The 2015 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of African Higher Education Financing Agencies (AAHEFA): an umbrella body that brings together institutions from the African continent mandated with the issuance of scholarships, bursaries/grants and loans to students in pursuance of higher education, was successfully held from 2nd – 6th November, 2015 at the lush Elmina Beach Resort, Central Region, Ghana.
The event which was under the Theme: “Financing Africa’s Human Resource Capital as a Catalyst for Accelerated Development” was hosted by the Students Loan Trust Fund (SLTF) Ghana, a member of the Association and the Chair of the Legal, Finance and Staff Committee of the Association.
Thirteen (13) member and observer countries participated in the said conference. These comprise Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Namibia, Uganda, South Africa, Botswana, Rwanda, Lesotho and Ghana. Overall, one hundred and twenty (120) participants were present at the opening ceremony. These comprised Ministers of State, dignitaries from academia, Association of African Universities (AAU), Association of African Students Union (AASU) Development Partners such as DAAD, World Bank, Student Unions and the Press.
The objectives of the conference among others were to:
- Share country best practices and experiences and identify gaps and opportunities in maximizing benefits to members.
- Seek strategies on financing solution that works within the peculiar, political, socio-economic, cultural, infrastructural and legal frameworks of the continent.
- Build relevant partnerships and affiliations with other stakeholders involved with higher education in Africa, and
- Provide a learning platform for promoting the benefits of AAHEFA to inspire participation of other non AAHEFA countries invited to the conference.
At the end of conference, Members proposed to present to their respective Governments for consideration and possible adoption within the medium to long term the following Action Points dubbed the 2015 AAHEFA Elmina Declaration.
- Addressing dwindling Government financing vis-a-vis increasing enrolments, dynamic cost sharing and general increases in cost of higher education on the Continent almost pushing it more and more as an elitist venture.
- Clarity in funding modalities available to support nationals through higher education especially as Africa remains the 2nd fasting growing population in the world.
- Aligning students’ loan/grants and bursaries funding more closely to national relevance courses/programmes hence using the Students loans to correct human resource imbalances existing in many African Countries.
- Ensuring that the cost of attaining science and technology related courses/programmes does not become a barrier to pursuing such courses/programmes.
- Translating Africa’s huge population into skills required to feed global labour demands.
- AAHEEFA will work with Governments and member countries to expand its reach within Africa and West Africa in particular.
The keynote address on the theme was delivered by the Hon Deputy Minister for Tertiary Education in Ghana Hon. Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa and read on his behalf by Mrs. Wilhelmina Asamoah, Director Tertiary at the Ministry of Education, Ghana.
There were also Technical and Expert Presentations delivered by Prof. Clement Dzidonu, President of the Accra Institute of Technology (AIT). His presentation was on the subject ‘Higher Education in Africa as a Catalyst for accelerated Development‘
In his presentation on ‘Practical Higher Education Financing Models for Africa’, Prof Peter Okebukola, of the National Universities Commission of Nigeria proposed four (4) funding models worth consideration by the AAHEFA members. And these are
- Performance-based Funding Model
- Access-Equity-Cost-Sharing Model
- Contextualised Formula-Funding Model and
- Host-Proprietor-University-User-Funding Model
The 2015 AAHEFA AGM was very successful and reflected in the glorious compliments from our guests and stakeholders whom lauded the SLTF for such an impressive event.
Having tasted the renowned Ghanaian hospitality at its best, participants from other sister countries admitted they had a warm welcome as well as a memorable moment of insightful dialogue and leisure.
To some, it was indeed an unforgettable and exciting experience fused with knowledge sharing and tourism.