College of Health Sciences (CHS)
A molecular phylogenetic and modelling approach towards understanding the transmission dynamics and genetic diversity of HIV-1 in the fishing communities of Lake Victoria, Uganda
Dr. BBOSA Nicholas used molecular phylogenetic and modelling approaches to dissect the transmission dynamics of HIV in the fishing communities of Lake Victoria. The fishing communities are disproportionately affected by HIV relative to the general population and for a long time, the dynamics of HIV transmission were not well understood. His research revealed for the first time in Uganda that the fishing communities were a sink for HIV transmission from the general population and negated the generally held assumption of the fishing communities being viral reservoirs. The findings have contributed towards informing public health policies on the implementation of targeted interventions for effective HIV epidemic control in most at-risk populations. This study was funded by the UK Medical research council, and was supervised by Prof. Pontiano Kaleebu, Prof. Andrew Leigh-Brown, Dr. Bernard S. Bagaya, Assoc. Prof Noah Kiwanuka and Dr. Rebecca N. Nsubuga.
Molecular characterization and rapid detection of Vibrio cholerae in Uganda: the relationship between human pathogens and aquatic environment.
Dr. BWIRE Godfrey studied Vibrio cholerae, the bacteria responsible for repeated cholera outbreaks in Uganda to determine their genetic profile, spread, transmission, virulence, aquatic environmental reservoirs and a field cholera rapid diagnostic test (RDT). The study found that cholera outbreaks in Uganda were due to three genetically related V. cholerae clones. The clones showed transmission within Uganda, East and Central African regions. The surface water sources in Uganda were possibly not reservoirs for the epidemic V. cholerae. The accuracy of the cholera RDT, a modified Crystal VC® dipsticks was high. This study enhances our understanding of cholera outbreaks and may help in prevention, control and elimination of cholera in Uganda. The study was jointly funded by the Uganda Ministry of Health and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (USA) and supervised by Prof. Christopher Garimoi Orach (MakSPH) and Prof. David Allen Sack (John Hopkins University, USA).
Human B and T cell responses to novel Schistosoma mansoni skin-stage antigens
Mr. EGESA Moses studied human immune responses to parasite components expressed at the vulnerable skin larva stage of the human blood fluke, Schistosoma. It was not known how endemic populations respond to recombinant components of the larvae and how these immune responses relate with intensity of infection when people get re-infected. The recombinant antigens induced inflammatory cytokine responses. Additionally, antibodies to these antigens were detectable and were affected by treatment. Although not associated with reinfection intensity, the information generated informs the selection and prioritization of vaccine targets. This study was funded by a Wellcome Trust Strategic Award and the DELTAS Africa Initiative and supported by European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme, and was supervised by Dr. Bernard Bagaya, Prof. Maria Yazdanbakhsh and Dr. Stephen Cose.
Sodium intake in post-stroke patients – its influence on blood pressure, knowledge and perceptions and stroke outcomes in Uganda
Dr. KADDUMUKASA Martin’s thesis focuses on salt intake and cardiovascular stroke. He estimates the daily intake and its association with blood pressure and stroke. He further investigates knowledge, perceptions, and consumption decisions after stroke. He uses 24-hour urine to determine the salt intake in stroke patients. He notes that stroke survivors with high blood pressure have twice the levels of salt compared to stroke survivors without blood pressure. Poor knowledge, perceptions, and salt use beliefs. Finally, a high frequency of stroke recurrence and death was observed in this group. This study recommends primary stroke prevention through salt intake reduction and population salt awareness through education. This study was supported by NIH MEPI-linked Neurology Award (No. 5R24TW008886), Fogarty International Centre and was supervised by Prof. E. Katabira, Prof. Martha Sajatovic, Prof. Larry Goldstein and Dr. Pundik.
Hypertension in Uganda: epidemiology and association with HIV infection and genetics
Dr. KAYIMA James investigated the association of HIV infection and selected genes with blood pressure traits among Ugandans. He observed that, unlike the western populations, the frequency of hypertension was lower among HIV-infected compared to uninfected subjects in Uganda. Further, he uncovered the profound negative effect of SUB/NPR3 gene on systolic blood pressure. These finding suggest a protective effect of HIV on hypertension; and a potential modifying effect of SUB/NPR3 gene on hypertension in African populations. This work elucidates the role of HIV and population-specific genetic factors in the control of hypertension risk. It builds a foundation for formulation of prevention efforts for cardiovascular disease among high-risk groups; and for pharmacogenetic studies to identify appropriate medication for hypertensive black populations. This study was funded by Medical Education Partnership Initiative on Cardiovascular Disease (MEPI-CVD), and was supervised by Dr. Achilles Katamba, Prof. Harriet Mayanja Kizza, Prof. Xiaofeng Zhu and Prof. Mahboob Rahman.
