A delegation from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) Secretariat in Uganda led by the Executive Secretary, Professor Adipala Ekwamu, has paid a courtesy call to the Minister of State in-charge of Education, Prof. Kojo Yankah. The visit was to formally brief the Minister about the upcoming Annual General Meeting(AGM) of RUFORUM to be held at the University of Cape Coast from 2nd to 6th December.
Appreciation to Government of Ghana
Prof. Ekwamu thanked the Government of Ghana for the support and willingness to be part of the AGM. He informed the Minister that RUFORUM was a consortium of 114 African universities operating within 38 countries spanning the African continent. He noted that the Secretariat was hosted by Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.
Prof. Ekwamu explained that the organisation’s mandate was to oversee graduate training and networks of specialisation in the countries and universities where it works. “We strongly believe in fostering innovative and responsive research; high performing and proactive graduates; a dynamic platform for university networking; advocacy for agricultural higher education; and university transformation for relevance” he noted. He indicated that it was important to promote and strengthen South-South cooperation to enable African Universities mobilise resources and expertise to transform Higher Education on the continent.
Touching on the AGM, the Executive Secretary explained that it was a gathering of universities, stakeholders and partners to share lessons and best practices to strengthen the Higher Education landscape in Africa. He noted that the AGM which was the first to be held in West Africa coincides with RUFORUM’s 15th anniversary and therefore, it served as an opportunity to consolidate the network’s achievements, reflect and learn from activities of the past and work towards its 2030 vision.
The Executive Secretary of RUFORUM mentioned several activities to be held as part of the AGM in Ghana some of which include a public dialogue by renowned Pan Africanist and legal practitioner, Prof. PLO Lumumba, official opening by the President of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, recognition of young scientists, special sessions for Vice-Chancellors , Principals, Deans and Women Vice-Chancellors.
Others are Scientific Data Management Training for PhD students and Emerging Scientists, Proposal Development, Scientific Writing and Presentation Training for Master Students, Technocrats Round Dialogue among others.
RUFORUM is one of Africa's Success Stories
Responding to Prof. Yankah expressed appreciation to the team for the visit and indicated that RUFORUM was one of the success stories for Africans. He commended the network for the commitment to transform higher education on the continent, “I am particularly happy that you are not only focusing on Agriculture but also brining other disciplines on board for holistic development of higher education in Africa,” he noted.
Prof. Yankah noted that the Government of Ghana was proud to be associated with the AGM and indicated that “In spite of constraints in the economies of African countries, they are ready to provide financial and logistical support for such laudable initiatives that have far-reaching impact in developing human capacity, technology, and innovation”.
The Minister reiterated the call for South-South collaborations among universities on the continent to support economic growth, ensure food security and the provision of basic needs of all Africans. Prof. Yankah was happy that Centres of Excellence had been created in some universities across the African continent. “With the establishment of the African Centres of Excellence, I am confident there is hope that our future generation will change the narrative and provide avenues of better standards of living to Africans,” he noted.
Capacity Building for University Administrators
One important aspect of Higher Education he called on the AGM to consider was capacity building for University Administrators which according to him has been neglected for quite a long time. “Our administrators play equally important roles however, our concentration has always been on the academics. We need to build their capacities and expose them to best practices in University Administration so that they can complement the work we do” he implored.
The Chairman of the Local Organising Committee(LOC), Prof. Livingstone K. Sam-Amoah, expressed gratitude to the government for its tremendous support to the LOC. He also commended RUFORUM for selecting UCC for the AGM and indicated that "The success of this conference will open up other institutions outside Accra for such international programmes". He assured the Minister that the LOC had put in place all the necessary preparations for a successful programme.
Other members of the team from the RUFORUM Secretariat were Dr. Anthony Egesu, Dr. Alice Mwertwa. Also present were Prof. L. K. Sam-Amoah, Prof. Elvis Asare-Bediako and Mrs. Mildred Asmah of the Local Organising Committee from UCC.