African and U.S. Universities Partner to Tackle Development Challenges Across Africa 

September 8, 2010 
Contact: Lynn Simmonds
(202) 243-7697


WASHINGTON, D.C. – USAID and Higher Education for Development announced that 11 innovative new partnerships between 22 universities in Africa and the United States have each been awarded up to $1.1 million for activities to address issues including food security and agriculture, solar energy, health care, education, and water in Africa. These partnerships will maximize the resources of U.S. institutions while placing African universities in the lead to capitalize on their on-the-ground knowledge, proximity to the challenges, and build their own capacity to better address these challenges.

“The citizens, academics, and civic and educational institutions of developing countries must be integrated into the way we partner to address development challenges,” said USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa Franklin Moore. “In this way, we can ensure that projects are sustainable, reflect decades of lessons learned, are maximally effective and targeted, and help to build in-country capacity to solve development challenges. Universities are among the most important parts of civil society, and their engagement in policy and program design and implementation is critically important.”

“Higher education is critical to building a strong Africa,” said A۰P۰L۰U President Peter McPherson, a former USAID Administrator. “These partnerships will combine the knowledge and resources of African and U.S. universities to solve some of the critical issues hindering economic development in African countries and each of the sectors in which USAID is working. Developed in partnership with African higher education and government leaders, these projects are part of the vision USAID and the other partners have for Africa.”

“The partners’ expertise and drive have been proven through success in a highly competitive review and selection process,” said HED Executive Director Tully Cornick. “I am encouraged to see today’s plans being transformed into sustainable solutions through applied research, higher education opportunities and community involvement. These Africa-led partnerships have seized an opportunity for change and reflect a deep level of understanding shaped by the contributions of the African institution partners.”

These 11 partnerships have detailed five-year strategic plans with a 10-year vision to address national and regional development priorities in sub-Saharan Africa through higher education human and institutional capacity development. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through a grant to Higher Education for Development (HED), the partnerships are the result of the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative, a collaborative effort started in 2007 by a number of higher education associations and other organizations and led by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U) to advocate for increased engagement in African higher education capacity development. 

Lead U.S. institutions include: Brown University (RI), Colorado State University, Indiana University, Michigan State University, North Dakota State University, Syracuse University (NY), The Ohio State University, Tuskegee University (AL), University of Cincinnati (OH), University of Connecticut, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Lead African institutions of the partnerships include: Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Catholic University of Sudan, International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (Burkina Faso), Kenyatta University (Kenya), Makerere University (Uganda), University of Cape Town (South Africa), Université Gaston-Berger (Senegal), University of Ghana, University of Liberia, University of Malawi, and the University of Nairobi (Kenya).

Host Organizations

United States Agency for International Development
The American people, through the United States Agency for International Development, have provided economic and humanitarian assistance worldwide for nearly 50 years. For more information, visit

Higher Education for Development
Higher Education for Development (HED) works closely with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and is founded by the nation’s six presidential higher education associations to support the involvement of higher education in development issues worldwide.

The Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative/A۰P۰L۰U
The Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative was established in July 2007 to advocate for increased U.S. engagement in African higher education capacity development, with the main purpose of increasing teaching, problem solving and administrative capacity in African institutions. The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U) spearheaded the development of this initiative and will continue to provide resources and leadership. The American Council on Education is providing important administrative and financial support. Also engaged in the undertaking are: the American Association of Community Colleges; the Association of African Universities; the Association of American Universities; the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; the Forum for Agricultural Research; Higher Education for Development; the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities; the Partnership to Cut Hunger and Poverty in Africa; and, USAID.

Tully Cornick, 202-243-7680
Executive Director
Higher Education for Development

Peter McPherson, 202-473-6040  
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Terry W. Hartle, 202-939-9365
Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs
American Council on Education

Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative Partnerships

Water and Environmental Technology
The International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering in Burkina Faso is working with Tuskegee University to develop faculty expertise, curriculum and linkages with private, public and non-government organizations to improve water and environmental science and technology. Through further collaboration with university faculty in Nigeria and Ghana, the partners will create centers of excellence in this focus area.

