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African Research Universities Alliance launched–strengthening the continent’s global research recognition

The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) has officially been launched this month at an international conference at the University of Accra, Ghana in the presence of the country’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The Alliance of African research-intensive universities is a response to shared challenges of higher education institutions, and at its core supports research excellence across the continent in order to strengthen global recognition for African science endeavours.

Established since 2015, the partnership comprises 16 African universities and is governed by the Vice Chancellors of member institutions.  ARUA now is to foster strategic collaboration, knowledge exchange, pool scarce resources across borders, build concerted training programmes and curricula, and address low participation rates in tertiary education. Importantly, it will contribute to bridging a gap in policy and research, reinforcing scientific progress as a key tool for growth and prosperity in the continent.  While a majority of research output in the continent originates from South Africa, and overall makes a rather negligible contribution by global standards (1% of global research output), the network will tackle governmental apathy for placing scientific excellence on the agenda.

Making African research excellence a priority by supporting the brightest minds is to turn economic and societal challenges into opportunities and address an emerging threat of brain drain in the continent by attracting and retaining future generations into scientific careers. Key research themes addressed in the natural sciences include climate change, food security, nanotechnology, energy and water, where the social sciences / humanities will tackle issues such as mobility and migration, unemployment/skills development, good governance and urbanisation. 

The ARUA initiative recognises in its mandate the value and competitive capacities of international examples as the Russel Group, and the fact that partnerships are increasingly essential for institutions across the world.  By providing the necessary networking structures for universities to leverage their resources for greater impact and complement endowments, this initiative seeks to place a pan-African response on the map of world class university alliances. 

African Research University Alliance