The Government of Japan and a number of African countries have taken the step towards developing a long-term collaboration to enhance joint research, faculty/student exchange and innovation in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Facilitated by the World Bank and financed by the Government of Japan, the 1st Africa-Japan Higher Education Partnership Workshop was hosted in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan from October 21st-26th 2018, and gathered 25 African academic leaders from Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania and Zambia.
The initiative seeks to provide partnership development opportunities for African and Japanese universities as well as businesses, and aims to do so by sharing knowledge and experience of the Japanese higher education and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy, and the African states’ models of university partnerships in the fields of research and innovation. The Africa Center of Excellence (ACE) and the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) are two platforms to facilitate this collaboration amongst Japanese government, universities and companies, and African higher education institutions.
Over the course of five days, participants learned about the university partnership models as developed through PASET and ACE and benefited from discussions with representatives of the Japanese government, universities and research centers who provided insights and lessons on the university-industry partnerships, innovation ecosystem development, Japanese models of higher education, STI policy and research funding models, and higher education initiatives from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Participants also resonated with the university consortium model shared by the University Consortium Kyoto which introduced Japan’s first university credit exchange system, the country’s internship system, and city development through universities. Furthermore, the workshop provided participants the opportunity to visit the following 15 Japanese universities and research centers to discuss concrete partnership opportunities:
- University of Tokyo
- Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (TUAT)
- Shibaura Institute of Technology (SIT)
- Waseda University
- Tokyo Women’s Medical University
- Chiba Institute of Technology
- United Nations University
- Institute for Global Health Policy Research (iGHP)
- Sophia University
- Kogakuin University
- Kyoto University
- Kobe University
- Nagasaki university
- Doshisha University
- Ritsumeikan University
Additionally, participants visited seven Japanese companies where they gained further insights to explore partnership opportunities in ICT (online education, artificial intelligence, and blockchain), agriculture, water, health, and railway sectors. The site visit included the following companies: Takeda Pharmaceutical, Suntory, Tokyu Railway, Chitose Bio Evolution, Liberdade, Couger, and Castalia.
“We are delighted to enter into multi-level partnerships with African Universities to develop African talent in science and technology,” said Hideaki Imamura, Director of the Multilateral Development Banks Division at the Japanese Ministry of Finance. “This alliance is the beginning of a long-term relationship between Africa and Japan where we will focus on building significant STEM capacity in the African continent and learn from each other.”
The 1st Africa-Japan Higher Education Partnership Workshop highlights the strong support received from the Japanese government, universities and companies to increase investments in resources and partnership development towards higher education in the fields of STI in Africa. PASET and ACE serve as the main platforms for sustainable and concrete development towards these objectives, and in the five-day workshop, two Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) were signed with PASET Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund host universities. The first MoU was signed between Sokoine University of Agriculture and the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology; and the second between the University of Gaston Berger and the online education company Castalia. In addition to these two, 10 MoUs are currently in the final drafting stages and 20 more are in discussion between African and Japanese universities, research institutes, and companies.
“The highlight of the event was the wrap up session with the feedback from the 14 ACEs and the diversity of the potential collaborations that we have been discussing. I believe that solid results will come from each participating center in the future” said Michael Hughes of the PASET Executive Board.