The Ambassador of France to Uganda H.E Stéphanie Rivoal has emphasized the importance of freedom of speech and rights to participate in open discussions. Describing freedom of speech as the essence of democracy, H.E Stéphanie Rivoal said that people should have liberty to debate openly on any topic.
“Where you can debate, you can have freedom. Where you can have freedom, you can have peace, where you can have it all, you live in democracy,” remarked the Ambassador during the Opening Ceremony of the Kampala Geopolitics Conference held on Friday 26th October 2018 at Makerere University.
The Kampala Geopolitics conference was organized by the Embassy of France in Uganda in partnership with Makerere University, Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), Alliance Française de Kampala (AFK), UN Women and the Institute for International and Strategic Affairs (iRiS).
The two days’ conference (26th-27th October 2018) brings together professors, researchers, politicians, diplomats, journalists, activists and key leaders from various countries around world to engage in an interactive debate on the contemporary local and international issues.
Addressing dignitaries, international delegates and participants in the Makerere University Main Hall, the Ambassador called for an intensive discussion to find solutions to the challenges that affect the world at large.
“Geopolitics is all about understanding the world. Ignoring it, is short-sided because soon enough it will catch up with you. You may want to close your eyes to climate change, but it is coming. You may want to ignore terrorism, but it is happening. You may choose to brush aside social inequalities, but they are growing,” she explained.
Using one of the famous quotes of Nelson Mandela; ‘a good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger’; the Ambassador said that only a coward or a liar will run away from a debate, fearing that the mistruth will be uncovered.
“Debate between genuine leaders will bring them closer by providing the opportunity to clear misunderstandings, build bridges between cultures, personal views and ideologies,” she said.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed dignitaries, participants and international delegates to Makerere University; the vanguard of nurturing world-class political leaders and the alma mater of revolutionary, transformative and influential alumni.
Prof. Nawangwe revealed that the shifting geopolitics of the region has significantly affected the higher education sector. Thus some of the ideas raised during the conference would inform the ongoing process of formulating the next ten-year 2020-2030 Makerere University Strategic Plan.
The Country Representative of Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung, Mr. Mathias Kamp commended the panellists and moderators for accepting to guide the debate. He also called for a peaceful and constructive engagement.
Participants were thrilled by an interactive session involving Uganda’s best comedians Daniel Omara and Pablo. Other members included Aisha Ali, the Founder of I Profile Foundation and Deedan. The vibrant team improvised a blitz lecture on a number of issues namely: Are refugees’ beggars? Money, money, money; Minorities cost too much to society; and why black panther movie a hit; providing a platform for respective professors and experts to critically analyse the topics.
With the captivating engagement, the participants were ushered into panel discussions on the following topics:
- USA: Not the "Policeman of the World" anymore? Implications of the Trump Presidency on the global power relations
- Leave No One Behind: What is the economic cost of excluding minorities?
- Black Panther Phenomenon: Rethinking Africa through Fiction and Arts
- Social Media, Fake News and Online Manipulation: Are Beliefs winning over reason?
- Opening Doors or Building walls? Managing migration in US, Europe and Africa
- Make the planet great again: Is there still hope to fight climate change?
- Youth is the future: What are we doing to give hope to the young generation?
- Long live diplomacy: Multilateralism in the 21st Century
- Are Religions Peacemakers or troublemakers: The role of religion in volatile societies
On Saturday 27th October 2018, the following topics will be discussed;
- Old masters, new players: Is the African economy in the hands of foreigners?
- Democracy in danger? The basis of democracy and the global trends that undermine it
- Sports, not just for fun anymore? Distraction, industry, soft power?
- Alpha Males, newcomers, populists: What leaders are we craving for?
- Avenues for peace and stability: Peacebuilding, regional diplomacy and military intervention in Africa
- The power of food: Shall agriculture fill our stomach or your purse?
- Powerful women: Challenging male dominance
- The future of East Africa: Is the European Union a model or deterrent?
- What is going to kill us first? Global threats to human health
- Countering the expansion of islamist terrorism: from Middle East, Maghreb, Horn of Africa to western Countries
- Is money ruling the world? Side effects of unbridled capitalism
- One planet too many people? Are we too many for the resources of our planet?
Other activities lined up included: art performances, market place of art and ideas, live studio by Media challenge Initiative, exhibitions by artists, innovators and start-ups, students and youth-led initiatives and a democracy expo by Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung, Alliance Française De Kampala and Campus France.
Article by Nabatte Proscovia, Mak Public Relations Office
African Universities urged on developing comprehensive safeguarding policies with critical elements of safety & protection
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
“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.
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
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’.
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.
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 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.
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.
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;
- Reform the training agenda for Africa to meet the development needs
- Entrepreneurship and business incubation for wealth creation
- Research for Development and wealth creation
- 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.
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.
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.
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%.
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.
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.
“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.
2nd Issue of Mak-Research & Innovations Fund Bulletin
Welcome to the 2nd Issue of the Mak-RIF Bulletin. Makerere University has continued to receive funding from the Government of the Republic of Uganda, earmarked to support faculty members to conduct high impact Research and Innovations that contribute to national development.
In this issue of our Bulletin, we share about how the Mak- RIF Research Agenda and themes highlighted there in are guiding and contributing to our operations, awards made in the past financial years, a highlight of the research achievements, impact to-date, and a flash back to some of the fund activities among others.
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