Report on the WAI - CEDIR Workshop on Higher Education and Research Policy for Regional Integration in West Africa and beyond

29th - 30th September, 2014 – UNI-CV, Praia, Cabo Verde

HEThe workshop on Higher Education and Research Policy for Regional Integration in West Africa and beyond was held on 29th -30th September, 2014, in Praia, Cabo Verde, in the auditorium of the Palmarejo Campus of the University of Cabo Verde (UNICV). The participants included experts with diverse experiences in higher education and regional integration from Africa, America and Europe.

Jointly sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and WAI, the brainstorming workshop provided a platform for researchers and practitioners to present and discuss recent innovations, trends, experiences and concerns on the nexus between higher education, research policy and regional integration. The workshop enabled Mr. Charles Edward Minega, who is currently working on a proposal to support a long-term bilateral collaboration between WAI and CEDIR, to identify areas of research interest related to the theme under consideration.

Remarkably, the workshop was characterized by extensive use of technology for presentations and debates, realized through video link (Skype and Polycom). This brought into sharp focus the imperative to promote the use of innovative solutions and technology to advance academic cooperation and partnership for research in Africa

Experts who attended the workshop include:

  • Professor Dr. Julio Cesar de Carvalho, University of Phoenix, USA,
  • Ms. Maria de Fatima Fortes, Lecturer, School of Governance, University of Cabo Verde, and Coordinator, ZEI WAI Master in African Regional Integration, at WAI.
  • Mrs. Sally Brammer, Coordinator, ZEI WAI Master in African Regional Integration, Bonn, Germany

Experts who could not make it to the venue but made their presentations via video link include:

  • Professor Dr. Djénéba Traoré, Director General of WAI, Cabo Verde
  • Dr. William Baah Boateng, University of Ghana (Accra, Ghana),
  • Mr. Mustapha Sadni Jallab, Head of the WTO Chairs at the Institute for Training and Technical Cooperation (ITTC), World Trade Organisation, (Geneva, Switzerland).
  • Professor Dr. Herbert Robinson, Head of Programme, Training and Capacity Building, UNIDEP Dakar (Senegal),
  • Professor Dr. Firmin Mbala, Higher Education Support Programme Officer, Open Society Initiative for West Africa, OSIWA, Dakar (Senegal).
  • Mr. Arun Sharma, AIMS, Manager of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), Next Einstein Initiative (NEI), Berlin (Germany).
  • Dr. Andreas Blom, Education Economist and Team Leader, World Bank, African Centres of Excellence Project (ACE), Washington DC. (USA)

HE1Among the participants were: a representative of the European Union Delegation in Cabo Verde, Ms. Ana Sofia Silva, the representative of the National Commission for UNESCO, Mr. José António Pinas and a delegation of academics from Jean Piaget University, led by the former Rector, Prof. Dr. Jorge Souza Brito, as well as Professors and Lecturers of the University of Cabo Verde, Others present were, Mr. Daniel Yeboah, Mr. Ablam Benjamin Akoutou, both WAI-ZEI Project Coordinator and WAI members of staff. Professor Dr. Kebede Kassa Tsegaye, University of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Expert at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), who could not arrive in time for the workshop, made his presentations to a limited group of experts and WAI staff.

In her opening speech, Professor Dr. Judite Medina do Nascimento, Rector of the University of Cabo Verde (UNICV), expressed her deep gratitude for the organization of the event at UNICV and challenged the experts to come out with innovative measures to enhance synergies between various universities in West Africa and to support the regional integration process, which has been defined as a key pillar for the African economic development. She also pledged her full commitment to supporting the outcome of the workshop and the implementation of recommendations towards practical solutions based on a South-South Academic cooperation, and for the proposed master programme on African Regional Integration at UNICV.

The Director General of the West Africa Institute (WAI), Professor Dr. Djénéba Traoré welcomed the participants to the workshop, explaining that her  absence was due to an important invitation from  the UEMOA Commission in Burkina Faso related to the future of Higher Education. She expressed her confidence that the workshop would address pertinent issues related to higher education, research policy and regional integration and come out with concrete proposals to enhance academic cooperation towards an effective regional integration process in West Africa.

The presentations and discussions that followed focused on four main thematic areas including the “contextual background of the regional integration process in West Africa” and the need to have the relevant “key facts and accurate data on higher education and regional integration;” national and regional experiences in engaging higher education institutions in regional integration policy making and innovative ways of collaborating with stakeholders to enhance policy-making at national level; best practices for “mainstreaming regional integration in academic programmes in West Africa universities; and mechanisms for leveraging regional integration and development through higher education, research, innovation, science and technology.

HE2There was also a special presentation on the ECOWAS Policy Framework on Science, Technology and Innovation (ECOPOST) and the related ECOWAS Strategic Action Plan (2013 – 2017), delivered by Prof. Dr. Djénéba Traoré, the Director General of WAI. The quoted documents underline the urgent necessity for West African States to allocate additional financial resources to Higher Education in order to improve the STI (Science, Technology and Innovation) domains and to provide a curriculum responding to the demands of the job market.

At the end of the two-day workshop, participants agreed on five main themes for scientific research to support the harmonization of higher education policies in West Africa. These included: regional collaborative academic networking; higher education as a tool for resolving the social, cultural and scientific challenges arising from the regional integration process in West Africa; mainstreaming regional integration in tertiary institutions in West Africa; using higher education and research policy for Knowledge Management, Innovation and Technology to promote regional integration process in West Africa and creating synergies among universities to assist West African countries to better integrate into the growing world knowledge-based economy.

 

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