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Africa Regional Networks

Building Centers of Excellence through University Networks: A Consultation with Universities

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation held a workshop in Abuja in November 2009 on university networks. The workshop involved consultation with universities and identified common challenges, including the aging professoriate and the need to replenish faculty. Over the next several years, MacArthur will focus on building disciplinary centers of excellence, integrating the universities into academic networks to strengthen their capacities, graduate training, and research output. In preparation for that workshop, MacArthur put together this table of examples of university networks with a significant presence in Africa Note that this table is based substantially on information in the database, but has been updated and reflects some newer networks as well.

The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (PHEA) is pleased to introduce this extensive database of regional research and training networks. The Africa Regional Networks Database was developed by Mr. Jeffrey C. Fine and Mr. Peter Szyszlo as part of a study commissioned by PHEA on regional networks engaged in research and post-graduate education in Africa. Over 120 networks were surveyed using web-sourced materials, supplemented by telephone and email exchanges. Field visits to West, East and Southern Africa between September 2005 and 2006 validated information concerning selected networks.

Selection for entry in the database required that the network be operational, centered on a discipline or body of knowledge and practice, and engaged in post-graduate education and/or research. The depth and size of the database indicates a new generation of initiatives with the potential impact of promoting new fields of knowledge, new models of instruction with enriched curriculum, and innovations in the organization and financing of research and post-graduate training. The Partnership hopes that the database will facilitate efficient design and implementation of initiatives within and outside Africa and the strengthening of university-centered research and post-graduate training.

The database includes about 20 networks that focus on Africa but which are based outside of Africa, such as Third World Organisation for Women in Science, based in Trieste. A full 41% of the networks listed are based in South Africa, with another 15% in Kenya, although almost all the networks reach across international borders. Coverage varies from a narrow geographic focus to a pan-African or even global reach. Membership composition of networks may include institutions and/or individuals. A significant proportion is based in universities.

Records for individual entries include contact information, including website, principal focus, principal activities, membership composition, geographic coverage, discipline and governance. The date of entry and date of revision are also noted, so users will know the age of the information provided.

The database is searchable online using pull-down menus for four different options: network name, discipline/field, contact person, and country. In addition, users can search using any key words. For those wanting to manipulate the database, it is available to download as a zipped Microsoft Access file or in plain text CSV format.

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© 2021 Partnership for Higher Education in Africa. Last updated: 12 October 2010