About Strengthening Agricultural Higher Education in Africa

The Strengthening Higher Agricultural Education in Africa (SHAEA) Project is a five-year regional initiative that is being developed by the World Bank in partnership with African governments and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). The initiative builds on Africa’s efforts to stimulate agri-food system transformation in support of the Malabo Declaration and the CAADP. Specifically, SHAEAs Project development objective is to “strengthen linkages between selected African universities and regional agricultural sector needs for developing required human resources to accelerate agri-food system transformation in Africa” and to work in seven countries across the continent. The Project design is based on broad consultations with all keys stakeholders, and the needs of African governments and is currently being refined. The World Bank has worked with RUFORUM to consult on the design of the SHAEA Project which will support development of regional ‘Anchor’ universities (RAU)s to prepare the skills and capacity, including for agricultural advisory services, to transform African agriculture and national economies and to embrace systemic change that addresses the chronic lack of relevant, high-level skills

RUFORUM is an African initiated and African owned network of 85 universities in 36 countries.  It is a very active network with strong engagement of the Vice-chancellors who pay their own costs to attend annual meetings; and attendance is high, giving RUFORUM a strong convening platform.  The Network programs are focused on agriculture and rural development, but their impact has been felt across the universities and has strengthened their mutual co-operation. RUFORUM has many examples of success. RUFORUM’s work has demonstrated that coordinated efforts around an African owned strategy for building university capacity for high level skills development can yield great returns with potential to impact at scale. RUFORUM can facilitate pilot initiatives and then scale these out across Africa.

The current proposed seven target countries for SHAEA are Benin, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique.

The Project will build on good practices and lessons learned from existing initiatives carried out by countries and development partners, including those from RUFORUM in catalysing university transformation and engagement with communities and take this to scale. RUFORUM is also proposed to play the role of the regional facilitating unit (RFU) for the Project (which will be vetted by the soon to be formed Regional Steering Committee of the SHAEA project). The RFU will have responsibility for coordinating and facilitating regional activities for the RAUs and partner institutions and to ensure monitoring, evaluation and learning for the Project.

The Regional Steering Committee will comprise representative from all the participating countries and other members. Its main tasks are to set project preparation and implementation guidelines, review results and progress, oversee the RFU and steer RAUs to ensure the achievement of the project objectives.

The SHAEA Project is being initiated “to strengthen African agricultural faculties and universities to develop the human capital and the agricultural research programs needed to stimulate agricultural transformation across Africa.” In particular, the anticipated outcomes include:

  • Selected lead universities will be anchors for developing strong internationally recognised faculties that will implement the cross-cutting themes identified as core gap areas across the continent: agribusiness and entrepreneurship, agri-food systems and nutrition, rural innovations and agricultural extension,  agricultural risk management and climate change proofing, agricultural policy analysis, agricultural policy analysis, and statistical analysis, foresight, and data management;   
  • The selected anchors actively engaged in strong partnership networks with agricultural universities across the Continent;
  • Universities establishing active platforms for engagement with rural communities, the private sector and that are well integrated into the national policy environment;
  • Universities training graduates that are capable, creative and committed to making a difference;
  • Universities producing research that is driven by demand from smallholder farmers and related agri-businesses; and
  • Universities well integrated their national agri-food systems and playing an active role in the national and regional policy agenda.