NEPAD agency partners with UK universities to set up hub

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) agency and Durham University in the United Kingdom are to jointly set up an Africa Hub to help African countries and universities increase their research, it has been announced.

“The NEPAD Africa Hub will be part of the partnership with the ‘N8 hub’, which includes the following universities: Durham, Leeds, Newcastle, Lancaster, Manchester, Liverpool, York and Sheffield,” reads a NEPAD statement.

In addition to helping African universities increase their research capacity, further collaboration will be in various areas of development such as agriculture, extractive industries, the green economy, and alignment between the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, amongst others.

“The collaboration will see the sharing of knowledge through education and capacity building, while supporting and consolidating technology footprints where possible, but at the same time minimising duplication and redundancy.”

The eight universities in the N8 Research Partnership are the most research-intensive universities in the North of England and all work with industry to, among other aims, maximise the impact of research by promoting collaboration and establishing innovative research capabilities and programmes of national and international importance.

Among the partnership’s achievements is supporting new and growing businesses by filing over 1,000 patents since 2010 and supporting companies through knowledge exchange (over 31,000 contracts in 2014-15, with 12,000 of these with non-commercial organisations).

It also launched the N8 Industry Innovation Forum to maximise links between private sector research and development, industrial and consumer needs and the research base in the UK, and to date this has generated over 30 new collaborations between university and industry partners and £9 million (US$12 million) in new research grants.

In the statement, the NEPAD agency said the collaboration was consummated when the agency’s director of programmes, Estherine Lisinge-Fotabong, and its head of the natural resource governance, food security and nutrition programme, Dr Hamady Diop, visited Durham University, Newcastle University, Lancaster University and the University of Hull.

An official from Britain’s National Aquaculture Centre, Clifford Spencer, who is a NEPAD Goodwill Ambassador, said the continent has a wealth of indigenous knowledge which can be used not only for national policy, but also for international policy.