UN Secretary General Kofi Annan joined the presidents of six of the largest U.S. foundations in announcing a $200 million commitment by the foundations over the next five years to further strengthen higher education in seven African nations.
The investment by the foundations includes more than $5 million that will enable a consortium of African universities to obtain eight times the amount of Internet bandwidth available to them as recently as two years ago. The cost will be less than one-third the rate paid by most African institutions. The consortium has entered into an agreement with Intelsat, a global satellite operator, to provide the bandwidth.
The announcement represents a significant renewal of support for African universities from the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, which was originally launched in 2000 by Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Ford, MacArthur and Rockefeller Foundations.
Over the past five years, the foundations contributed more than $150 million to build core capacity and support special initiatives at universities in six nations: Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Kenya has joined as the seventh nation this year.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have now joined the partnership as contributors.
To catapult more women into leadership roles, over $10 million in academic scholarships have been awarded to almost 1000 students attending universities in four African countries: Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. In Uganda, Makerere University has worked with the government to implement hands-on programs to increase the quantity and quality of trained public servants, including a novel master's program in public health aimed at supplying the country's districts with new health systems managers.
Commenting on the progress underway at many African universities, Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation said, "Knowledge, innovation and talent are critical currencies needed to thrive in today's interconnected world, and Africa's universities are increasingly looked upon to generate the ideas and talent necessary to address Africa's challenges, on Africa's terms."
"The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa represents our commitment to Africa's next generation of leaders, who deserve an exemplary education to prepare them to help set the course for their nations' futures," said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation. "We expect the universities in which we invest to become the foundation of a higher education network that will serve all of Africa for decades to come."