A team of African university professors under the umbrella of “Regional University Forum” (RUFORUM) has expressed the need for collaboration among African universities to improve studies and research in science and agriculture to meet the 2063 African Union Development Agenda.
Some members of the team who spoke with this newspaper said Africa’s development needs will only be fulfilled through Africans, and one way to enhance development is to invest in science and technology and agriculture.
Dr. Moses Osiru, a member of the delegation, said RUFORUM is currently working with 66 universities in Africa and partnering with others in Europe, the United States and Japan, and is in the process of including Australia and China.
Mr. Osiru said collaboration with universities will enhance knowledge sharing and mobilization of resources to foster programs that RUFORUM is embarking on for Africa.
The RUFORUM delegation that visited Liberia comprised of Professor Brice Sinsin, Rector of the University of d’Abomey Calavi, Republic of Benin; Prof. Teresa Akenga, Vice Chancellor, University of Eldoret, Kenya; Prof. John Akec Apuruot, Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba, South Sudan; and Dr. Loveness Kaunda, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Mzuzu University, Malawi.
Others were Prof. Amadou Tidiane Guiro, Rector, Universitè SineSaloum, Elhadj Ibrahima NIASS, Senegal; Prof. Mary J.N. Okwakol, Vice Chancellor, Busitema University, Uganda; Dr. Mary Shawa, member of RUFORUM Finance & Administration Committee and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Public Works, Malawi; Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary, RUFORUM, Uganda; Dr. Moses Osiru, Deputy Executive Secretary, RUFORUM; and Ms. Joan Apio, Communications Officer of RUFORUM.
The delegation met President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Ministers of Education and Commerce, and visited the University of Liberia, Cuttington University and the Booker Washington Institute (BWI).
“It is important to include Liberia in RUFORUM because of the good work the President of this country has done, and the second aspect is that the country is progressing and has a good quantity of natural resources, which we believe will be a good breeding ground for the work of RUFORUM.
“Thirdly we believe in the President of Liberia, and if we can make her our role model to be an ambassador for RUFORUM to help other African leaders educate Africa, we will be heading in the right direction,” Dr. Mary Shawa said.
Prof. John Apuruot of South Sudan said they have been following President Sirleaf’s works and see her as their role model. He also said it is important to include Liberia in RUFORUM because Liberia has a significant record of good governance and progress.
The objective of RUFORUM, according to Prof. Ekwamu, is to contribute to African Union’s Development Agenda of 2063 and to work to achieve the sustainable goals of the continent. He said RUFORUM’s approach to meeting these goals is to work with African universities in the areas of research and agriculture.
He said without food security, it is difficult for any development agenda to be achieved.
Africa is a continent with a huge population and natural resources, but lags behind in infrastructural and human development. Identifying the cause, Prof. Ekwamu attributed it to bad governance and use of power by leaders against the people to enrich themselves.
In their meeting with President Sirleaf, the organization in a release said they recommended the establishment of postgraduate programs to strengthen the capacity of university staff for knowledge generation and to support agricultural transformation in the country.
Furthermore, it recommended that universities explore the possibilities of links to other African universities through RUFORUM to provide a rapid response to the current staff skills gaps in research and training institutions and to rebuild national research capacity. The delegation said that BWI has all the basics in place with a core focus on community empowerment, but will require a long-term strategy to maintain the institution’s focus, as well as mechanisms to attract a wider pool of female students.