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AAP Progress Report: Our 2017 Achievements and Plans for 2018

Published: Friday, 02 Mar 2018
Author: Rachel Warner
Department: Office of the Dean

In May 2016, MSU faculty and administrators, along with 14 African thought leaders representing a range of African organizations, initiated the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP). AAP's purpose is to promote sustainable, effective and equitable long-term partnerships among African organizations, MSU and other international organizations to address mutually defined challenges across a range of thematic issues including: the transformation of agri-food systems; water, energy and the environment; youth empowerment; education; culture; and health and nutrition. A key goal of AAP is to position MSU and its collaborating institutions to carry out world class research and scholarship aimed at solving some of the most pressing global problems. Toward this end, the AAP initiated activities in 2017 under three broad categories: (1) creating and refining the AAP Partnership Model; (2) building relationships and awareness about AAP; and (3) initiation of AAP programs.

Creation of the AAP Partnership Model: 

  • Management engaged the support of prominent African collaborators to prepare an acclaimed thought piece in 2017, Rethinking African Partnerships for Global Solutions, which lays out the tenets of the AAP Partnership Model and why it is likely to promote the interdependent interests of MSU, African universities, development organizations and funding partners. 
  • The AAP formed the AAP Secretariat in Africa and appointed Dr. Richard Mkandawire as its director in February 2017.  Based in Lilongwe, Malawi, Mkandawire has assisted AAP management in mobilizing support of African partner institutions and organizations in line with the AAP pillars and themes, integrating AAP activities into the programs and activities of these African partner institutions and organizations; and mobilizing external grant support for AAP activities. 
  • In collaboration with the AAP Advisory Board, African partners, and MSU leadership, AAP management is in the process of co-creating a governance structure to guide the future decision-making framework of the AAP.
  • Management has prepared a draft strategic plan to guide the future direction and activities of the AAP.

Building relationships and awareness:

Management conducted various activities in 2017 devoted to co-creating the AAP, building a solid network of relationships to provide a foundation for future partnerships, and disseminating awareness of the AAP Partnership model and principles.

  • The official launch of the AAP was in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in July 2017. The event was attended by roughly 250 representatives of African organizations and 40 MSU faculty, administrators, including the Provost and several deans.
  • Management organized two Town Hall meetings on campus in 2017 designed to co-create the AAP vision with MSU faculty and obtain guidance on its activities and governance.
  • At the invitations of the Alliance for a Green Revolution Forum, the AAP organized a session at the African Green Revolution Forum meeting in September 2017 to lay out the AAP Partnership model and explore potential strategic partnerships with African universities and pan-African organizations in the area of agri-food systems development.
  • Nine South African cultural heritage workers visited MSU from September 11-13, 2017, as part of the MSU Museum and Stellenbosch University Museum's "Ubuntu: Museum and Communities Connect" project, funded by AAP. Following their visit to MSU, the team also met with museum leaders in Detroit, Washington, DC, and New York to share ideas and to develop new opportunities for collaboration.
  • AAP organized a session at the World Food Prize event to raise awareness about the AAP Partnership model and showcase AAP grantee projects in the area of agri-food systems, energy and the environment.
  • The AAP was invited to make presentations on its vision and activities at the 4th Annual RENAPRI Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, November 30-December 1, 2017.
  • AAP has organized and/or participated in several high-level events in Africa where AAP grantees and team members have been featured speakers, have organized AAP side events at conferences to generate wider awareness of AAP's activities, hosted receptions for our alumni, partners, donors and friends.  AAP news and updates are shared through our website and newsletter. 
  • AAP coordinated a visit by a high-level leadership delegation from Malawi University of Scence and Technology to MSU as well as engagement with heads of Malian universities and the Malian Ministry of Education around the country's current higher education transformation project.
  • AAP is building an innovative digital "portal" to serve as a networking and information platform at the intersection of cutting-edge partnership for research, policy and impact. The portal is due to roll out by mid-2018.

AAP Programs:

  • The AAP initiated its grantee program in early 2017, awarding 15 proposals. The proposals were selected from more than 60 responses to the AAP's inaugural call for proposals. The grants were awarded to proposals that exemplified the AAP mission of effecting positive change in Africa through meaningful, equitable partnerships. All proposals are led by teams that include both MSU faculty and partners from African organizations and have the potential to create or build on long-term, sustainable collaborations. Through its relationship-building and awareness raising activities described above, the AAP has sought to build a coalition of support among African development organizations to raise the likelihood that AAP grantees will obtain longer-term external funding support.
  • AAP organized a grant management workshop to support MSU faculty and African organizations in their administration of these grants. AAP has planned additional activities for 2018 to help grantees link to external funding opportunities to support long-term research partnerships.
  • AAP has been invited by the City of Tshwane, South Africa, to take a leading role in the its "Sister Cities Initiative."  AAP is promoting the engagement of MSU faculty in the assembly of research and outreach teams involving researchers from African universities and institutes to forge new research and outreach programs connecting these international sister cities.
  • At the invitation of Egerton University, MSU has participated in a winning proposal under the World Bank's Agricultural Centers of Excellence Program.  MSU and Egerton have spent several months working out the details of this collaboration, with MSU faculty visiting Egerton and the Egerton University vice chancellor visiting MSU.
  • The AAP, in partnership with other MSU units and universities in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda were awarded a U.S. Department of State Professional Fellows Program grant focused on supporting women and leadership in agribusiness.

The activities planned for 2018 will focus on supporting the external funding plans of the 15 AAP grant awardees; creating a new AAP Fellows Program to support additional long-term research partnerships between African and MSU faculty; operationalizing the AAP Portal; and creating interest among external funding partners in the activities currently being supported by AAP activities.  The AAP Secretariat will be expanded to include a West Africa node.  Several AAP events are being organized in 2018 to build bridges with new African organizations and potential funding partners to provide a foundation for MSU and African researchers to attract resources to support new collaborations.