International research cooperation: ‘Long-term and short-term training options strengthen Ethiopia’s scientific community’
There has been very extensive scientific capacity building – from lecture halls to laboratories – in Ethiopia and other sub-Saharan countries over the past few years. International research partnerships and scientific networks are promoting these developments. Humboldt alumna Tiegist Abebe is optimistic that this will have a sustainable impact on her home country.
Geneticist Tiegist Abebe from Addis Abeba spent eight years working in various positions in Germany. She is familiar with Germany’s education system and is amazed at the huge developments that have occurred in the field of science and research in her home country Ethiopia. A series of research partnerships and scientific programmes with Germany are also being initiated and continually extended. The research institutes and universities involved and of course the academics themselves are thus building stable bridges between the two countries.
Scientific bridges between Ethiopia and Germany
Dr Tiegist Abebe is one of these academics. In 2005, after her studies in genetics at the University of Alemaya, she received a grant from the Catholic Academic Exchange Service (KAAD) and studied plant breeding and genetics at the University of Bonn up until March 2010. ‘After completing my PhD, I was awarded the Georg Forster Research Fellowship for postdoctoral researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH). I have been an AvH fellow till March 2013 at the University of Bonn.’ Since then, Dr Tiegist Abebe has been a postdoctoral student at the Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES) and is convinced that long-term and short-term training options within the scope of research partnerships with Germany are strengthening Ethiopia’s scientific community.
Research cooperation with a sustainable impact
In addition to Ethiopia, Kenya is another sub-Saharan African country that is greatly increasing its university and research capacity and stepping up its research partnerships with Germany. The number of Ethiopian academics who have received a research grant from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has risen considerably over the past few years. In 2011, Humboldt alumni teamed up with researchers from other African countries in Addis Abeba to set up the African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES). Academics from the region aim to cooperate more closely with one another and with their colleagues in Germany and to attract junior academics for new research partnerships.
As part of the German-South African Year of Science, the Humboldt Foundation has set up the Neville Alexander Memorial Fund with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). AGNES was thus extended, and among other things 15 junior researchers have been awarded prize money. Further prizes have been awarded for innovative network ideas within the Humboldt network.
High expectations of research cooperation
Sustainable development in Africa depends not least on the success of joint efforts focusing on the health, agricultural development and education sectors. Academic expertise and exchange are called for here. In addition to long-term and short-term training options, Tiegist Abebe also has other expectations of future research partnerships with Germany that go beyond her personal area of research: ‘I expect various impacts, such as the establishment of the basic laboratory and training for junior researchers and women. Young researchers rarely get opportunities for such trainings in Ethiopia. And I expect innovative research projects in cooperation with host universities from Germany will be implemented.’
Dr Abebe is primarily concerned with sustainable impacts. She believes that academic networks such as the Humboldt Foundation’s alumni network support this through cross-border exchange. Cooperation on projects that are relevant to both countries provide a particularly good opportunity, with suitable projects ranging from climate change and joint studies connected with food security, health, education, agricultural development and capacity building.
Discussion about international research cooperation in the Community
Which of the broad range of international exchange initiatives connected with cross-border research partnerships are you aware of? Have you already taken part in research projects? Or are you looking for one? Tell us about the kind of experience you have had with international research cooperation in the Community group on Studies and Research (‘Studium und Forschung’).
Further information on this topic on the Alumniportal: