Planning Meeting for the Second Afro-Arab Partnership Forum Held
In 2019, the first Afro-Arab Partnership forum focusing on African higher education and agriculture was convened by the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) in collaboration with Arab Organisation for Agricultural Development (AOAD), the Arab Bank for Economic Development (BADEA) and Uganda Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoST&I). This consultative forum was designed to provide a platform for dialogue between the African higher education sector and the global as well as African development partners to chat a way forward for promoting equal opportunity in youth employability and entrepreneurship in Africa.
The forum is part of the RUFORUM iterative processes for the design and implementation of initiatives that strengthen higher education and agricultural sectors in Africa, with emphasis on business incubation and enterprise creation. As such, and following the success of the first meeting in Kampala, it has been considered important to hold a second one in 2021 to be co-hosted by RUFORUM and Uganda Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoST&I). This will be organised under the theme “Mobilising Partnership for supporting implementation of Africa’s Universities Agenda for Higher Agricultural Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (AHESTI)”.
A preparatory meeting was held today 18th February 2021 to consult with key stakeholders on the planned second Afro-Arab Partnership forum. This virtual meeting, hosted by the RUFORUM Secretariat, was attended by African Union Commission (AUC), Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD), Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Sudan Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (MoHESR) and Uganda Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoST&I).
The preparatory meeting, which highlighted the Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship as a key issue in Africa, was addressed by Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM Executive Secretary; Prof. Ibrahim El Dukheri, Director General of the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development (AOAD); Dr. Mohammed Elfeel, Technical Advisor to the Director General, the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA); Ms. En'amulrahman Malkawi, the Global Youth Empowerment Specialist, Islamic Development Bank; Ms. Diana Akullo Ogwal Oyena, Policy Officer - Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Rural Economy and Sustainable Development of the African Union Commission; and Ms. Monica Nyakaisiki, Assistant Commissioner, MoST&I (Uganda).
The meeting key highlights were:
- AOAD aims to support agriculture and food security in the Arab region and Africa and has a new strategy aligned to the global SDGs, which among others, focuses on supporting and facilitating transformation of food and agricultural systems in the two regions, eradicating hunger and reducing poverty through enhanced productivity, and fostering better knowledge sharing among key actors, among others. AOAD places strong emphasis on engaging youth in the development process and supports activities that promote youth skill development and employability.
- BADEA is committed to the development of higher education; agriculture; science and technology; youth employability; and strengthening SMEs in Africa, which are all in line with the BADEA strategy. BADEA has committed to and is funding a Feasibility Study in Uganda on Strengthening Youth Employability and Entrepreneurship in Africa (YEED) project. Based on the outcome of the Feasibility study, it is planned that the Project be launched in Uganda and other countries.
- IsDB has a youth development strategy, which was approved one year ago focusing on three pillars: education, economic empowerment of youth, and youth engagement with the aim of having engaged and productive youth demonstrating leadership in their communities, agriculture being one of the main sectors of focus.
- AUC values its partnership with RUFORUM and AOAD in advancing Africa’s agricultural agenda and acknowledges the role of agriculture in advancing youth employability and entrepreneurship. The issue of youth employability affects the entire Africa continent and the global community. AUC invites RUFORUM and African Universities to actively participate in implementation of the AUC continental frameworks including CAADP review planned for this year and also in the EU-AUC Partnership activities geared to Food and Nutrition Security and Sustainable Agriculture.
- MoST&I (Uganda) recognises the roles of the various key stakeholders in addressing youth employability challenge and is committed to working with Afro-Arab partners in the cause of transforming higher education, science, technology and innovation especially in line with youth employability and development of Higher Education Regional Training Centres across Africa. Agriculture being the backbone of the economy of Africa is key in the transformation of the continent and therefore the planned forum will be very important. Uganda Government has accepted to host the Forum event and looks forward to welcoming the delegates to Kampala.
The Planning meeting agreed that the Second Afro-Arab Partnership Forum be held sometimes in October or November 2021.