Skip to content

Deepened collaborations in Africa

At a meeting in Botswana, I saw how universities worldwide share the same driving force: to deliver solutions for their students and for the future – whether it’s on one of our campuses or in the canteen at Botho University, which focuses on IT.

Over an intensive week, I and three colleagues visited Tanzania, Kenya and Botswana. Our aim was to deepen, expand and increase the pace of our collaboration with the three selected institutions.

Global relations are an integrated part of a university like KTH. We have a long tradition of collaborating with different countries in Africa. I personally had a Sida-backed capacity building project with the University of Dar es Salaam between 1998 and 2008. The result was that several masters students, doctoral candidates, postdocs and researchers came and worked with my research group for a short or long period. The focus in that project was on biofibre from agricultural waste, including coconut fibre, cashew shells and more, which was used to make materials for building products, for instance. Consequently, there are now several KTH alumni working in Tanzania or elsewhere around the world.

A lot of people in a meeting.
Visiting University of Dar el Salaam in Tanzania. (Photo: Erika Svensson Rössner)

The Global Development Hub (GDH), which started up in 2017, trains teachers from KTH and our African partners in Challenge Driven Education, or CDE. There are genuine – not theoretical – challenges and problems to be dealt with and solved in reality. The GDH is an education and innovation centre in global sustainable development, and works closely with various universities in Sub-Saharan Africa. KTH is now continuing to deepen the collaboration; for instance, an innovation section will be linked, assisted by KTH Innovation. More innovation that leads to new enterprise is needed in many parts of the countries with which we collaborate. Africa is the continent of the future, and in the near future the majority of the world’s young people will be there.

The exchange with the African continent is particularly relevant to sustainable development and the climate threat, and especially when it comes to gender equality and values. The nations we visited showed great interest in KTH’s work on gender equality. A delegation from Rwanda visited KTH last week, and I have been asked to discuss gender equality in more detail with the Rwandan Ambassador in Stockholm. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to visit Rwanda this time around.

A lot of people gathering.
At a meeting at University of Botho in Botswana. (Photo: Erika Svensson Rössner)

The GDH has developed, and KTH now needs to take the next step. Exchanges with Africa give KTH students and staff an understanding of differences in how people live. They also afford the students and researchers who take part in them a better understanding of the wider world, and how solutions need to be designed to help achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals – solutions that may not look exactly the same in Sweden as in, say, Botswana.