New funding for African universities
Six of the richest US foundations, in alliance with universities in seven African countries, announced in September that they will spend more than $200 mn over the next five years to strengthen higher education in Africa. The funding will aim to significantly increase Internet access for the universities, provide scholarships for hundreds of young women and train agricultural scientists and public health managers.
“Education, particularly higher education, will take Africa into the mainstream of globalization,” said Ghanaian President John Kufuor, following the announcement in New York. The countries taking part in the programme are Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Members of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa , as the group is known, say the commitment is a recognition of a “quiet revolution” in Africa , in which universities will play an increasing role in innovation and training.
“We need to train teachers and build up research capacity,” said UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. “We need to strengthen open universities and distance-learning programmes and we need to ensure that African institutions have access to the latest technologies.” Women and poor people still face too many obstacles to accessing higher education, he noted.
The new funding comes on top of a $150 mn programme first launched in 2000 by the Carnegie, Ford, MacArthur and Rockefeller foundations in the seven countries. This time, the partnership has been joined by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
AIDS and agriculture network launched
A network to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS on farming communities has been convened by the Africa Rice Centre (WARDA), an autonomous intergovernmental research association of African states. Supported by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the initiative will explore ways to enhance the quality of life in farming regions affected by the epidemic, improve nutrition and carry out policy advocacy and awareness campaigns.
The African Network on HIV/AIDS and Agriculture (ANEHA) will “serve as an interface not only between HIV/AIDS and agriculture, but will also include inter-related food security, nutrition and health policy aspects,” says WARDA Director-General Kanayo Nwanze.
Researchers report that HIV/AIDS has ravaged farming communities so badly that the amount of cultivated land in some countries has declined by nearly 70 per cent. Although about 75 per cent of all Africans work primarily in agriculture, the infection of more than 25 million people leaves fewer and fewer hands to till the land. As a result less land is cultivated, many farmers switch to crops that require less labour, traditional farming knowledge and skills are lost, seasonal crop deadlines are missed, overall production is reduced and farmers’ incomes fall.
Mr. Abdoulie Janneh of the Gambia has been appointed by the UN Secretary-General as the new executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), replacing Mr. K.Y. Amoako. At the time of his appointment, Mr. Janneh was the regional director for Africa of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Prior to that, he held a number of senior positions in UNDP and its affiliated funds, including as deputy executive secretary of the UN Capital Development Fund.
Mr. Firmino G. Mucavele of Mozambique (right) has been named chief executive of the Secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union’s development plan, effective August 2005. He succeeds Mr. Wiseman Nkuhlu, who remains a member of the NEPAD Steering Committee. Previously, Mr. Mucavele was a special adviser to Mozambique’s president, served as a dean at Eduardo Mondlane University and contributed to the formulation of the Millennium Africa Recovery Programme, one of NEPAD’s precursors. He has also served as a consultant on issues of food security, agricultural market liberalization and rural development.
Mr. Alan Doss of the UK has been named by the UN Secretary-General as his special representative for Liberia . As part of a long career at the UN, he has served as deputy special representative in Côte d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone, as a UNDP resident representative and as director of the UN Development Group, among other positions.
The UN General Assembly has elected Mr. Jan Eliasson of Sweden (left) as the president of its 60th session, which opened in September. He has held a variety of senior positions in his country’s diplomatic service (at different times as ambassador to the US and the UN), as well as in the United Nations. He served as the UN Secretary-General’s personal representative on Iran and Iraq in 1988-92, and in the latter year became the UN’s first under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs.
Mr. Donald Kaberuka, Rwanda’s minister of finance and economic planning (right), was sworn in on September 1, 2005, as president of the African Development Bank (ADB), for a five-year term. He succeeds Mr. Omar Kabbaj. Mr. Kaberuka was chosen by the Board of Governors of the 77 member countries of the Bank Group, headquartered in Tunisia. An economist, he was the principal architect of his country’s post-war reconstruction programme and served as its governor to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
The UN General Assembly has confirmed the appointment of Mr. Supachai Panitchpakdi of Thailand as secretary-general of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), for a four-year term beginning on 1 September 2005. Following a long career in various academic, economic and political positions in Thailand, he became director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2002.