Stellenbosch University
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Forging ties across Africa
Author: Daniel Bugan
Published: 23/05/2024

​​Stellenbosch University (SU) International's Africa Partnership Development portfolio is making great strides in facilitating collaboration and capacity development among institutions on the continent. The portfolio, located in SU International's Centre for Collaboration in Africa (CCA), is led by Norma Derby.

 Partnerships for Africa

Derby's main responsibilities are to manage partnerships with the rest of Africa, facilitate student and staff mobility in Africa, and coordinate SU events with an African focus. “We manage partnerships by supporting faculties with new and renewable agreements, and undertaking and receiving delegation visits," she explains. The portfolio is also represented in the SU International working group for agreement development to keep abreast of developments and aligned with SU's partnership goals.

“Student and staff mobility, in turn, ensures capacity-building and exposure," Derby says. This normally takes the form of capacity development for African master's and doctoral students. “We also host events to commemorate Africa Day (25 May) and Africa University Day (12 November) every year. These are used as a platform for emphasising Pan-Africanism," she adds.

A snapshot of recent and upcoming work

Some of the more recent interventions that the portfolio has facilitated include:

  • a delegation visit from the University of Luanda (Angola) and the subsequent drafting of an agreement between the two institutions' vice-chancellors to be finalised in June 2024;
  • two visits from the Institute of Finance Management in Tanzania, followed by the signing of a letter of intent in March 2024;
  • a delegation visit from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya in 2023, and a reciprocal visit by SU shortly thereafter; and
  • hosting students from Institut National Polytechnique (INPHB), Cote D'Ivoire, for the Intensive English Language programme in 2023.

The months ahead will see:

  • further collaborations to host students from INPHB and the University of Luanda for the Intensive English Language programme in June and July 2024;
  • SU staff members attending a conference hosted by the University of Luanda;
  • bilateral partners from Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and Ghana visiting SU to discuss their potential inclusion in the list of Semester Abroad programmes that SU students can choose from; and
  • collaboration with Tanzania's Institute of Finance Management to design a staff mobility programme for that country's government officials.​

Driving Africa's rise as key global stakeholder

Derby says all interventions aim to foster Pan-African collaboration, promote the academic expertise of junior scholars across the continent, and develop a strong network of African academics. “This will contribute to a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce and drive Africa's rise as a key global stakeholder."

Other initiatives in the CCA that facilitate bilateral collaboration with partners in Africa include the Africa Collaboration Grant and the Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme. The former makes available grants for research visits, conference participation, the hosting of senior visiting scholars, and support for postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows. Between 2010 and 2024 a total number of grants awarded is 280.The latter fosters student and staff mobility across Africa by providing scholarship opportunities for postgraduates and development programmes for staff.