Functional host-genetic loci associated with pediatric HIV-disease progression in Uganda and Botswana
Dr. MBOOWA Gerald used genomics and bioinformatics approaches to identify a set of genes that informs us which person if HIV-infected will take many years to develop AIDS (symptoms) without HIV-treatment. His research revealed that following HIV infection, there are two groups of people; Rapid-AIDS progressors (develop symptoms in 3-years or less after infection) and Long-term non-progressors (>10-years to develop symptoms) without HIV-treatment. These findings have implications for the current “Test-and-Treat and Treat-for-Life” HIV-treatment policy; when one tests HIV-positive and started on treatment-for-life exposing them to drugs’ dangerous side-effects yet some HIV-infected people have nature ability to stay for many years without developing symptoms in absence of HIV-treatment. This study was funded by the Collaborative African Genomics Network-(CAfGEN) and Training Health Researchers into Vocational Excellence in East Africa-(THRiVE-2), and supervised by Prof Moses Joloba and Dr. David Kateete.
MPIMBAZA Arthur Mwambari
Determinants of severe malaria among children hospitalised at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital, Uganda
Dr. MPIMBAZA Arthur Mwambari studied determinants of severe malaria among children in the Busoga sub-region. Risk factors for severe malaria included delayed care seeking by more than 24 hours after fever onset and seeking care at a drug shop as the initial response. For convenience, drug shops were the most common provider sought by caregivers of children with severe malaria. However, drug shops offered sub-optimal healthcare services compared to public health facilities. Hemoglobin S heterozygotes, alpha thalassemia heterozygosity and homozygosity were associated with protection against severe malaria. Drug shops were a problem, contributing to delay and severe malaria. The role of drug shops in caring for children with malaria needs to be re-evaluated and services at public health facilities strengthened. This study was funded by NIH Fogarty International Center (TW009343 and TW007375) and was supervised by Assoc. Prof. Charles Karamagi, Prof. Anne Katahoire, Grace Ndeezi and Philip J Rosenthal.
NABATANZI Rose (Ms)
Innate immune system recovery after long-term antiretroviral therapy in an African cohort
Dr. NABATANZI Rose studied whether key blood cell populations of HIV infected adults recover completely after at least seven years of treatment with antiretroviral therapy (ART). This research found that despite at least seven years of effective ART, key first line defence cells among HIV-infected individuals were still fewer and produced low chemical mediators of first line defence against invading germs; compared with age-matched healthy HIV uninfected individuals. More emphasis should be put on ways of improving the body’s defence system for individuals on long-term ART to levels comparable to HIV-uninfected individuals, to prevent or delay HIV-associated complications among adults aging with the disease. This study was funded by DELTAS Africa Initiative, the Wellcome Trust and UK government and Alliance for Global Health and Science at University of California, Berkeley, USA; and was supervised by Prof. Damalie Nakanjako, Prof. Moses Joloba, Prof. Stephen Cose and Prof. Sarah Rowland Jones.
NAJJUKA Christine Florence (Ms)
Characterisation of extended spectrum Beta lactamases elaborated in Enterobactereaceae in Uganda
Dr. NAJJUKA Christine Florence investigated the prevalence of Extended Spectrum beta-Lactamases (ESBLs), the factors associated with gastrointestinal carriage, genotypes, transmission dynamics and co-resistance among clients attending outpatient clinics in Kampala, Kayunga and Mpigi Districts. She found predominance of cefotaximase in Kampala and presence of plasmid-mediated AmpC beta-lactamase genes, especially in ceftriaxone-susceptible Escherichia coli. Use of ciprofloxacin, inoculation and routine health follow up were risk factors, while rural residency and visiting lower health centres were protective of carriage of resistant bacteria. Transmission was predominantly by horizontal gene transfer of cefotaximase with at least two non-beta-lactam resistance genes. The findings inform widespread gut colonisation by bacteria resistant to 3rd generation cephalosporins and commonly used non beta-lactam agents, a source for transmission and infection with unpredictable and limited treatment options. This study was funded by Sida-Makerere Bilateral Research Programme and the Carnegie Cooperation of New York, and was supervised by Prof. Moses L. Joloba and Prof. Sabiha Y. Essack.
Creating and institutionalizing supports for evidence-informed decision making, including a rapid response service, in the Burkina Faso health system
Dr. ZIDA Andre’s research focused on decision making in the Burkina Faso health system. His investigation focused on the institutionalization of a policy support unit called rapid response to provide evidence for urgent decision-making. The study showed that the institutionalization of decision support units demands a robust framework and political will. It can be non-linear, and it depends on the leadership of unit managers to implement relevant activities, mobilize funding, and recruit and maintain sufficient human resources. This study developed a clear roadmap for evidence-informed decision-making and policy unit institutionalization. This study was funded by International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the European Union, and was supervised by Prof. Nelson K. Sewankambo, John N. Lavis and Dr. Bocar Kouyate.
Please click the links below to navigate to the PhD Citations for the respective Sessions.
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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