Our Work

Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative

In July of 2007 a number of groups based in the United States and Africa came together to consider what could be done to assist in strengthening African higher education’s capacity to educate and solve problems relevant to national and regional development. These meetings resulted in an initiative to strengthen the capacity of African higher education through partnerships between African and U.S. higher education institutions, over a sustained period for mutual benefit.

The principal goal of the Initiative was to facilitate deeper and more effective partnerships between African and U.S. institutions of higher education with a view to contributing more effectively to key priority development areas such as science and technology; agriculture, environment and natural resources; engineering; business, management and economics; health, and education and teacher training.
In pursuit of this goal the Initiative aimed to:

  1. Raise the level of investment in long-term institutional partnerships between African and US institutions and increase awareness of the important role higher education institutions can play in national and regional development.
  2. Increase the effectiveness of investment in higher education partnerships by generating and disseminating knowledge about best practices and lessons learned in capacity building partnerships and channeling investments towards a coherent, African-led, long-term vision.

The Initiative worked towards these goals in the following ways:

  • Advocacy and Outreach – Strong and consistent advocacy for increased U.S. investment in African higher education has been lacking in recent decades. The Initiative is working to promote and coordinate efforts by the U.S. higher education community and other key stakeholders to advocate for greater support for long-term human and institutional capacity building in Africa, particularly through partnerships between African and U.S. higher education institutions. This advocacy work continues through the International Advocacy Coordinating Committee.
  • Learning and Networking – In order to lead a strong advocacy effort and facilitate effective institutional collaboration, it is critical to connect and coordinate with institutions and networks in Africa and the U.S. that are engaged in African higher education capacity building and to keep current with issues, priorities and knowledge related to African higher education. There is also a critical need to monitor and evaluate higher education partnerships to identify not only what works but why it works in order to create an evidence-based approach to higher education capacity development. To this end, the Initiative established the Knowledge Center on Higher Education for African Development.
  • Partnership development – In FY 2010, APLU worked with Congress to secure an appropriation of $15 million for partnerships between African and U.S. institutions of higher education under the banner of the Africa-US Higher Education Initiative. The appropriation funded eleven U.S. Universities to work with counterparts in Africa on building strengthening the capacity of African higher education human and institutional capacity. Nine of these partnerships are still being supported with USAID funding although long-term support from the Agency is uncertain.

In July of 2007 the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U), the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa, and the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) in partnership with Higher Education for Development (HED), and the American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) came together to form an initiative to strengthen African higher education capacity in science and technology for development in partnership with U.S. institutions of higher education. From the beginning, a number of other partners have been involved in shaping what is now called the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative and support for the Initiative continues to grow. During the short time the Initiative partners have been working together, significant progress has been made in moving towards a concrete plan of action. The Initiative has received enthusiastic responses and counsel from African and U.S. leaders in higher education, development organizations and members of the African diplomatic corps. Recent consultations with African university leaders have also shown a positive and promising reception of the Initiative’s goals and vision.

When the Initiative was first established, an Advisory Board of eminent African and US higher education leaders informed the strategy and framework for our efforts. The Advisory Board was co-chaired by Silas Lwakabamba, then President of the National University of Rwanda, and David Skorton, then President of Cornell University. Below is a complete list of Advisory Board members who supported the Initiative from 2007-2010.

Silas Lwakabamba, Rector, National University of Rwanda, CO-CHAIR
David Skorton, President, Cornell University, CO-CHAIR
George Afeti, Secretary General, Commonwealth Association of Polytechnics in Africa (CAPA)
J. Brian Atwood, Former USAID Administrator, Dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Gretchen Bataille, President, University of North Texas
Codou Diaw, Secretary General, Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWA)
Turner T. Isoun, Former Minister of Science & Technology, Nigeria; Member of the Exec. Committee, African Academy of Sciences
Monty Jones, Executive Secretary, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)
Charles McCormack, President and CEO, Save the Children
Mora McLean, President, Africa-America Institute
Richard Mkandawire, Head, Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP)
Goolam Mohamedbhai, Secretary General, Association of African Universities
Steve Moseley, President and CEO, Academy for Educational Development
Olive Mugenda, Vice Chancellor, Kenyatta University
Frank Pogue, President, Grambling State University
Jeff Rowe, Vice President, Biotech Affairs, Pioneer Hi-Bred International
James Wagner, President, Emory University
Judi Wakhunga, Executive Director, African Centre for Technology Studies
Carolyn Williams, President, Bronx Community College
Aissetou Yaye, Executive Secretary, African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE)

APLU wishes to acknowledge several funders whose generous support helped establish and support the early development of the Africa-US Higher Education Initiative:

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The Kellogg Foundation

Documents coming soon!