Newsletter 6/2011

New excellence network in Africa

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation is launching the African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES) in conjunction with researchers from various African countries.

Inaugural AGNES conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Inaugural AGNES conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Photo: Humboldt Foundation

The AGNES Network is designed to enhance the visibility of the leading role played by research and innovation in sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Leading researchers from the region wish to work more closely with each other and with colleagues in Germany, and also enlist junior researchers for new research collaborations.

The new network met for its inaugural conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 16 to 18 November 2011. Participants included key individuals from the Humboldt Network such as Ambassador Scientists, German hosts and collaborative partners as well as presidents of African alumni associations.

To date, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has sponsored 1,100 scientists and scholars from Africa. In Sub-Saharan countries in particular – where, statistically, there is just one academic per ten to twenty thousand inhabitants – this group of people plays a major role not only in researching and developing specific problem-solving strategies but also in civil society, politics and business.

AGNES is to support social change in Africa which is creating more scope for individual achievement and making academic excellence a socially recognised criterion for professional development. Whereas in the past the heads of university institutes, for example, were often appointed on grounds of seniority, increasingly they are now highly qualified young academics. They are expected to support the development of strategies at African universities to meet the diverse challenges facing Africa and to educate scientists and scholars at international level.

Further information