Why Higher Education Matters?

Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, Executive Secretary

There is renewed focus on the role of higher education in catalysing the development of African economies to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals within the broader visionary context of the Africa Union’s Agenda 2063, The “Africa We Want”. The Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024) is a medium term framework for implementing Agenda 2063 and the Science Agenda for Agriculture articulates the strategies required to build and strengthen the capacities required to put science, technology and innovations to work for agriculture in Africa.


The Agenda 2063 recognises that transformation of agriculture in Africa will require African professionals of the highest quality working across the relevant scientific disciplines and with the private and public sectors. That universities in Africa have unchallenged potential to produce the talent required to support capacity building, knowledge generation and research and building an enabling environment for Africa’s transformation is not questioned.  However, they need to do it better and in closer collaboration along both the education and agrifood value chains. It has long been recognised that for this to happen, universities in Africa need to transform and cease to be old fashioned “Ivory Towers” with a complete disconnect from the societal and industry needs.  How to achieve this has been the issue.

RUFORUM is harnessing science, technology and innovation to enhance agricultural led development. Through a consultative process, RUFORUM facilitated the development of a flexible implementation plan for the STISA-Priority 1- Eradicating Hunger and Achieving Food and Nutrition Security in Africa. The plan provides a framework for harnessing university capacity and places universities in a central role of ensuring that the continental aspirations for inclusive growth, sustainable development and social integration are achieved.  This invariably requires enhancing technological capacities for realising Africa’s transformative agenda through building an enabling environment for innovation, increasing support for research and development, and ensuring optimal utilisation of space and geospatial technologies. African universities, in particular, are core to this objective, but they have not yet played their role in this development process. Universities in Africa can help to significantly improve productivity, help develop home-grown expertise, enhance the analysis of African problems, strengthen domestic institutions, serve as a model environment for the practice of good science, and enable African academics to play a greater role in the global community of scholars.

The RUFORUM 13th Annual General Meeting being held here in Lilongwe, Malawi, brings together key higher education stakeholders.  They are gathered to review university strategies to stimulate the development of innovations systems in the agricultural sector, and consider how best to advance Science, Technology and Innovations as the springboard for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and ultimately, our Agenda 2063- The Africa We Want.  As part of this Annual General Meeting we have had pre-events that brought together experts, private sector players, government officials and development partners to discuss university roles in transforming African agriculture, and to identify potential catalytic roles for RUFORUM. Today we share with you the outcome of our RUFORUM visioning process. This RUFORUM Vision 2030 aims to achieve   “Vibrant transformative universities catalysing sustainable inclusive agricultural development to feed and create prosperity for Africa”.  Our Vision 2030 Strategy puts demands on African universities to strengthen their capacity to train the next generation of African professionals to champion change, train entrepreneurs and generate innovations to support transformation and inclusive growth in the continent.  The Universities urgently need to think and do things differently. They need to commit to sharing their knowledge, resources and skills with the public and learn from the expertise and insight of the different communities with whom they engage.

We indeed hope that each of you will provide input to this process and empower universities to play their rightful and previously unfulfilled role in agricultural led development in Africa. Click here to download the AGM 2017 digest.

This is our fourth issue in a series of articles we are releasing as part of our RUFORUM AGM Digests. You can get more details about the meeting at http://www.ruforum.org/AGM2017/ and more information about RUFORUM at www.ruforum.org. You many also join us online using Social Media for real time updates. Our Official hashtag is #Visioning2030


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