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Prof. Ngomo Horace Manga – Vice Chancellor, University Buea.

“Collectively these education reforms and investment actions affordably can transform the people of Cameroon into a strong emerging market. Cameroon carries the highest science female adoptive rate in sub-Saharan Africa at 73%. This is a strong result of government delivery of United Nations SDG 5 of achieving education and build human capital for the country,” he noted.

The Opening Ceremony for the 19th RUFORUM Annual General Meeting unlocked the floor for critical discussions and meetings throughout the week. At the same function, RUFORUM presented a contemporary painting to His Excellence Paul Biya, President of the United Republic of Cameroon in recognition of his outstanding, selfless and patriotic services s to the people of Cameroon and Africa at large.   

On 25th October 2023, the RUFORUM Network equally participated in the Cameroon Higher Education Day, the first of its kind in the country.

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