Sustainable Water Resources Development and Management
Addis Ababa University
and the University of Connecticut are addressing water resources issues through collaborative research and academic exchanges. The development of an integrated water resources engineering program will support the next generation of water professionals in addressing the management of this precious resource in Ethiopia.

Higher Education Initiative for HIV/AIDS
The University of Ghana’s College of Health Sciences and Brown University have identified HIV/AIDS as a key development issue and are working together to create a National Educational Center of Excellence in HIV/AIDS. The partners envision holding multidisciplinary trainings at the center to better equip cadres of care providers from West Africa with knowledge focused on this public health challenge.

Building Capacity through Quality Teacher Preparation

Kenya’s Kenyatta University and Syracuse University have teamed to support teachers’ growth as professionals by helping them plan, prepare and adapt lessons and lectures for English-language learners, large lectures, and increased learner engagement at the secondary school level. Partners will place additional attention on training higher education instructors to successfully train teachers.

Sustainability of Drylands
The University of Nairobi in Kenya and Colorado State University have begun the first steps of a long-term plan with the collaboration among Kenyan, Tanzanian and Malian universities as a critical component to deal effectively with the economic, ecological and educational problems and needs of African communities that endure low rainfall and therefore low crop yield. The partners are developing a regional center and drylands program at the University of Nairobi to research agriculture and natural resource management in these drylands.

Life Sciences Planning Initiative
The University of Liberia and Indiana University, Bloomington recognized a healthcare workforce shortage in a country with limited human capacity at the university level to educate those seeking professions in life sciences. Through a collaboration of resources and expertise among these lead partners and the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine and the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the group is assessing and developing an improved life science curriculum, including the undergraduate courses of chemistry/bio-chemistry, biology/biotechnology, botany, zoology, agriculture, pre-clinical medical and nursing.

Ecosystems Services: Linking Science to Action in Malawi and the Region
Uneven development, population growth, and climate change have resulted in forest, fishery, soil, and water degradation in Malawi and the region. The partnership of the University of Malawi (UNIMA), Michigan State University, and Lincoln University aims to create a Center of Excellence in ecosystem services science at UNIMA that results in economic growth and poverty alleviation while sustaining a healthy environment for Malawi and the Southern African region.

Development of a West African e-Education Agro-ecology Program for Sustainable Food Production
Trained agricultural professionals, practitioners, and scientists are needed in Senegal to sustainably address challenges in the fragile Sahelian ecosystems, as the country’s fruit and vegetable export industry increases. Université Gaston-Berger and The Ohio State University will support that need through the introduction of comprehensive Associate, Bachelor, and Master of Science degree programs in agro-ecology and increase the dissemination of the new curriculum throughout the Sahel using E-education technology.

Solar Energy Devices for Africa
The use of solar power energy devices is one solution to sub-Saharan Africa’s energy issues that the partners at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and University of Cincinnati are supporting. They will set up student exchanges between the institutions, study models for research capacity and develop technical models for less expensive solar energy devices.

Rebuilding Higher Education in Agriculture to Support Food Security, Economic Growth, and Peace Efforts in Post-Conflict Southern Sudan

The Catholic University of Sudan and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University are supporting agricultural production by creating a plan to restore higher education curriculum and research that will, in turn, assist post-conflict Southern Sudan to confront and resolve its severe food security problems. Virginia Tech is collaborating closely with the Catholic University of Sudan and the University of Juba to build a balance of teaching, research, and extension programs of faculty and graduate students.

Capacity Building in Integrated Management of Zoonoses and Vector-borne Diseases in Eastern and Central Africa
Makerere University in Uganda and North Dakota State University identified that at least 70 percent of the human and animal pathogens affecting global trade are found in sub-Saharan Africa. To address this issue, they are developing a coordinated surveillance system that will enable risk assessment and reduction. Through education and research the partners seek to establish centers of excellence for solutions in the area of assessment, communication and response to potential trans-boundary pandemic zoonotic and vector borne diseases as well as endemic zoonotic and production-limiting animal diseases that jeopardize food security.