Building Research Capacity in Ethiopian Universities: The Realities and the Challenges

Damtew Teferra, Ph. D.

teferra@bc.edu

Speech prepared for a

Conference on Higher Education in Ethiopia: Future Challenges*

15-16 December 2007

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

 

[The African Institute of Management, Development and Governance (AIM-DG  is publishing this paper in a proceedings.]

 

The tripartite—and universal—mission of a university is to pursue teaching, research and service. While the three entities are inextricably woven, the focus of this presentation is on research. Before starting to talk about the “how” of building research capacity, I took the liberty of considering “the why” we need to do so.

Research is a power house of knowledge creation. At a time when the world is transformed into what is widely dubbed as the knowledge society, the importance of knowledge creation has become ever more critical and ever more crucial, consequently placing universities at the center of national development. Even prominent international development partners, such as the World Bank, have now accepted that reality after having neglected higher education in Africa for considerable period of time. It is to be recalled that, in his recent address to the university community, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has also lamented how higher education had been considered a luxury by development partners and Ethiopia’s determination to build its higher education system—under financial duress. Now that the debate around the impact of higher education in national development has been settled in the affirmative many of us who had been involved in the long drawn dialog feel vindicated.

So countries are striving to raise their global competitiveness through research and innovation by revamping their higher education system. The Europeans are hard at work establishing the European Higher Education Area through what is now generally known as the Bologna Process. The Chinese are determined to establish 100 world class universities. The Japanese are pushing for further consolidation of their university system with a target to build three dozen world class universities. Even the leader of the pack the United States is pushing forward to maintain its competitive edge as others are catching up.

In terms of expenditure, US companies were to spend about $219 billion USD on research and development (R&D) in 2007, a 3.4% increase from the $212 billion spent in 2006. India’s spending on R&D in 2004 was $24 billion USD. China spent $94 billion USD on R&D in 2004, placing it fourth behind the US, the EU and Japan. In our region, the powerhouse of research, South Africa invests around 12 billion Rand (around 1.7 billion USD) or 0.87 percent of GDP.

With those highlights, I now focus on Ethiopia and the central theme of this conference: building research capacity in the nation’s higher education system.

 

Creating a Premium Research Zone: Revitalizing Mother Institutions

Ethiopia is expanding access to higher education with more than a dozen new institutions being currently opened or upgraded to a university level. Such massive expansion on the account of public purse is extraordinary in the region—even in the world. Even without such expansion establishing a strong research capability in existing institutions requires considerable resources and long term commitment. Expansion and quality are often in constant counter-play, especially so where resources are in short supply.

We recognize that all institutions are not born equal. As Ethiopia is expanding access and opening new institutions, it should constitute hierarchy with respect to their strength and standing. Building premier research institutions in a nation dictates that institutions should not be raised equally—but differently. Egalitarianism should not be a guiding principle in building national research capability. It is thus critical that a nation identifies its mother institution(s) around which other new sibling institutions are congregating. A nation, as poor as Ethiopia, cannot simply afford to build numerous strong research institutions at the same time, because, serious research effort is simply too costly to mount at every institution—and maintain it too.

Ethiopia should thus strategize to consolidate its tangible and non-tangible resources to create a premium national research zone(s) by designating a couple of universities as the nation’s flagship institutions. Let me relate one relevant example from China—a country with one of the fastest growing higher education systems. In an effort to become one of the world's top institutions of higher learning, Zhejiang University, was formed by combining four universities, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou University, Zhejiang Agricultural University, and Zhejiang Medical University.

On the other hand, in cases where certain research enclaves and programs are already well developed across several universities, research institutions and NGOs, a much stronger national research and innovation synergy could be generated by systematically and strategically identifying the sites and the programs and coordinating them around their strength.

 

Fostering National Competitiveness

Ethiopia should constantly worry about its national competitiveness in light of emerging global realities. And these concerns could only be addressed through strong institutions—institutions with research and innovative capabilities. What do I mean by that? Let us take for example our intellectual capital in petroleum engineering which one counts on ones finger tips and yet Ethiopia’s interest to expand its engineering capability had been turned down by the Bank in the past (according to the Prime Minister’s remarks on December 2, 2007) that we did not have a need for it.

