July 27, 2021 (Khartoum, Sudan): The Division of Social Development of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), in partnership with the University of Khartoum, Republic of Sudan, conducted a two-day consultative meeting of the Board of ICHE, on 26-27 July 2021, at the University of Khartoum, Sudan. The objectives of this meeting included, among others, to:
- Familiarize the Board with the Statue of the ICHE;
- Discuss on research networks and generate recommendations for inter-university cooperation within IGAD member states;
- Identify existing and emerging thematic areas disciplinary clusters;
- Adopt the Board’s Action Plan for the next two years;
- Identify potential donors/funding partners to support the work of ICHE and
- Assign Focal Points in each Board Member University to coordinate the activities of the Board in collaboration with the IGAD Secretariat.
This high level meeting of the Board of ICHE was attended by Vice Chancellors, Presidents, Deputy Vice Chancellors/Presidents from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), Jigjiga University (Ethiopia), University of Nairobi (Kenya), University of Juba (South Sudan), International University of Africa (Sudan), University of Khartoum (Sudan), Ahfad University for Women (Sudan) and Makerere University (Uganda). The meeting was also attended by staff from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Sudan as well as staff from the IGAD Secretariat.
Speaking at the opening session of the Board meeting, H.E. Professor Intisar Soghayroun, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Government of Sudan, welcomed the distinguished delegates, extended appreciations to IGAD for creating such a regional platform which emanated from the IGAD Education Policy Framework adopted in 2018 and for establishing the IGAD Council of Higher Education (ICHE). She also commended IGAD for its effort to integrate the region through Higher Education.
She added that, “It is doubtful that we can achieve neither African Agenda 2063 … nor UN SDGs without strong higher education”. Finally, Professor Intisar stressed that, using education as a tool for regional integration, “We need to think about wider partnership:
- For green transition energy access;
- Digital transformation;
- Sustainable growth and jobs;
- Peace and governance;
- Migration and mobility.
Professor Fadwa Taha, the Vice Chancellor of University of Khartoum and Current Chairperson of the Board of ICHE, extended warm welcome to her fellow board members and all participants. She said she was delighted both to be the Chair of the First Board and to host this important meeting. Prof Fadwa guided the deliberations successfully with remarkable hospitality and punctuality.
The Acting Director of Social Development, Dr. Mohamed Elduma, also welcomed the participants and give overviews on the background and context that led to the establishment of the IGAD Council of Higher Education.
The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sudan, Ms Asrar Ahmed also delivered welcoming remarks.
At the end of the two days thorough deliberations the Board members appreciated the importance of ICHE and opportunities of having a regional platform for higher education in sharing best practices, enhancing regional integration and cooperation between universities in both in the public and private sectors.
The Board members also recommended the grouping of IGAD universities into five thematic clusters or networks to identify and strengthen centers of excellence in each cluster/disciplines with the view to enable universities to solve problems facing the region. They also adopted the Board’s Plan of Action for the next two years (August 2021 to Jul 2023). The plan included, among others, organizing a high level regional conference of IGAD ministers in charge of higher education.