Impressions of the 1st General Assembly of Africa-UniNet

12. February 2020
Group of People posing in front of a building for a group picture
The kick-off meeting and first General Assembly of the Austrian-African Research Network | Africa-UniNet took place from 30th - 31st of January 2020 at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna. During the meeting the network was officially inaugurated and the work programme with first activities specified.

Africa-UniNet was established in order to create a long-term and stable basis for cooperation between Austrian and African universities and research institutions. While the network was initiated by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF), the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD-GmbH) and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) were asked to launch it and therefore to prepare the first General Assembly.

63 African and 19 Austrian universities and research institutions participated in the meeting. All of them were accepted as official members by Univ.-Prof. Hubert Hasenauer, Rector of BOKU and first President of the Africa-UniNet. Once the network was constituted, the General Assembly discussed the statutes, the general and legal framework of the research network, and elected its country coordinators.

In the evening of the first day, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research invited the Africa-UniNet members to a festive reception, during which the representatives of the various institutions from Austria and 20 different African countries had the chance to become familiar with each other and to discuss future collaborations after a cordial welcome address by the Federal Minister Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heinz Faßmann.

The second day of the meeting started with the election of the Africa-UniNet Board. 3 African and 3 Austrian members, among them 4 women, with notable experience and know-how were elected: Prof. Nzula Kitaka (Egerton University, Kenya), Dr. Zena M. Mabeyo (Institute of Social Work, Tanzania), Prof. Christian Anieke (Godfrey Okoye University, Nigeria), Prof. Dr. Belachew Gebrewold (Management Center Innsbruck), Univ.-Prof. Dr. Anke Bockreis (University of Innsbruck) and Univ.-Prof. Hubert Hasenauer (BOKU, Vienna).

Subsequently the Vice-President, Prof. Nzula Kitaka, was introduced by President Hasenauer and acknowledged by the Board. The common vision and mission as well as the first activities of the network were discussed and specified with the first call for international cooperation projects envisaged to be opened in July 2020.

The day was concluded with the joint celebration of the BOKU ball in the Hofburg Palace, to which the newly elected Africa-UniNet Board members were invited as guests of honor.