RUFORUM Strengthens Partnerships with Finland, Norway and Sweden
A three person team from the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) visited Finland, Norway, and Sweden from 9-18 November, 2015 to strengthen existing, and explore new partnerships in the Nordic region as part of implementation of the RUFORUM new Strategic Business Plan (2015-2020). The team was composed of: 1) Ms. Catherine Mloza Banda, a recent RUFORUM Graduate and staff of Farm Radio, Malawi; 2) Dr. Leif Christoffersen, a member of RUFORUM International Advisory Panel; and 3) Dr. Moses Osiru, RUFORUM Deputy Executive Secretary.
The RUFORUM Technical Committee was involved in planning and scheduling the trip whose main objectives were to: a) increase awareness of RUFORUM in the Nordic countries and particularly among the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, and universities; b) explore partnerships with Nordic (Finland, Norway, Sweden) development and higher education institutions towards the strengthening of capacities of African universities, particularly the newer universities; c) identify partnerships for responding to opportunities such as the ERASMUS + Call for Proposals and other relevant Calls for Proposals and d) identify areas of alignment and future engagement between the Nordic countries and RUFORUM member universities for strengthening higher education in Africa.
The trip included three days in each of the three countries where discussions were held with relevant ministries, particularly the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, units responsible for internationalization of higher education and universities. In addition, Dr. Osiru and the team delivered a number of seminars, including at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden based on lessons from the RUFORUM Network on how Universities can effectively support sustainable and inclusive development in Africa’s rural communities.
The trip builds on previous collaboration with Nordic and other northern universities including through the European Alliance on Agricultural Knowledge for Development, AGRINATURA in the establishment and running of MSc and PhD programs at African universities and related research and training. The Nordic countries have established and successfully implemented programmes and projects in capacity building with RUFORUM member universities and these efforts are greatly appreciated. The RUFORUM Network welcomes and will continue to engage and focus on contributing to the Nordic countries strategic development agenda at global, regional and national levels. From the trip, the RUFORUM team (a) noted the already existing collaborations and partnerships in focus countries that provide a leverage point for building and deepening capacity building efforts; (b) appreciated the innovative approaches such as governance and institutional arrangements for driving innovation and enterprise development (b) identified and will make effort to follow up on potential opportunities for collaborative engagements with a couple of institutions.
RUFORUM takes this opportunity to thank all partners and others who facilitated the trip.
 The RUFORUM is a Network of 55 Member Universities and its Strategic Business Plan 2015-2020 combines Business and Strategy to guide network operations for growth and consolidation over the next five years. The Plan was approved on 29 August, 2015 by the RUFORUM Annual General Meeting in Windhoek, Namibia.