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On 26 May, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) announced the formation of a new partnership with the Association of African Universities (AAU) “to strengthen African universities’ relationships with local and regional industries”. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) will financially support this work to the tune of CAD 2.2 million. Overall the goal is to link African universities more closely to the private sector and to position them to “better develop the skills and knowledge to meet Africa’s economic needs”.
The project will run over three years (concluding at the end of April 2013) and aims to facilitate the creation of some 27 new university-industry partnerships, benefitting up to 250 AAU member institutions. Participating universities in both Canada and Africa will be selected by an African-Canadian peer review committee based on merit and relevant project selection criteria and guidelines. No specific fields or areas of cooperation have been stipulated, but projects must clearly demonstrate their potential to enable the each African institution involved to improve its contribution to its own country’s national development plan. Any AAU member institution in an African country that is eligible for Canadian assistance may apply, however 50 percent of the projects will be selected from CIDA’s list of 'focus countries' on the continent—Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania.
The AUCC was approached by the AAU to develop this initiative, based on the AAU’s sense that “Canadian universities have successfully pioneered effective linkages with the private sector and other key stakeholders over the past several decades”. The AUCC represents 95 Canadian public and private, not-for profit universities and university-degree level colleges, while the AAU has been since 1967 one of the main forums for consultation, communication, and collaboration among African higher education institutions.