African higher education actors gathered in Pretoria, South Africa from 28th to 29th September 2017 to discuss a strategy for the implementation of the Regional Program for Strengthening Higher Agricultural Education in Africa (SHAEA) project and to lay out the practical steps necessary for its implementation, including activities at the regional level. The two-day consultative meeting was jointly convened by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), a network of 66 African universities and the South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF) and included representatives from the World Bank, African Union Commission (AUC), Inter University Council of East Africa (IUCEA), South Africa’s Agriculture Research Council (ARC), NUFFIC NESO South Africa, and Independent consultants in the area of higher education in Africa and African universities.
The SHAEA programme emerged from a meeting of representatives of the World Bank, African universities, Land Grant universities, and US Historically Black Universities organised by the World Bank Africa Vice Presidency in Washington DC in April 2017. Follow-up meetings and discussions were held with the World Bank including the first higher education partners’ consultation meeting in Gaborone in July 2017 and the 2017 Caucus of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development also held in Gaborone, Botswana 3-4th August 2017, which all endorsed the initiative. A Concept Note was developed and reviewed by the actors. Subsequently meetings have been held with African Ministries of Higher Education to seek their buy-in and commit to a loan from the World Bank IDA funding. This follow up meeting held in Pretoria was convened to refine the programmatic areas of the proposed project and map-out next steps for finalising the programme design. Selection of and role of anchor universities, design and functionality of Research Chairs, design and operationalization of the Academic Mobility Programme, design of university capacity development programme, and the coordination and management of the Programme were the key issues discussed.
Key Highlights of the meeting included a strong support of key partners present, namely, African Union Commission, NUFFIC NESO, and National Research Foundation (NRF); a clear definition of anchor universities in terms of their mandate, and selection criteria so as to enable them and other actors drive agricultural transformation in the continent and contribute to achieving the vision of the African Agenda 2063.