Increasingly, scholars and donors concerned with international development are focusing on Africa. From a continental perspective, Africa presents the pivotal development challenge of our time. When measured against income and human-development indicators, most African countries rank at or near the bottom in world-wide tallies. At the same time, the African Union’s New Partnership for Africa’s Development has inspired renewed commitment among many African leaders to sustainable development efforts. Serious interest in investing in Africa is finally emerging within the private business sector. Foundations are supporting an astonishing array of major development initiatives on the continent. The article explores the role of higher-education institutions in the emerging African development thrust. The focus is on prospects for enriching collaborative partnerships involving one or more U.S. and Sub-Saharan African tertiary-education institutions. Although such partnerships have a long history of developing human capacity on the continent, many have withered or died in recent decades as donors shifted attention to basic education and other sectors in the wake of World Bank reports that cast doubt on the value of university education in African development. More recent studies have demonstrated that important returns to national economies in Africa are indeed associated with higher-education investments. In the face of a growing human-capital crisis in Africa, we are concerned with identifying potential avenues for increasing the resources available for African research and development projects undertaken through new and strengthened higher-education partnerships (HEPs). We explore three strategic dimensions of building support for Africa-U.S. higher-education partnerships. First, we consider HEPs as models for addressing development needs, documenting successful case studies of past and present collaboration. This discussion centers on agriculture because agriculture accounts for at least 40 percent of the GDP of most African economies and employs 70 percent of the workforce. The cases presented will draw upon the experience of publicly-supported CRSPs (Collaborative Research Support Programs), a successful program that focuses on development problems and simultaneously builds human and institutional capacity. Second, we examine the informational infrastructure needed to facilitate linkages, collaborative initiatives, and policy enhancements through the development of complementary databases of university overseas research and development partnerships and opportunities. NASULGC’s current International Development Project Database initiative and the Partnership to Cut Hunger & Poverty in Africa’s Landscape Review are featured in this discussion. We conclude with recommendations on ways to enhance the research and development collaboration of U.S. and African higher-education institutions by increasing the available resource base. The concluding discussion focuses on the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
|Keywords:||Africa, Higher Education, Partnerships, International Development, Tertiary Education|
Faculty Fellow for International Development, International, University of Montana, Missoula, USA
Associate Vice President, International Development, International, University of California, Davis, USA
Congressional Hunger Fellow, Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative, Washington, DC, USA
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