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Monday 15 January 13:53

SWEAFUN: Progress since the November workshop in Kigali

News: Jun 22, 2023

SWEAFUN, the Sweden-East Africa University Network, is now halfway through its three-year project, and a significant milestone was achieved with the workshop held in Kigali on 14-17 November 2022. This gathering of university leaders and researchers from 11 universities across East Africa and West Sweden has set the stage for enhanced collaboration and sustainable development in strategic areas.

SWEAFUN is a unique cross-regional academic initiative coordinated by Global Sustainable Futures (GSF) to build new equitable partnerships with sustainability as a common goal. The workshop in Kigali in November marked a significant milestone in the project's progress. The workshop was co-hosted by Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Rwanda and included nine universities from East Africa and two from Sweden. The workshop has served as a stepping stone for SWEAFUN to strengthen its network and expand its collaborative efforts.

“What makes this initiative unique are the bottom-up efforts at the core which in turn need to be anchored in top-down strategies, for achieving truly sustainable collaboration and partnerships,” says Project Manager Daniela Michael, who has driven and developed this project from the start in 2019.

Read more about SWEAFUN in the Annual Report 2022

The work in SWEAFUN is strategically chosen to contribute to achieving Agenda 2030. Currently there is active exchange in six thematic areas: Air Quality, Data Driven ICT, Food and Nutritional Health, Sustainable Energy Innovations, Fresh Water Quality, and Sustainable Transport. However, the collaboration made broaden to include additional themes and interdisciplinary approaches of mutual interest to participating universities.

Since the workshop in November, the thematic working groups have continued their collaborative efforts, submitting research applications and expanding their networks. GSF plays a vital role in facilitating and supporting these activities and ensures the coordination of efforts, identifies funding opportunities, and coordinates trans-thematic discussions, contributing to the overall strengthening of the network.

“The trans-thematic considerations and innovative approaches to utilisation, as well as real-world applications and solutions, means a great potential for the collaboration to actually contribute towards Agenda 2030,” Daniela continues.

The SWEAFUN project management also focuses on other keys to strengthening the joint collaborative efforts, including organisational aspects such as ensuring appointments of thematic team leads, university coordinators, and the Scientific Advisory Committee, and securing funding for core activities beyond 2024.

“After the workshop in Kigali, activities in SWEAFUN’s thematic groups keep thriving. The Vice Chancellors show eagerness and commitment as well. I think SWEAFUN is making great progress, which is really encouraging. We hope the exchange between West Sweden and East Africa will continue to grow and, in the long run, lead to utilisation and societal impact,” says Magdalena Eriksson, Director of GSF.

The progress of SWEAFUN is closely followed by university leaders from East Africa and West Sweden. Their support and involvement aim to enable the jointly developed strategic roadmap, which encompasses transformational changes, preferred activities, and milestones. The roadmap, coupled with the signed Memorandum of Understanding, embody the shared vision and goals of the network, providing a robust framework for sustained collaboration and long-term impact.

The forthcoming workshop report, scheduled for publication in August, will dig into the background, planning, and lessons learnt from the Kigali workshop. It will provide valuable insights into the initiative's unique approach and highlight the outcomes achieved thus far.

As SWEAFUN continues to strengthen its network and expand collaborative efforts, it serves as an inspiring model for universities and institutions worldwide, demonstrating the importance of bottom-up-driven and top-down-anchored cross-regional academic partnerships in tackling global challenges.

FACTS

SWEAFUN is a strategic joint initiative between Chalmers University of Technology and partner universities in East Africa, led by Global Sustainable Futures and funded by STINT (The Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education). The initiative provides the opportunity to bring together researchers, teachers, and management of the partner universities to build new equitable partnerships with sustainability as a common goal. Activities in the SWEAFUN initiative will strengthen, and be coordinated with, already ongoing exchange activities with East Africa.

These universities have currently signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU):
• Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia)
• Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden)
• Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique)
• Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (Kenya)
• Makerere University (Uganda)
• Mbarara University of Science and Technology (Uganda)
• Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (Tanzania)
• Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania)
• University of Nairobi (Kenya)
• University of Gothenburg (Sweden)
• University of Rwanda (Rwanda)

The MoU is signed by Vice Chancellors (or their delegated representatives) and is open to any discipline and field of mutual interest. It paves the way for joint research activities, teaching and training programs, faculty and student exchanges, utilisation of research results, and participation in academic gatherings, all aligned with the United Nations’ Agenda 2030.

If you are interested in any of these thematic areas and collaborating with East African partners, please contact project manager Daniela Michael (daniela.michael@chalmers.se) to get in contact with the thematic working groups.
 

BY: Nina Silow

Page Manager: Webbredaktionen|Last update: 3/3/2023
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