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Visits to CIVIS African partner universities pave the way for next steps in collaboration

26 September 2022
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In summer 2022, CIVIS started an official tour of visits to our strategic African partner universities. After the signing of strategic partnership agreements in March, these latest meetings on African campuses demonstrated once more the great potential of our partnership, while giving room for in-depth discussions about how to make these possibilities a reality.

In August and September, official delegations involving all CIVIS member universities, and all our internal communities (faculty, students, staff), visited three of the six strategic partner universities in Africa.

The University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, – Wits

Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo, Mozambique – UEM

The University Hassan II of Casablanca, Morocco – UH2C

One main purpose of the visits was to meet with the institutional contact persons at our African partners and discuss the next concrete steps in implementing our partnerships according to the objectives already agreed upon. Key priorities include collaboration within the CIVIS Hubs, joint projects to acquire funding, and common actions to increase mobility. “It was incredibly useful to talk to our partners face-to-face about these issues, also because we could openly talk about challenges ahead and how we can address them”, says Christian Möllmann, the CIVIS coordinator for African partnerships.

However, the visits offered much more than meetings thanks to the rich programme which all hosts organised. “The talks with the colleagues in the many institutes, units, and departments we were able to visit turned out to be a constant fountain of ideas for possible connections and collaborations”, says Francois Heinderyckx (ULB), member of the CIVIS Steering Committee and who participated in the delegations to Wits and UEM on 22-26 August. “The connections and complementarities I found during our visit were impressive, in areas like climate change research, the collaboration with local stakeholders, or the development of IT infrastructure, to name just a few. We now face the happy challenge to find ways to work together and get many of those ideas flying.”

His colleague Irene Martin (UAM), CIVIS Steering Committee member and joining the visit to UH2C Casablanca on 22-23 September adds another important outcome of the visits. “Our stay was instrumental for presenting CIVIS at our partner institution and to also build personal, trusting contacts as basis for future collaborations. Our hosts made this very easy. The warm welcome and the hospitality we experienced here were fantastic.”

Visits to the three other CIVIS strategic partners - Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (Senegal), Makerere University (Uganda), and the University of Sfax (Tunisia) – are next on the CIVIS itinerary. The success of the three visits conducted so far suggests great potential for these future visits. In any case, after the signing of our strategic partnership agreements earlier this year and the completion of first joint pilot activities, these physical meetings signal that CIVIS and its African partners have truly moved into a phase of concrete work when it comes to the development of our flourishing partnership.