On Tuesday, December 21, 2021, teams at the Research Technical Assistance Center (RTAC) and Makerere UniversityResilientAfrica Network (RAN) held the 4th RTAC-RAN Webinar in partnership with the University of Nairobi, Kenya. This Webinar was on the role of African Higher Education Institutions in development in the face of COVID-19. The Webinar was aimed at bringing together all the RTAC partners/stakeholders including United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Missions, specifically, researchers from different Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) to learn, relearn and unlearn guided by the Webinar Topic. This webinar was attended by over 80 participants from several HEIs including; Muhimbili University in Tanzania, the University of Texas at Austin, University of Arizona Institute for Resilience, University of Lisbon; Portugal, University of Nairobi, and Makerere University among others. 

It was yet another opportunity for the academia, policymakers, researchers and innovators, development partners, and private sector players to engage in discussions deliberating on the role of universities in the development more so during the COVID-19 period. It highlighted the impact of Covid-19 on HEIs, the impact of COVID-19 on research, the role of HEIs in the COVID-19 response, research and innovation in relation to COVID-19, resource mobilization, partnerships, opportunities and challenges faced by HEIs. The webinar spotlighted the innovations that African HEIs have adopted to keep up with learning, student engagements, and assessments amidst the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions and how these innovations have eased learning for students in Universities in Africa.

Our Presenter was Prof. Stephen Kiama, Vice-Chancellor University of Nairobi. See more about Prof. Kiama here 

Some quotes by Prof. Kiama; 

“Teaching, research and innovation were largely affected by COVID-19 because offices, laboratories among others were closed. Even human interactions and group discussions were disrupted”.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic times, we learnt how to fast track grant approval processes. I believe that we shall continue leveraging and using these learnings even post COVID-19 times”.

“We need to keep the inventory of those people who helped in the response to COVID-19 including volunteers for ease of response and use in the future”. 

“For collaboration and partnership efforts, the University of Nairobi linked up with Ministry of Health in Kenya to join efforts in managing the pandemic, for example, advising Government when to do what like when to close and or open the economy among others”.