Intra-Africa Academic Mobility SchemeAcademic Mobility for African Sustainable Development/AMAS
Project Kick-off Meeting at European Commission,
EACEA, Brussels, Belgium (3rd Part)
Intra-Africa Kick-off Meeting and Partnership Meetings- Brussels (Belgium), 12-14 December 2016
The AMAS Project (The Academic Mobility for Africa’s Sustainable Development, Project which is described at detail in Project Documents and especially the Grant Agreement and the Memorandum of Understanding documents, kicked off formally with a meeting held to start off the Project at the European Commission’s (EC)’s EACEA (Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency) in Brussels, Belgium between 12th and 14th December 2016.
The AMAS project together with other 6 projects on Intra-Africa Academic mobility Scheme, are funded by the European Union and its agency- EACEA coordinates the activities of all the 7 projects that have just begun and will run for 5 years until 2021. Here are some highlights of key decisions made to start up the AMAS Project. More details of the meeting are available on the AMAS and EACEA websites.
The 14th December 2017 was dedicated to projects meetings and indeed the AMAS Project held a fruitful meeting to plan ahead its activities. The details of the plans are laid out in AMAS Project activities.
During the meeting, the AMAS Project teams comprised of the following;
Summary of key messages from EACEA
• Kenya, Morocco, Republic of South Africa and Ethiopia are African nations contributing the highest institutions funded under the Intra Africa Academic Mobility Scheme.
• The EU through the EACEA shall support the planning, management and Implementation of the funded projects in many ways including provision of technical, administrative and financial support.
• The EACEA shall utilize various ways to support the projects but shall also require maximum accountability and transparency from grants recipients, and the agency shall rely on timely and regularized reporting of project activities.
• The EACEA urged all the Projects to use the chance to make a difference, to exploit the opportunity to the fullest, to use the established links and networks and to tap on the available goodwill and support in many sanctioned ways.
• The seven grant winning projects were congratulated for winning the competitive grants and were invited to start up their planned project activities by EU and EACEA representatives led by Mr. Klaus Haupt, Head of the EACEA Unit.
During the meeting, the meeting objectives and the academic mobility objectives were presented and discussed. In addition, the grant winning selection process was presented and the projects including AMAS presented each their project summaries. Ms. Elif was assigned by EACEA to work with the AMAS Project throughout the project span.
Details of EU guidelines on the management and implementation of the project were presented and are available in three core documents;
1. The Call for Proposals document;
2. The Grant Agreement;
3. The implementation guidelines (to be finalized and circulated by the end of year 2016).
In addition to these three core documents, each project should develop their memorandum of understanding (MoU), to be signed by the legal entities (read the Vice Chancellors) of each participating university including the technical partner, and to be shared with EACEA. The AMAS project partners had already drafted an MoU and the draft was to be enhanced, signed and circulated as required.
The following messages formed the highlights of the EACEA presentations that were made during the kick off meeting and whose entire details are available on the EACEA website for reference;
• After signing the grant agreement, what followed was the kick-off meeting by all the stakeholders at EACEA in Brussels- 12th -14th December 2016.
• The kick-off meeting was to be followed with prudent implementation of the respective funded projects. For AMAS, plans for the implementation of the project were discussed and laid down on an autonomous AMAS meeting held on the 14th of December 2016.
• The purpose, scope, implementation and management cycle of each project are critical to the success of any project.
• Key to the success of any project are the important principles of co-operation, transparency, commitment and openness. There must be both vertical and horizontal levels of cooperation at each implementing PU and with EACEA.
• The selection procedure of beneficiaries should be open and publicized as much with visibility enhanced at all levels. This should enable a transparent and competitive selection process to reach high quality beneficiaries.
• There is call for quality assurance through monitoring and audit of all the project ctivities and processes both technical and financial. The AMAS proposal contains details of quality assurance plans that include M&E but in addition to these plans, EACEA will conduct scheduled audits. Peer inter-project M&E and audits were prescribed and encouraged.
• Great emphasis was put on prudent financial management of projects.
• In addition, there was call for timeliness and adherence to project timelines and furthermore for looking beyond the presently funded projects. Tis means initiating sustainability plans to see continuity of projects beyond the funded scope and timescales.
Envisioned challenges Implementing AMAS & Other Projects
The following aspects were identified as potential challenges to the success of projects;
Logistical handicaps as a result of different locations of PUs;
Recognition of study programs and credits across PU organs;
Reaching women to participate in the project;
Financial managements challenges including- money transfers, exchange rates, fluctuation, university accounting systems and beaucracies and red tape among other challenges;
Admissions and visa processes;
Language barriers and eligibility of beneficiaries
Many more challenges shall arise.
Despite the skeptism, participants felt that this was an opportunity in itself to prove that an intra-Africa academic mobility can work successfully. Opportunities were seen in the South to South co-orperation, envisioned internationalization, harmonization and cooperation in higher learning, the opportunity for higher learning by both men and women, among other opportunities.
In conclusion, the participants were thanked for winning the grants for their projects and in return the participants highly appreciated the EU for funding the seven projects and importantly the supportive role played by the EACEA to guarantee successful implementation of the seven projects. It was reiterated that to successfully implement the projects, each project must fall back to the call document, the grant agreement document, the respective project proposals and MoU and to the implementation guideline; to be availed in due course. Important tips including working with EACEA, mobility management, financial management, “how to succeed”, getting started, co-operation, visibility, selection criteria and EACEA Mobility tool (EMT) for reporting, among other topics, are available on the EACEA website in the presentation slides made by EACEA. The session ended with speed dating and closing remarks from the Unit Head- Mr. Klaus Haupt; “this was a great learning experience….read and use the 3 key documents…..we shall offer support at all times….we are ready to go!”
Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme
Academic Mobility for African Sustainable Development/AMAS
The overall objective of the Intra-Africa Academic Mobility programme is to promote sustainable development and ultimately contribute to poverty reduction by increasing the availability of trained and qualified high-level professional manpower in Africa.