On 25 October, 25 representatives from African universities and research organizations, supported by the World Bank, visited Kyoto University for a meeting with faculty who have connections to the continent. The gathering, coordinated by the KyotoU Interdisciplinary Unit for African Studies (Africa Unit) and held at Inamori Center (Inamori Foundation Memorial Building), was focused on possible collaboration between the African and Japanese institutions.
The World Bank is supporting African higher education institutions with capacity enhancements, through initiatives such as the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) program, which is serving 48 participants selected from 16 countries across the continent. The initiative was launched in 2014, and has to date involved a total expenditure of approximately 60 billion yen.
The Inamori Center meeting was one of several opportunities provided by the bank in late October for representatives of African institutions to explore collaboration with Japanese universities in areas such as research, faculty training, and student admission.
Visitors on 25 October represented institutions that have, or are expected to shortly conclude, an inter-university academic exchange agreement with Kyoto, including Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, the University of Ghana, and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) in Tanzania, and institutes searching for collaboration partners in public health and disaster prevention.
The meeting began with a briefing on the World Bank Higher Education Program in Africa, presented by Education Consultant Saori Imaizumi of the bank’s Education Global Practice unit. Representing KyotoU, Professor Masayoshi Shigeta, joint director of the Africa Unit and the Center for African Area Studies (CAAS), then delivered a welcome address, outlining the University’s Africa-related research and education activities. Participants were next divided into groups according to their institutions’ partnership status with Kyoto and to their interests, to discuss research and collaboration with the University’s relevant faculty. Professor Rhodes H Makundi of the SUA Pest Management Center, for example, discussed an impending SUA-KyotoU collaboration agreement, and expressed high expectations for a faculty-exchange program that may be possible under this partnership with ACE support.
The meeting provided an invaluable opportunity for Kyoto University to explore the possibility of further cooperation with institutions in Africa, where it has been actively expanding its engagement over the past years.