Tuesday, November 9, 2021

 Friday 5th November 2021 was the official launch day of the Innovation for African Universities (IAU) Programme.  The external digital launch was organized and hosted by the British Council- Sub Saharan Africa office. The programme designed to run for a period of 18 months began in April 2021 and will run till September 2021. The IAU programme will be delivered by a Centre of Excellence consisting of tripartite partners – University of Nairobi, City University of London and Change School London. The programme is designed to support the development of Africa – UK University partnerships to build the capacity of African universities to engage more positively with entrepreneurship ecosystems. 

Various speakers from UK, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria and Ghana gave an in-depth insight into how this programme will directly impact the institutions of higher learning, students and by extension the sub-Saharan region. The overarching message from the speakers was that the programme objectives are in line with the host countries priority objectives and the project will provide a platform for collaboration, learning and knowledge exchange

Mr. Moses Anibaba OBE, Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, British Council said “By 2050 the sub- Sahara Africa region is projected to have the world’s youngest population, we need to recognize the massive potential of this young demographic. The Innovation for African Universities (IAU) programme will support youth across Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.”The IAU programme has adapted a model that seeks to strengthen the capacity of the universities. The unique aspect about this project is that it is driven by African Universities; the approach will make the home grown solutions more sustainable over time.

Adetomi Soyinka- British Council gave an in-depth presentation detailing the general overview of the program, programme. “The IAU programme will leverage on the trends across the continent where we find organically developing ecosystem being driven by ambitious and tenacious youth.” Across Africa the issues of youth unemployment and under employment are rampant; this programme has been structured to facilitate institutional partnerships between African Universities and the United Kingdom to strengthen the role of Universities entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Neil Marshall, Development Director at Change School in the UK: said “The IAU program is a university driven, pan-African Program that will build a system where higher education institutions in Africa and UK build and Entrepreneurial ecosystems are symbiotic, supporting each other to the benefit of the economy and the lives of millions of African Youth. The program will create a platform where participants can work and learn from each other.  We have 24 programmes running in 4 countries 9 in South Africa, 6 in Nigeria, 5 in Kenya and 4 in Ghana.”

Yawa Hansen Quao – The Executive Director of Emerging Public Leaders - Ghana, remarked “What’s going on in African Universities today influences every sphere of Africa’s development. It is critical for Universities to have support to improve the ways in which they are educating the youth – the future leaders. The programme supports young people and their drive to entrepreneurship.”

Mr. Darius Mogaka Ogutu - The Director of University Education and Research at the Ministry of Education in Kenya congratulated the participating Universities from Kenya stating, the objectives of the programme resonate very well with the priorities of the higher education sector in Kenya.” The IAU program seeks to build the capacity of African Universities to engage more positively with entrepreneurship ecosystem. This will enable universities will to nurture market ready graduates and empower a new generation of innovators who are skilled to create jobs for economic development.  

Dr Eric Nkansah –The Director/Technical Advisor, Tertiary Directorate: “This programme is in line with our government agenda to reposition our universities to produce a critical mass of employable and empowered Ghanaian youth.

Mandisa Cakwe – The Director: Teaching, Learning and Research Development. Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) - South Africa also said “this programme will ensure that university students are equipped to participate in the economy and support the develop the Universities ecosystems as they train students to take their place in entrepreunral systems.”   The project will increase the employability of students and their capacity to create jobs. The IAU is building partnerships between the Universities in Africa and UK that will be impactful.

About the programme: Innovation for African Universities Programme

The British Council has launched the Innovation for African Universities (IAU) programme aimed at strengthening the capacity of Universities to participate and provide meaningful contributions as key players within the entrepreneurship ecosystem  in their respective regions. In January 2021, The British Council put out a call for partners to manage certain programme components and host the centre of excellence. After a rigorous selection process with over 30 applications received from a cross section of universities within the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa, the British Council announced the selection of tripartite partners: University of NairobiCity University of London and the Change School.

Over the next 18 months, British Council will work with these institutions to develop a network of collaborative partnerships which support an exchange of learning that fosters an increased culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within universities across focal programme locations.

The overarching programme objective is to strengthen the capacity of universities and increase their capability to participate and provide meaningful contributions as key players within the entrepreneurship ecosystem