During his visit in Oxford, Dr Manthi delivered a seminar of ‘Decolonising museums: an African perspective‘ at St Cross College.
Many African collections are currently housed in museums across Europe. However, currently many African museums are facing challenges in terms of space and resources. Dr Manthi talked about the need for capacity training, knowledge exchange between governments and museums curators and funding before the collections are returned to African countries.
You can hear Fredrick’s talk via this podcast.
Fredrick and Julia are currently working on a collaborative project on dietary transitions during evolution in Eastern Africa. More information on this project is available here.
There is a need to provide aspiring African researchers the necessary tools for development in the form of structured mentorship support and stimulating research challenges. Such support can best be provided to early postdoctoral researchers by well-resourced and established institutions. Africa accounts for 15-20% of the world’s population and a disproportionately large share of disease burden, yet scientific publications by African researchers account for less than 2% of the total academic journal output*. As a result, it is imperative to enable African researchers to enhance their competitiveness for international funding opportunities early in their careers while retaining them in Africa, working on Africa’s health challenges and priorities.
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Rethinking African Paths to Industrial Development (RAPID) is dedicated to reframing the way governments, development institutions, businesspeople and the general public think about industrialisation. Project Website
The broad aim of the workshop was to provide a platform for early career scholars and postdocs to interact with each other and academics in their field. It brought together 50 participants from Zimbabwe (University of Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University, and Midlands State University) and 7 academics from the University of Oxford including Miles Tendi, Simukai Chigudu and Dan Hodgkinson. The workshop organisers were Prof. Ushehwedu Kufakurinani and Prof. Jocelyn Alexander.
The organisers, detailing the success of this workshop as a capacity and relationship building collaboration, stated:
“At policy level, the workshop was an essential building block in the strategic goals of the university in capacity building and the forging of synergies to enhance academic excellence. The Oxford delegation led the morning session and outlined the wide range of opportunities for study at Oxford University and the rigors of the application process. Our local students were indeed inspired by the fact that the visiting delegation had three Zimbabwean nationals (two scholars and one student).
The mid-morning and afternoon sessions were devoted to two key elements of scholarship namely the essentials of publishing in peer reviewed academic journals and the possibilities of joint research projects. The Oxford team gave advice from their experience as board members of the Journal of Southern African Studies, one of the best area studies journals in Africa. The delegates then broke into smaller groups led by senior scholars where ideas were shared on research experiences and how to improve research and writing in younger scholars. The group discussions were the major highlight of the day because younger scholars were afforded the opportunity ask pertinent questions about research and writing. A number of areas of common interest emerged that may possibly result in collaborative work in future.”
Several areas of common interest emerged from the workshop and the organisers hope that these may possibly result in more collaborative work in the future.
The Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project, supported by the UK’s Newton Fund through the University of Namibia (UNAM) and Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), recently concluded their two week Radio Astronomy training programme.
Dr Michael Backes, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Physics at the University of Namibia explained that the SKA radio astronomy project is one of the biggest astronomical projects in the world. “The first phase of the SKA project is to build telescope dishes all over South Africa, and the second phase is to go across the borders and build dishes in the African partnering countries” he said, “From the experience in South Africa, we are aware that it takes roughly 10 years to build a human capacity base needed for the project, and this workshop is part early on capacity building, needed for SKA phase two, which is expected to start in roughly ten years from now”.
The participants of the two weeks training programme were graduates and postgraduate students in physics, electronics engineering, and computer science from BIUST, Namibia University of Science and Technology, University of Botswana and UNAM. The training was conducted by Professor Garret Cotter from the University of Oxford, supported by two of his PhD students. The Namibian and Botswanan students will be invited to South Africa for a 4 week hands-on training at the Hartebeesthoek Radio Astronomy Observatory before taking a 2 week training in data analysis conducted in Botswana.
Collaborators: National Environment Management Authority Uganda (NEMA), Nature Uganda, International Institute of Environment & Development (IIED), Wild Business Ltd & Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Uganda
Governments, financial institutions and businesses worldwide are adopting No Net Loss (NNL) targets for biodiversity, and using offsetting to achieve this. Biodiversity offsets offer the potential to reconcile the objectives of conservation and development through compensating for residual biodiversity impacts after the mitigation hierarchy has been implemented (avoid, minimise, restore/rehabilitate, offset). Moreover, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) highlighted how offsets can help Parties to achieve conservation goals.
The technical challenges of NNL are widely explored from an ecological perspective within academic literature. However, while international good practice guidance calls for offsets not to make local people worse off, there is a fundamental lack of understanding of how to achieve NNL with regard to people’s use of, and cultural values for, biodiversity, and the social, economic and ecological trade-offs involved.
This is a major challenge for countries where poor people depend on natural resources, where poorly planned offsets can exacerbate local poverty, and where impacts vary by gender and livelihood.
Using the Bujagali and Isimba Hydropower Projects and the Kalagala Offset in Uganda, this work seeks to explore ways in which development and offset activities can result in no net loss of biodiversity while at the same time ensure that local people are no worse off.
The World Bank-funded Bujagali Hydropower Project (BHP) was completed in 2012, with a sustainable management plan developed for its offset (Kalagala) to address biodiversity and human impacts. The area has high cultural, livelihood and biodiversity value.
The Isimba Hydropower Project (IHP) is being constructed downstream of BHP (planned completion in 2018) and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of IHP and its effects on the Kalagala Offset is now being undertaken.
NEMA, the responsible Government agency, and Nature Uganda, a leading conservation NGO, have identified an urgent need to understand how the Isimba project may affect the Kalagala offset while they can influence its implementation, and for general guidance on monitoring and mitigating social and ecological impacts of offsetting in Uganda.
This project will work at a local, national and international level, supporting governments, NGOs and business to integrate local poverty alleviation, equity and cultural heritage into biodiversity offsets for national economic development. From research on the biggest hydropower/offset in Uganda, it will produce, and support implementation of, local and national policy guidance for Uganda, and generate lessons internationally.
Multi-chemistry battery pack using second life batteries for off-grid systems in developing countriesA team led by Oxford’s Professor David Howey has been working to develop battery technology for off-grid solar energy systems. Using previously discarded lithium-ion batteries, they hope to provide round-the-clock access to affordable power for rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. An important part of the innovation is the modularity of the battery units. This allows individual cells to be replaced when they die, resulting in a robust and maintainable battery pack – ideal for the harsh conditions of sub-Saharan countries. This modularity also means that the user can easily add additional battery units as their energy demand increases.
The work, partially supported by EPSRC and HEFCE funding, is being realised through a strong partnership with INTASAVE – a globally operating not-for-profit organisation who are implementing the provision of solar hubs in selected villages in Kenya.