The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has signed new agreements with four premier African universities to propel their research and PhD programs in applied sciences and technology. The agreements were announced at a workshop organized by KIST in collaboration with the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), which is led by African governments and facilitated by the World Bank.
The universities were competitively selected by PASET’s Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), which aims to create a critical mass of highly-skilled African scientists and innovators. They are affiliated with the Africa Centers of Excellence (ACE) Project, which is financed by the World Bank and implemented by national governments and universities in 46 African institutions. The ACE Project aims to build African research expertise in areas ranging from phytochemicals and textiles to water, agribusiness and renewable energy. The universities include:
- University Félix Houphouët-Boigny (Cote d’Ivoire) – ACE for Climate Change Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture – CCBAD (RSIF focus is food security)
- African University of Science &Technology (Nigeria) – Pan African Materials Institute -PAMI (RSIF focus is Materials, minerals and mining engineering)
- Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania) – ACE for Infectious Diseases of Humans & Animals in Southern & Eastern Africa – SACIDS (RSIF focus is Food Security)
- University of Gaston Berger (Senegal) – ACE for Mathematics, Computer Science and ICT – MITIC (RSIF focus is ICT)
Professor Aminata Sall Diallo, executive director of PASET’s Executive Committee, thanked KIST for generously hosting the African institutions at the workshop.
“KIST embodies a powerful benchmark to look up to for our member institutions, both in terms of research excellence and strengthening national economies. This workshop lays the basis for exactly the kind of partnerships PASET is trying to forge between African universities and other world-class research institutions like KIST,” she said.
The agreements follow a November 2016 memorandum of understanding between KIST and PASET. The memorandum promised support for a “sandwich program” for the RSIF scholars, which is a partnership that will allow them to conduct part of their research at KIST, and other activities such as curriculum improvement, faculty exchange/training, and research collaboration with the host institutions. The details of the sandwich program will be a key element of the new agreements.
In addition to the agreements, the workshop showcased how KIST contributed to advancing the Korean economy by becoming its leading research institute in science and technology. Participants also explored other opportunities for collaborations with African universities to help them advance their research programs.
KIST President Dr. Byung Gwon Lee said: “We hope that this workshop will promote joint research and human resource exchanges between KIST and the participating universities. We benefitted from a vibrant discussion that helped participants obtain data and information on the Sandwich program, potential joint research areas, and forge agreements on collaboration.”
In addition to KIST’s faculty and representatives, workshop participants included members of PASET’s Executive Committee, Consultative Advisory Group, and World Bank staff.
The lectures and seminars took place at KIST Headquarters in Seoul and Gangneung. The workshop included laboratory tours and study visits to the Korea Development Institute, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, and Pangyo Techno-Valley (Geyongi Province).
PASET works to strengthen science, and technology capability for the socio-economic development of Sub-Saharan Africa. It convenes African governments with the private sector, as well as new partners who are investing heavily in Africa, such as Korea, Brazil, China and India, to jointly build human the region’s human capital.
PASET’s Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) was initiated in 2015 to help train thousands of PhDs across Africa.