The point here is that as a nation we need to identify areas of our national competitiveness and capitalize on our assets—natural resources or otherwise. While it is important (and may even be at times inevitable) to engage development partners in matters of national interest, the nation however has to take the driver’s seat in setting its own policies and determine its own strategies to raise its national competitiveness. On the same breath, it is important to underscore that these national strategies should not be compromised for political gains or left to neophytes.

While it is not my intention to put the Bank on the spot, I remember writing a critique on the higher education policy paper it produced for Ethiopia some years back. In that commentary, I lamented how the nation failed to involve its competent higher education specialists in the dialog with the Bank’s high caliber delegation (many of whom I know personally). As a matter of coincidence, I also criticized that policy paper on its poor emphasis on research—which I found was contrary to its major position paper that raised the importance of higher education on its seminal publication Constructing Knowledge Societies (World Bank, 2002).

I earlier used a catchy phrase “national competitiveness” without much elaboration. What does this term mean as discussed here? Increasingly, developing countries have become casualties of scientific and technological advances as they have also benefited from them tremendously. One such casualty is the replacement of natural products—which most Third World countries have been richly endowed—with artificial products. One example that comes to mind is the discovery of a synthetic indigo dye which completely replaced a natural indigo dye that ultimately brought about the collapse of natural indigo industry in several exporting countries.

With the way and speed in which the trend in biotechnology is moving fast, it may not be too long for us to loose our main competitive edge we have with coffee and leather—the country’s major foreign exchange staples. I know that Starbucks has agreed to recognize and also pay for the unique Ethiopian coffee brands which it earlier contested; but at a time when genetic engineering has surpassed all our imaginations, this celebration may be short lived. The science of cloning, which first gave us Dolly the Sheep, needs to be a constant reminder that the country’s competitive edge that abundantly depends on natural products is under threat.

 

Strong Graduate Programs—Enhancing Research Capability

In much of Africa, the central hub for research and innovation remains to be universities. Without strong graduate programs, it is simply impossible to establish a viable research culture and innovative capabilities in a nation.

Addis Ababa University is gearing up to dramatically increase its graduate student enrollment and eventually turn into a predominantly graduate study institution. While I realize that some outstanding issues continue to hamper the effort from expanding graduate education there, the decision however is a step in the right direction.

Knowledge creating capabilities go hand in hand with knowledge utilizing, knowledge adopting, and knowledge mining abilities. I would like to emphasize, in light of what I read on the brief report on the conference and also other comments by high-placed officials, a nation without appropriate infrastructure and human resources can also not be able to capitalize on knowledge generated and harvested elsewhere. Capitalizing on knowledge generated elsewhere requires some basic caliber, capacity and infrastructure on the ground.

The research and innovative capabilities of the nation’s universities could be enhanced dramatically through graduate education if they are directed by competent and accomplished leadership, guided by concerted strategic mission, and genuinely endorsed by the academic community. A healthy relationship between these dynamics and others is a prerequisite to any meaningful results.

The mission of building research capacity in Ethiopia however is much grandeur than the mandates of respective universities, and for that matter the Ministry of Education itself; and thus this needs to closely engage other national stakeholders including (local and federal) government ministries such as Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Telecommunications, Environment, Construction, Mining, private universities, companies/corporations, regional and international organizations, NGOs and development partners.

 

Capitalizing on Success—Tapping Developed Resources

Pockets of strong research sites already exist in the country that need to be further nurtured and promoted. For instance, the Ethiopian Flora Project, based at Addis Ababa University, Science Faculty, has developed strong taxonomy, botany and ecology research in the country owing to the funding support from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through its agency for research cooperation and development with developing countries (SAREC). Ethiopia has one of the strongest such fields in the region equipped with human and technical resources due to the long-term funding support by SIDA which spans close to three decades.

Kenyans, Ugandans, and Tanzanians used to come to Ethiopia to do their postgraduate studies in these and related fields. This national intellectual capital need to be publicized widely to help attract more graduate students across the region, mobilize more international and regional funding and establish more concerted research undertaking.

While talking about publicity, I must say that we as a nation are poor at “marketing” ourselves, our intellectuals and our institutions. For instance, the web sites of virtually all Ethiopia’s universities are simply wanting and a few, I found, also ostentatious in their claims; for instance, a site of one recent university was claiming “an international reputation for teaching and research”.

 

Dipping in the Brain Trust—Stemming Brain Drain

We now know that Ethiopia stands as the most brain drained country in the region. The scars of mass brain exodus are evident in many of the nation’s institutions. While we are confronted with this underlying national reality, we are yet to undertake a concerted and systematic effort to mobilize our sizeable brain powers that have left the home front.

Needless to say, doing so is far from easy and is complicated by social, economic, personal, and political realities. I will not spend much time on the need to stem brain drain—that it is a well-recognized issue—but will simply note that it needs a great political goodwill and serious national commitment to ensure that the best do not leave home in the first place. The recent actions around faculty compensations and others promised in the future are commendable actions that should help stem the tide.

While efforts to address the underlying issues of talent exodus continue, it is also important to consider mobilizing the intellectual diaspora seriously. Ethiopia has great many intellectual diaspora in universities, research centers, think tanks, NGOs, businesses, international organizations, and governments with great potential to be deployed in joint research and publication initiative; advising, mentoring and hosting graduate students; sponsoring programs, departments, and events; help establish endowments; contribute in editing journals and other scholarly works; providing highly sought, but expensive, journals, books and other resources; and raise the profile of home institutions in the knowledge capital.

As noted above the effective mobilization of the intellectual diaspora could be frustrated by several factors. In the case of Ethiopia, the unfortunate political polarization however continues to pose a serious challenge to the effort of tapping the considerable intellectual capital of its diaspora—even though so many of them are so eager to give back to their country. In everyday parlance we are yet to succeed in turning our lemons into lemonade.

I would however like to stress that without competent and high caliber faculty and research community based at home, building research capability in a nation will remain a serious challenge. Individuals build institutions—and these individuals need to attain a critical mass on the ground to make a visible impact. With that in mind, building a critical mass however no more depends on the presence of competence in one particular site or institution—or even nation, as long as these are effectively organized and mobilized from wherever they are.

Even great dedication and commitment of the intellectual community go only so far to build stable and strong institutions. For example, it may come as a surprise to some of you that Ethiopia’s leading scientists based at Addis Ababa University do not even have their own private office. In one case, two leading ecologists and a taxonomist share a crowded office where it becomes tricky when all of them have to speak on the phone, or entertain visitors or advisees at the same time. In terms of housing situation what one of my Ethiopian friends, currently a university professor and head of department in the US (and Gold Medal Winner from AAU at one time) said captures it all: keweyzero beqelu kushna yaweTagnn amlak msgana yigbaw which translates as “Praise the Lord for extricating me from Ms Beqelu’s kitchen”reminiscing on his depressing living state while here.

It needs to be strongly stated that raising the comfort level of researchers, scientists and thinkers, by way of either minimizing their level of engagement in secondary matters (such as tedious preoccupation with routine administrative and bureaucratic monotony), or providing them a modest living and working environment, is a forward looking approach of national interest. Time lost to Professor Abebe is time lost to his institution—and his nation. I remember a conversation I had with a senior SIDA (Swedish) staff sometime back who as he praised the good books of AAU’s accounting system he lamented the under utilization of the resources they put to the disposal of the institution (probably due to the excessive and stringent accounting system). As another expatriate in frustration put it “you cannot get a penny out of that institution”. The point here is that creating conducive working and living environment for researchers and intellectuals, in my view, is not a favor a country is doing to these citizens—but rather a smart strategy to effectively tap their potential to the nation building and development process.

 

Tapping Expatriates: The Potential at the Home Front

Ethiopia is endowed with a rich resource of expertise from around the world based here in the Capital, Addis Ababa. As a seat of UNECA, AU, other numerous regional and international organizations and NGOs such as UNESCO, FAO, OSSREA and others, Ethiopia amasses intellectual capital from around the world who could possibly be mobilized to promote its national research and knowledge system. The country is actually sitting on a gold mine whose potential is yet to be tapped.

 

Engaging National Talent—Prospecting Global Perspectives

It is distressing to a national scholarly and intellectual community when it is deliberately or inadvertently ignored on matters of significant national interest. It is even more demoralizing when the local intelligentsia and human resources are sweepingly displaced by expatriate consultants and advisors whose caliber and knowledge are often no more, if not less, than the nationals. To be sure, generally external entities would not act with the same interest, zeal and devotion as nationals.

I would like to however quickly underscore that a country needs to be as outward looking as it is inward and a fair balance between nationals and expatriates views and roles needs to be struck. Cross fertilization of ideas is critical in the global world we live in and there is a great need to work closely with global knowledge networks to enhance national research capability. The views, perspectives, and input of expatriates come in handy especially in a small intellectual environment like Ethiopia which could be easily susceptible to vested interest, internal feud and academic feudalism. External entities bring in fresh perspectives, inject new energy, and help cross fertilize ideas. Think globally but act nationally, is what I am trying to get at here.

 

Endowment: Mobilizing Private Philanthropy

Endowing universities and research centers are common in the Western world, especially the United States. With the largest endowment in the world, Harvard University boasts over 35 billion dollars in endowment. In another example, the American and Canadian Friends of the Hebrew and Tel Aviv Universities actively generate resources and build endowments for the advancement of higher education in Israel. For instance, the American Friends of the Hebrew University was gearing up to raise $1 billion USD after it raised more than USD $600 million in 2000.

Africa however is much behind the rest of the world, though South Africa is actively involved in private philanthropy endowing universities for building scholarly institutions and programs. For example, in 2000, the Development Office of the University of Cape Town (UCT) reported generating 107 million rand (about USD $10 million) from donors—a 14% increase from the previous year. The overseas partners—the UCT Fund (U.S.) and the UCT Trust (U.K.)—were central to achieving this goal, although 60 percent of the campaign funds were raised in South Africa. Through the significant endowment funds that were raised, the university was able to start or continue building endowments for four chairs: the Nelson Mandela Chair of the Humanities, the Lesley Hill Chair of Plant Biology, the Pasvolsky Chair of Conservation Biology, and the Discovery Chair of Exercise and Sports Science.

Of course, the incentives and the realities for endowment differ from country to country and every country needs to work its own way of approaching the ideal. Ethiopian institutions need to work hard in establishing such endowments. For instance, with generous funding the Getachew Bolodia Foundation could establish research chairs in critical areas of national interest.

On the same breath, Ethiopia has to also work hard to ensure that it benefits from major higher education development initiatives around the world. The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, a consortium of now seven major foundations, for the second time committed around a quarter of a billion dollars for another five years to revitalize select African universities. And Ethiopia is not a beneficiary of this major development. And yet I cannot think of any other country in Africa as needy as Ethiopia is—but the reality is that she is not.

Ethiopia should also actively participate in regional and international platforms to tap not only financial resources, but also human and technical capital as well as expansive networks. For example the Nelson Mandela Foundation for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology, is establishing centers of excellence across the region to improve the application of science and technology to the development needs of the region.

 

Funding and Resources

Needless to say, without massive financial resources building strong research capability will simply remain a dream. Research demands not just a one-off major input but a long-term commitment consistent with the larger mission of building such capability. In Ghana, for example, the government has instituted an education tax which has significantly strengthened the higher education and research environment. Elsewhere countries are encouraging businesses and corporations to support research and innovation (by creating incentives). In much of Africa, there have been efforts to create university-industry partnership but this has had a limited traction.

In Africa, more than 70 percent of research funding originates from external resources; this greatly varies by country whereby some of them tend to be completely dependent on these sources. As Ethiopia is striving to build strong research institutions it should expand its funding resources beyond the national coffers. Diversifying sources of funding is central to establishing and sustaining strong research efforts. As I noted above, Ethiopia should actively solicit research grants not only from the usual patrons of development partners such as the Swedes, the Norwegians, and the Dutch but also new and emerging ones, such as the big US foundations, as Gates, Google, Ford and others.

Universities should be equipped with a dedicated office and trained personnel who track funding opportunities around the world and advise and direct researchers, help prepare and organize grant proposals, publicize research potentials and outcomes to appropriate funders, and so forth.

 

Scholarly Publication and Associations

Journals and other periodicals are a central part of the research enterprise and yet in much of Africa these research communication tools are in dismal shape. Capacities to generate knowledge as well as access to new knowledge are limited in the continent.

Ethiopia has more than a dozen well-established scholarly journals which are at different level of standing, state, and quality. As the effort to strengthen research is moving forward, it is important to have these outlets of research strengthened and supported.

In terms of access to scholarly journals and periodicals, several institutional, regional and international initiatives are underway to provide free access to African institutions. I hope Ethiopia is making the appropriate effort to benefit from these developments.

There were over 60 professional associations in the country several years ago. These include Biological Society of Ethiopia, Chemical Society of Ethiopia, Mathematical Association of Ethiopia, Statistical Association of Ethiopia, Ethiopian Medical Association, Ethiopian Veterinary Association, Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Association, Ethiopian Association of Engineers and Architects, Ethiopian Economic Association, Ethiopian IT Professionals Association, Ethiopian Inventors Association, and Ethiopian Wildlife and Natural History Society. These are national intellectual treasures which need to be actively nurtured and purposefully engaged in the nation’s resolve to build its research and innovative capacity.

Scholarly associations and societies serve as important avenues of scholarly dialog, research communication and information dissemination. These bodies serve as advocates of their scholarly and professional interest, monitor and shape the rules of the fields, as well as frame the scholarly etiquette in a national context.

 

The Nature of Research: Internal Needs and External Demands

There has always been tension between research for its own sake (basic/fundamental research) and research for targeted outcome (applied research). In countries where resources are limited, preferences almost always focus on applied research that purports to address social and economic challenges. Of course as the major funders of research in Africa, external development partners determine the kind, extent and scope of research in Africa and countries have had no leeway to divert funds already earmarked by funders for definitive objectives.

Countries are thus left with a choice of committing own resources on “unpopular” research areas which demands the creation of synergies around areas of their national interest not benefiting from external sources. Ethiopia for example needs to establish strong research capabilities in hydrology, petroleum engineering, material science, and informatics among others which may probably do not attract as much funding as other areas, as HIV-AIDS, primary health care, primary education, and so on.

I would like however to note that even when a particular research is fully funded by international development partners, other resources—money or human—flow towards that direction directly or indirectly competing with the efforts not funded by them.

In my view the research focus of a country should not simply be dictated by immediate and obvious needs of that nation. Instead, these should be grounded in the context of a strategic plan which takes into account national competitiveness well into the future. What do I mean in simple terms? Do we need to focus on issues of self-sufficiency in food production? Yes. This is an obvious and immediate need. Do we need a technology-led development? Yes, but this may not be felt as obvious or immediate need (that attracts external funding) but one that guarantees socioeconomic development and raise the level of national competitiveness. The point here could be summed up, using an Ethiopian saying, as ende guaya neqay yefit yefitachnn bcha anmelket which somewhat translates as “let us not simply be blinded by our immediate needs”.

As a matter of relevance, the shelf life of knowledge and information is fast becoming short-lived rendering the process of knowledge acquisition and knowledge consumption somewhat out of sync with what we are used to. As a consequence, higher education thinkers are now pushing to focus more on cultivating critical thinkers than producing individuals who are soaked with facts—facts whose life cycle are getting increasingly ephemeral in character.

 

Honoring Accomplished Intellectuals: Recognizing their Rights and Freedom

When Ethiopia’s leading ecologist Dr. Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher, my former supervisor and mentor, received the Alternative Nobel Prize for 2000 in Sweden, while many of his colleagues and friends cheered, I however struggled why we take our time to recognize and celebrate the success of one of our own. I know that in recognition of his outstanding contributions Addis Ababa University later bestowed on him an honorary doctorate. 

Sometime back I ran into a senior manager of the University of Botswana where one of Africa’s leading phytochemist, the Ethiopian Professor Berhanu Abegaz, is based. The official was relating to me about the recent award Professor Berhanu received in Botswana and how his presence raised the profile of the department and the university as a whole and in recognition “the university would do whatever it can to keep Berhanu there”. I listened both with excitement—and jealousy. While he had an impeccable resume that could easily entitle him full professorship, he however left without it—if all my facts are correct.

One other example that comes to mind is the late Dr. Teklehaimanot Retta, the great Ethiopian Mathematician who passed away with neither the appropriate title nor a proper shelter commensurate to his person. And many of us who knew him grieve his situation to this day.

Indeed, many great intellectual Ethiopians fall in the cracks simply because they are considered “disengaged”, “misfits”, “subversives”, or “threats”.

In my view, if a country is seriously concerned about its research and knowledge capabilities, its resources are just never too small to honor its accomplished intellectuals neither its tolerance level too low to readily dismiss or systematically undermine them. Academic freedom is central to the nation’s higher education system and research development—and there is simply no way around it.

When I am talking about academic freedom, I am not actually confined to the most common culprit, governments, but also students, colleagues and even society. An intellectual should simply be free to think, free to write, and free to speak—wherever and whenever—without fear of government crackdown, collegial pressure, societal backlash or student uproar. The commitment of a government to nurture research and innovation should not simply be measured by the public money it puts at the institutions disposal—but equally by its tolerance to accept and its dedication to protect its intellectual capital—not only from its own forces, but possibly from other internal and external threats. To put it in a global socio-political context, as a wind of democratization is blowing around the world, countries are now awash with numerous effective and weak oppositions as well as bold critics for incumbents to worry about the “non-conforming subversives” sheltered in intellectual institutions.

 

Nurturing the New Generation

As much as one forcefully argues in favor of senior intellectuals honored, respected and recognized, a concurrent effort must be in place to nurture a new generation of emerging researchers, scientists and intellectuals. Academic feudalism is a common phenomenon in a small intellectual environment like the one in Ethiopia and it is not that easy for many to grow “under a shadow of a large tree”—especially when this tree is neither productive—as they call it in the business “dead wood”—or “esoteric”.

It is thus imperative that as serious efforts to honor national talent and pay tribute to senior intellectuals are made, the new generation of scientists and scholars also nurtured by instituting special provisions targeting them such as for instance competitive research grants.

 

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology: Time for a New Organ

I am raising this issue for a third time in such a gathering in Ethiopia prompted by the pattern around the world in which countries are positioning themselves to capitalize from the knowledge society. Producing high-level expertise to create, access, consume, adapt, and disseminate knowledge has become critical for national development; and integrating science, technology and higher education as a national knowledge development strategy for meaningful social and economic progress is gaining more traction.

Institutions, departments, and expertise are reorganized, reshuffled and streamlined to capitalize on their collective strength, quality and vigor. The repositioning and reconstitution of organizations represent steps in the realization and enhancement of these underlying objectives. Nearly a third of the African continent, many countries in Latin America and others in Asia have integrated their higher education and science and technology under one roof.

About two decades have elapsed since the Commission for Higher Education got disbanded and replaced with the current organizational arrangement of higher education system which is also more than a decade old. And yet, major national and global transformations have taken place around higher education since then which prompts us to seriously consider the idea of restructuring the national system of knowledge institutions in Ethiopia in keeping with these changes, challenges and trends.

Countries all over the world are striving to overhaul their knowledge institutions to deploy them as engines of development and, it is my position that, Ethiopia also should do the same. Ethiopia need not initiate change just for the sake of it; but the changes must be guided by long-term vision, genuine commitment, and above all national interest. I am thus reiterating the idea of establishing a new organizational body that governs higher education, science and technology collectively under one roof in a Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology.

 

Conclusion

Research is a very expensive enterprise. Building such an enterprise for a poor country like Ethiopia is a formidable challenge. With that remark, I should also hasten to say that without strong research and innovative capabilities progress and development will be very difficult to achieve.

We realize that the country faces too many challenges to build strong national research capabilities. While the challenges may appear to be formidable, the potentials and the opportunities are thrilling. If we are to tap the potentials and reap the fruits of this national effort, we need to think out of the box and even take a calculated risk in doing things we have not done before.

I cannot emphasize enough that our future well being and our progress heavily depend on the state and quality of our knowledge institutions and our capability to produce, consume and adapt knowledge.

 

*Due to time constraints the whole speech could not be delivered fully.

 

 

 


About the Author

Dr. Damtew Teferra is Director for Africa and the Middle East at the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program based at the Institute of International Education in New York. He was Associate Research Professor of Higher Education at the Center for International Higher Education, Lynch School of Education, Boston College, USA before he joined the program in February 2007.

Damtew is the Founding Editor-in-Chief (former) of the Journal of Higher Education in Africa and the Founder and Director of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa (http://www.bc.edu/inhea). Damtew is the Senior Editor of the Conover-Porter Award winning book (in 2006) African Higher Education: An International Reference Handbook (Indiana University Press, 2003) and an author of Scientific Communication in African Universities: National Needs and External Support (RoutledgeFalmer, 2003). His jointly edited book African Higher Education: The International Dimension is due in mid-2008.

Damtew holds a Bachelors Degree (in Biology/Chemistry) from Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), a M. Phil. (in Scientific Publishing) from Stirling University (Scotland), and a Ph. D. in Higher Education Administration from Boston College (USA). He may be reached at teferra@bc.edu.
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