We’ve much to learn from Indian varsities: African official

By Francis Kokutse, IANS,

Accra (Ghana) : Collaboration between Indian and African universities is set to increase in the coming years, said an official who added that “African institutions have so much to learn from India”.

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“University of Ghana has already developed a relationship with a number of Indian universities and there are others across the continent that are looking at similar possibilities,” Association of African Universities general secretary Etienne Ehouan Ehile told IANS in the Ghanaian capital.

Ehile, who took over as general secretary of the association of African universities in September last, said cooperation between universities in Africa and India would be part of the Africa Union-Indian Partnership Initiative.

“This year, we were invited by our counterparts in India. Though we were not able to honour the invitation, we believe that the foundation for collaboration has been laid,” he said.

“Across the continent, there are several online training projects that Indian universities are offering. We believe that African institutions have so much to learn from India, because we share common problems,” Ehile said.

A joint declaration was signed two years ago at the India-Africa Science and Technology Ministers’ meeting in New Delhi to fully implement cooperation in science and technology through capacity building and improving policies to boost education in the two sectors.

It was also agreed to assist the Pan Africa University to develop the Institute of Earth and Life Sciences at the University of Ibadan in Nigeria.

The declaration aimed to pave the way for greater “interactions between Indian and African researchers through such interventions like brain-storming meetings, workshops, exchange visits, joint Research and Development projects”.

India, in that declaration, expressed commitment to extend technical assistance for strengthening of institutions engaged in research and development activities which have regional impact. The mode of support was to be in the form of developing institutional or academic linkages through African institutions.

Technological know-how for capacity building, mobility of scientific and technical personnel, and cooperation in strengthening of selected African regional institutions were all part of India’s commitment, as part of that joint declaration, beginning with the three pilot institutes identified by the African Union Permanent Representative Committee (AUPRC) by 2015.

The three institutions are: Institute Pasteur in Tunis, Tunisia (Health sciences and Bio-informatics), Institute of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, Benin, (Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation for Climate Change), School of Science and Technology of Masuku, Gabon (Development of Local Materials; Chemistry of Natural Materials and Energy Research).

The meeting also instituted the C.V. Raman Fellowship for African Researchers to work in Indian research and development laboratories and academic institutions. It was also agreed to ensure an effective outreach of the fellowship scheme in African countries.

Considering the need to support talent for research among African youth, it was agreed that a new component, a research internship programme under the C.V. Raman Fellowship, would be added to encourage African students pursuing Masters and PhD degrees in science & technology to undertake internships in Indian laboratories and academic institutions.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected])