Solidifying partnerships in Africa – UFH visits Angola
In its journey to becoming a distinctive African University that advances excellence and innovation in research, teaching, learning, administration and social engagement, the University of Fort Hare (UFH) values the role of impactful partnerships.
Recently, a UFH delegation led by the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sakhela Buhlungu visited Angola. The visit resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between UFH and the University of Rainha Njinga Mbande (URNM) that reinforces a partnership that was initiated by the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) three years ago.
The Fort Hare delegation comprised the VC (Prof Buhlungu), Dr Nthabi Taole-Mjimba (Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Partnerships, and Innovation), and Prof Uchechukwu Nwodo (Lead Scientist).
According to Prof Nwodo, the collaboration will result in a series of high-level engagements between UFH, South Africa, URNM and Angola, on research, innovation, and human capital development.
The partnership began in 2021 when the DSI mediated a meeting between UFH and URNM.
“The collaboration blossomed between a few researchers from UFH and URNM over the past three years with substantial accomplishments stemming from the joint action plan entered by the researchers from both universities,” said Prof Nwodo.
The UFH delegation were welcomed by Prof Eduardo Ekundi (Rector and Principal), Prof Osvaldo Pelinganga (Vice Rector, Academic Affairs), Prof Bettencourt Munanga (Vice Rector, Research and Administration), and Prof Guilherme Pereira (Director of the Agrofood Technology Institute), Gabriel António Simoli (General Secretary) and the heads of all other structures and units.
The delegates from both parties gave in-depth presentations on their strategic goals, the processes of how research, teaching and learning is conducted and the importance of this collaboration.
“The engagement with URNM is the first with a Lusophone African country for UFH. It is deliberate to diversify from UFH's traditional partners in the African continent, which are mainly the Anglophone African countries,” said Prof Buhlungu.
Also joining the visit albeit, in a pre-recorded video presentation was Ms Sikhonzile Sikhosana, the Deputy Director of Africa Bilateral Cooperation at DSI. She highlighted the various initiatives of DSI and their engagements with the African continent through higher education and training.
She narrowed her presentation to the series of engagements between DSI and the sister agency in Angola which has the support of the ministers of the departments in South Africa and Angola.
“The relevance of the UFH and URNM collaborations to the DSI decadal plan was clearly highlighted in her presentation,” Prof Nwodo underscored.
She capped her presentation with an overview of the series of engagements between UFH and URNM from 2021 to date and indicated that “the collaboration serves as a flagship cooperation between South Africa and the Lusophone African country.”
Some of the milestones of the collaboration are a UFH research team visit to URNM in 2021 where Prof Nwodo gave a guest lecture, research activities were conducted, and students were trained. The partnership also resulted in the attraction of an EU grant for the establishment of a specialist programme which was launched during the visit.
The partnership also saw a delegation from URNM visiting UFH in July this year. The delegation was led by the Rector and Principal of URNM and the Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs and other top management members.
In the MOU, the institutions agreed to collaborate both within existing programmes and new ones, depending on the availability of funding, towards the implementation of the following activities, in accordance with their respective rules and regulations:
• Joint Fellowship Programme, supporting South-South Cooperation.
• Training Workshops and Meetings.
• Cooperation on common areas of joint scientific interest and expertise.
• Community outreach and education.
The parties also pledged to encourage cooperation in any discipline and programme offered at either university, as well as further areas of cooperation which will promote the objectives of the partnership.
To follow, is an engagement with UFH Deputy Deans of all six faculties to maximise on the opportunities presented by the visit, said Prof Nwodo.