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What is the Partnership?

Focal Areas

Partnership Core Statement

Frequently Asked Questions

Grantmaking and Grants Database



African Research Online

African Educational Resources


Focal Areas and Grantmaking Through 2021


Between 2000 and December 2004 the founding four Partnership foundations contributed an aggregate of a little more than $150 million toward higher education development in six countries -- Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda -- and on a regional or Africa-wide basis.  In 2005 the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation joined the Partnership, and Kenya was added as a seventh focus country.  In September 2005, when the Partnership was re-launched, the presidents of the six foundations pledged $200 million more during the next five years.

The Partnership makes its grants through two funding vehicles: Joint Partnership Initiatives, and Individual Foundation Grantmaking. Each Partnership member works directly with individual grantees in the seven focus countries according to the foundation's mission, priorities, and geographic mandate. Funding decisions are made independently by each foundation using its normal mechanisms for review and decision-making.

Partnership Focal Areas

Much of the Partnership's work -- both joint and individual -- has concentrated on priority areas identified in our Strategic Plan:

Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and Higher Education

Because ICT is key to enhancing the capacity of African universities to provide quality training and conduct high caliber research, the Partnership has been heavily engaged in ICT-related work from the outset. The priority for partner institutions was access to more bandwidth at low cost, which is essential for teaching, learning and research at the universities. In 2005 almost all of the Joint Partnership grants focused in ICT.  Building on work that began in 2002, the founding four foundations made $5 million in grants to the African Virtual University (AVU) to establish Africa's first bandwidth consortium for partner institutions.  Hewlett joined with a $400,000 grant to AVU to purchase additional bandwidth.  Finally, the Ford and Rockefeller foundations joined hands in grants to the Kenya Education Network (KENET), which will permit KENET to link its 23 member universities to the AVU bandwidth consortium system.

Partnership assistance on bandwidth was complemented by grants to the Tertiary Education Network (TENET) of South Africa to collaborate with grantees on bandwidth management policies and implementation.  The Mellon Foundation, which helped to establish TENET, also contributed funds to allow TENET to work on a sub-regional and regional basis on bandwidth management and the establishment of National Research and Education Networks. (NRENs).

The digitization of African research materials and e-learning were also the foci of grantmaking.  The Hewlett Foundation made two grants to AVU, totaling $950,000 for the development of e-learning materials.  The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) received $800,000 from Carnegie Corporation for collaboration with universities in Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda on digital engineering laboratories.  The Mellon Foundation, through its Aluka initiative, made over $3.3 million in grants for the digitization of images and information on African plants, as part of an effort to assist African institutions manage and disseminate African research information.

Regional Approaches to Institutional Capacity Building and Research

The Partnership is committed to regional networks that build economies of scale and critical mass in selected fields. Support to the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC), the Association of African Universities (AAU), the University Science, Humanities and Engineering Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA) program, and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) fall within this category. In addition each of the Partnership foundations funds both regional and national networks.  The Hewlett Foundation, for example, supports a number of population networks, such as the Union for African Population Studies and the African Population Health Research Centre.

In 2005 the Partnership also commissioned a study to investigate how support for networks can strengthen those universities being assisted by Partnership members.  In addition a database was developed of over 120 regional networks engaged in research and post-graduate education in Africa.  The database was recently published on the Partnership website:

Higher Education Research and Analysis

Four case studies, which were funded in 2000-2004, have been knowledge-producing exercises and covered Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania and South Africa. Case-study publication and initiation of the Partnership Web site are part of an effort to inform others of developments in higher education in Africa. The Partnership also funded the establishment of the Journal of Higher Education in Africa, published jointly by Boston College and CODESRIA through 2006 and now taken over by CODESRIA.  

Other notable examples of Partnership work in this area include support for a survey of multilateral and bilateral support to higher education in Africa and the postgraduate training program in higher education studies at the University of the Western Cape.  In early 2007 three volumes in the case study series will be published on Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana and a study of the educational pipeline fro girls and women in East Africa will be completed.

Frontiers of Knowledge in Science and Technology for Africa:
University Leaders' Forum

The Partnership has been able to take advantage of regular gatherings of university leaders and higher education scholars occasioned by the case studies to establish an informal network of higher education experts. These sessions have focused and elevated the level of debate within the African higher education community and have provided valuable learning activities. We are now experimenting with a more formal venue for these interactions. Bandwidth was the topic of the first such roundtable; convened in 2004, the meeting was attended by Vice Chancellors and information technology managers. In November 2006 the first forum on Frontiers of Knowledge in Science and Technology for Africa was convened at the University of Cape Town, focusing on the university role in harnessing ICT for economic development. A full comprehensive collection of documents from that forum is available here.

© 2021 Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

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