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On May 12, 2017, we concluded the "Academics in Sub-Saharan Africa" annual project with a final workshop. "Academics in Sub-Saharan Africa" is the second workshop series in the Welcome Centre's "Academics in..."-series funded by the DAAD. It follows the initial focus, which was "Academics in China" in 2016/2017. The series "Academics in..." is a three year project funded by the DAAD support programme STIBET Doktoranden, following the self-initiated "Academics in Turkey"-pilot workshop in 2014.
The aim of the project was to provide junior researchers from Sub-Saharan Africa with a forum that allowed network building and an exchange about their specific knowledge of the Sub-Saharan academic system. The project participants came together for five workshops in total, starting with the initial workshop in October 2016 and closing with the Information and Networking Event on 12 May 2017. This gave them the opportunity to exchange their experiences as internationally mobile young researchers and explore shared interests in topics such as academic resources, joint research, initiating research cooperation, career opportunities for African academics in Germany, preparing for the job market back home and higher education in Africa.
The closing event with the title "Doing research in Sub-Saharan Africa - Institutions, Projects and Challenges" was opened by the head of the Welcome Centre, Eleni Andrianopulu, with a short presentation on the goals and structure of the "Academics in..." series and the current "Academics in Sub-Saharan Africa" project. Following this, Dr. Kurt Salentin of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence (Institut für Konflikt- und Gewaltforschung, IKG) gave the attendees valuable insight into the dos and don'ts when submitting to a journal. After a short break, different research institutes in Botswana and Cameroon were introduced: the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis (Phemelo Tamasiga and Ashenafi Teshome), The African Institute for Mathematical Science (Guy Fabrice Foghem, Ghislain Herman Demeze Jouatsa) and the International Society of Linguistics as well as the Institute for Training and Demographic Research (Roland Lakyim via Skype from Cameroon). Afterwards Charbel Gauthé presented on the Alumni Netzwerk Subsahara Afrika (ANSA), a network of German and African students and young researchers who have spent some time in either Germany or Sub-Saharan Africa and have or had a DAAD-scholarship. Gilbert Monthiou followed via Skype from Cameroon with a presentation of the field research he undertook concerning career opportunities for PhD-returnees in Cameroon, talking to different institutions and people about the possibilities and difficulties academics from Sub-Saharan Africa face when returning back home after gaining their PhD in Germany.
To conclude the event, the Welcome Centre had invited two renowned professors whose daily work consists of working in international cooperation in the academic world in Germany and Africa: Prof. Dr. David Simo and Prof. Dr. Norbert Sewald joined the event to talk about how they perceive the challenges and opportunities of doing research in Sub-Saharan Africa. Here you find a summary of the discussion.
All in all, both the challenges and the opportunities of doing research in Sub-Saharan Africa that were identified in the closing event show how important cooperation is in general. And especially so between Sub-Saharan Africa and Germany since there is so much to be gained from it for both sides. Hopefully, "Academics in Sub-Saharan Africa" has its share in furthering network building and cooperation among young researchers from Sub-Saharan Africa and with academics from Bielefeld University respectively.