The Technical University of Munich (TUM) has launched an Africa initiative. In addition to collaboration in individual projects, in the future long-term partnerships in the key areas teaching, research and entrepreneurship will be actively promoted, with the efforts coordinated at TUM in a cross-faculty Africa network. The objective is to work together with partners on location using new methods and adapted technologies to set examples in terms of promoting the sustainable development of the continent. One initial focus area is Ghana, where TUM is actively involved in the university KNUST. Shortly before the EU-Africa summit, TUM presented its initiative to the public at the inaugural symposium "Sustainable Development in Africa".
Countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia and Tanzania are among the world's fastest growing national economies. According to estimates by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, by 2035 Africa will be home to the world's largest potential workforce. This means that strong African educational, research and innovation systems will play a decisive role in Africa's global development.
"As a leading Technical University we bear a responsibility for the development needs of the African continent. It represents an enormous potential, still frequently underestimated, for which we want to prepare the young academic generation," says TUM President Prof. Wolfgang A. Herrmann, adding, "The TUM brand stands globally for excellent research and teaching and for a fertile entrepreneurial ecosystem which facilitates the transfer of technological innovations to society. And these are precisely the strategic priorities we have to address in order to leverage the great potential of Africa and of the young people there."
Africa as a strategic objective
TUM maintains research sites and facilities on several continents. Opened in Singapore in 2002, TUM Asia made TUM the first German University to have its own branch campus in a foreign country. TUM is now using the wealth of international experience it has gained for the new strategic goal Africa, in order to geographically and thematically structure the efforts there. This will involve formation of partnerships which will be transferrable to other initiatives. The first example is the partnership for innovation and sustainable development recently concluded with the Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). The initiatives are flanked at TUM by a cross-faculty Africa network. Formats such as the convocation of a "TUM.Africa Roundtable", working meetings with players at the federal and Bavarian levels and the regularly appearing "TUM.Africa Newsletter" will promote the exchange of best practices, including transcultural entrepreneurial activities.
Represented in 20 African countries
Today there are already a total of 140 projects and exchange agreements between TUM and institutions in 20 African countries. Led by the Chair of Land Management, for example the "ADLAND"-consortium is working on responsible and intelligent land management concepts and their practical application. Together with several partners in Africa, a team of TUM experts has also developed the off-road capable electric utility vehicle "aCar", intended to make people in isolated rural regions of Africa mobile and provide them with better access to health care, educational institutions and business activities. TUM researchers and students in the project "FOG Net" are working on obtaining water from unconventional resources such as dew and fog. In areas with little rainfall, this can represent a feasible addition or even an alternative to using groundwater supplies. Led by the TUM Chair of Hydraulic and Water Resources Engineering, in the project "NeXus of Water, Food and Energy" institutions from seven countries are researching the mutual interactions of the limited resources water, foodstuffs and energy. And the Chair for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Systems is addressing energy issues in Africa and is currently implementing specific pilot projects for provision of water and power in Zimbabwe.