Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Secretary-General of the African Research Universities Alliance has recently undertaken official tours of Makerere University and University of Nairobi.
The Secretary-General arrived in Kampala on Tuesday, 15th May 2018 and immediately met with the Senior Management team of Makerere University. He was welcomed to the campus and to the meeting by Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor of the University. Professor Nawangwe introduced his colleagues to the ARUA Secretary-General. These included the Principal of the College of Business and Management Sciences and Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Finance and Administration), Professor Eria Hisali and the Academic Registrar, Mr. Masikye Namoah. Also present were several other Principals of the various colleges of Makerere University or their representatives, the Directors of Finance and Internal Audit, representatives of the International Office and others. In his opening remarks, the Vice Chancellor recounted Makerere’s association with ARUA from inception and reiterated his university’s commitment to the ideals of ARUA. He informed the meeting of his intention to support all the colleges to be major participants in the activities of ARUA. He also encouraged his colleagues to take the institution of ARUA seriously and encourage their researchers to embrace the opportunities offered by ARUA.
In a presentation to the Senior Management of Makerere University, the Secretary-General outlined the vision of ARUA and traced its origins to the strong desire of a group of Vice Chancellors to make a difference to the way African universities had been perceived. He emphasized the use of collaboration as a major strategy in achieving the goals of ARUA. He maintained that it was important for the entire university leadership to understand the rationale for setting up ARUA and relate this subsequently to the faculty and students of their university. He explained how the ARUA Centres of Excellence were selected and encouraged Makerere researchers to use these as much as possible to grow their work.
The presentation by the Secretary-General was followed by a very lively set of exchanges on how ARUA might best engage with African research universities. A number of suggestions were made to the Secretary-General on possible strategies and future activities of ARUA. All the university leaders present believed that ARUA was a great initiative and committed themselves to use it to advance future developments in their colleges and schools, working through the Centres of Excellence.
On the second day of his visit to Makerere University, the Secretary-General visited the Makerere Research Centre for Crop Improvement. He was received by the Director of the Centre, Dr. Edema. After a meeting with the staff and students of the Centre, the Secretary-General was taken round the excellent facilities of the Centre to learn of the major investments made by the University and various funders to establish this centre of excellence that was capable of contributing significantly to the work of ARUA in the area of food security.
Professor Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, hosted the ARUA Secretary-General, Professor Ernest Aryeetey to a lunch at the Makerere University Guest Centre on the second day. This was attended by the university leadership and other officials of Makerere. At the lunch both parties reaffirmed their commitments from the previous meeting and pledged to work to make ARUA a success through effective enhancements at Makerere University.
While in Kampala, the Secretary-General also visited the offices of RUFORUM (Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture) at the Makerere campus. The courtesy call afforded him an opportunity to engage once again with Professor Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM. They discussed ways in which the two institutions could work together to enhance the research capacities of African universities.
The Secretary-General was welcomed to the main campus of University of Nairobi by Professor Madara Ogot, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) on 18th May 2018. After a brief interaction at the DVC’s office, the two had three separate meetings with academic leaders of University of Nairobi in order to engage them on ARUA matters. The first was a meeting with researchers from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Architecture and Engineering. The second meeting was with researchers from the College of Biological and Physical Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences. The last meeting was with researchers at the College of Health Sciences.
At all the meetings, after brief introductions, the Secretary-General was given the opportunity to inform the audience about ARUA and how it operates. The presentations focused on the goals and strategies of ARUA and the relationships that ARUA expects to develop between researchers of the member universities and the ARUA Secretariat. The meetings also discussed the ARUA Centres of Excellence (CoEs) and the approach that University of Nairobi had for engaging with a number of the assigned CoEs. The Secretary-General received comments and suggestions about expanding the scope of ARUA engagements to include more thematic areas in future.
After the meetings the Secretary-General was taken round two ultra-modern laboratories at the College of Health Sciences, namely KAVI and UNITID. These are two laboratories that represent world-class effort to undertake scientific research in the region and are capable of being used for any type of collaborative efforts to advance molecular and cell research.