Agricultural transformation and the role of African Universities

Thought Pieces RUFORUMAfrica has been described by Mckinsey, as ‘Lions on the move’ to describe the growth in the consumer sector in many of its countries and its tremendous potential. Much has been achieved, as indicated by the remarkable economic growth indexes, albeit from a low starting point. The Continent however, continues to lag behind in several development indices, including rampant hunger and poverty in several parts of the continent. There is need to enhance its development trajectory and improve the livelihoods of its people if the aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063 and indeed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (2030) are to be met.

Various options are being explored by African governments and their partners, local and international. Agriculture, employing on average 70-80% of the population, is seen as key to support the needed inclusive growth that would stimulate economic development. Africa must also harness its demographic dividend (Africa has the youngest population in the World, over 200 million people are aged between 15 and 24, and set to double by 2045) and invest in a science-led development path supported by a skilled private and public workforce.

Fortunately, Africa can build on lessons from especially the Green revolution that was used to transform agrarian economies in Asia and Latin America into leading economies today. There are also lessons from Malaysia, Korea, Japan and other countries where deliberate investment in strengthening their science capacity and human capital development have led to major economic advancement in these countries. The large and increasing talent pool at African universities are an important resource in this effort. This publication seeks to explore the possible role of Universities in the process of supporting transformation of agricultural sector and contributing to inclusive economic growth in Africa. How could African universities contribute to attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Agenda 2063- The Africa We Want? What would be the necessary transformation within the universities themselves to make this happen? And what role could networking approaches play to support university evolution and transformation towards these goals? These are some of the issues that African leaders and institutions and their partners need to reflect on. Indeed they are some of the underlining issues that RUFORUM, a network of 85 African Universities in 35 African countries is grappling with, as it works to enhance the contribution of African universities to the continental development agenda, especially the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Agenda (CAADP) and the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA 2024).

This volume is a collection of invited Thought pieces from various individuals to share their perspectives on some of the issues they see as important for moving Africa forward. The contributions were invited as part of stimulating dialogue on topical issues that the RUFORUM Network and other actors need to consider especially in terms of transforming the agricultural sector in Africa. The articles were to inform the RUFORUM Annual General Meeting of 23-27 October 2017 in Lilongwe, Malawi, and also served to inform the development of the RUFORUM Vision 2030 Strategy. The articles are presented in the order they were received and published, but overall the majority highlight the urgency to strengthen youth engagement in agriculture through agribusiness, needed actions to transform African agriculture sector and the need to galvanize African universities to support the broader continental development agenda. Click here to download the RUFORUM thought Pieces.


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