A framework for African-German cooperation in education and research / Johanna Wanka: "Building together the knowledge society in Africa"
Shared research interests and collaborative networking between African and German scientists are at the very heart of the “Africa Strategy” of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and today Germany's Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka and Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union Martial De-Paul Ikounga approved the Strategy as a framework for a sustainable cooperation between Africa and Germany.
Combining applied and policy-oriented research as well as capacity building, BMBF and its African partners will contribute to the building of an African knowledge society. “In Africa we need a strong research community to advice policy-makers, offer evidence-based solutions and thus contribute shaping the future of the continent” said Johanna Wanka, Minister for Education and Research.
The German Africa Strategy covers a time period of five years and brings into focus the goals and focal points of the cooperation as well as the tools to be used. A catalogue detailing 30 individual measures introduces clearly defined activities for implementation.
The origins of the cooperation between the BMBF and African partners stretch back into the 1970s and since this time more than 1000 projects have been carried out in the fields of education and research. The last decade in particular has been marked by a significant increase in the number of cooperation projects taking place and in their financial scope.
For example, 60% of the cooperation projects have taken place in the last ten years while BMBF funding specific to Africa increased from €11.9 million in 2005 to €50.8 million in 2013.
“Positive political developments in Africa have been accompanied by an increased interest among African partners in cooperating with Germany in science and research” said Martial Ikounga, Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology at the African Union, “additionally, at the continental level, Africa has well positioned itself through its continental strategy on science, technology and innovation (STISA-2024) that addresses both global and continental challenges, the TVET Strategy and the Agenda 2063”.
He concluded by saying: ‘‘The African Strategy for Education and Research aims at providing the Germany-Africa cooperation with a decision and implementation strategic framework, which respects the interests of both partners’’.
Cooperation in research and education, particularly in the areas of mutual benefit and shared interest is therefore essential, and is further facilitated by the intrinsic link between the German Africa Strategy and the AU continental frameworks.
These factors further shared interests in research on a continuous basis and raise the demand for collaboration. These shared interests form the basis for the research focal pillars of the German Africa Strategy and are oriented towards global challenges that seek to address issues of the environment, health, food security and sustainable resource management/raw materials. In the area of education it is university post-graduate education and training that take centre stage.
Shared research goals are at the core of the strategy and developing capacity in African countries is also a key accompanying element. In the latter respect, a particular focus is the development of centres of excellence in science and research in African countries and the advancement of young talent. Networks that offer high-quality cooperation opportunities are automatically established around scientific centres of excellence like these. Johanna Wanka comments that "Africa is the continent of opportunities – particularly when it comes to education and research".
Furthermore, "investing in these scientific hubs means strengthening potential and building bridges for sustainable cooperation”. Plans are also in place to further strengthen the interconnections between science and research on the one hand and the economy on the other.
In the area of education it is university post-graduate education and training that take centre stage. The German Africa Strategy for Education and Research due to be published today therefore sets out the strategic arrangement of the cooperation based on these shared interests. It represents a conspicuous framework that both German and African parties can use as an orientation tool.
The key content of the German Africa Strategy was developed jointly in cooperation with the BMBF's German and African partners, with the final work being carried out during the Africa Days on 16-18 March 2014.
More information on the German Strategy for Cooperation in Education and Research with Africa can be found under
The German Africa Strategy in German, French and English: http://www.bmbf.de/pub/Afrika-Strategie_2014-2018.pdf
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