Six of the largest foundations in the United States are joining forces and investing $200 million in a five-year initiative to advance higher education and development in Africa, the Chicago Tribune reports.
The initiative builds on the Partnership to Strengthen African Universities, which was launched in 2000 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford, MacArthur, and Rockefeller foundations, and has awarded more than $150 million to selected universities in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Two other foundations, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, have agreed to join the effort. "This effort expands our commitment to the renaissance of African higher education and to its importance in Africa's future development," said Ford Foundation president Susan V. Berresford.
Among other things, the expanded initiative will allocate more than $5 million for an eightfold increase in Internet bandwidth capacity for a consortium of African universities. Eleven schools and two higher-education groups have already contracted for increased bandwidth via satellite, a cheaper alternative to the Internet connectivity currently offered at most African institutions of higher education. The added bandwidth, which is scheduled to come on line later this year, should improve the schools' access to world-class resources around the world. "African universities that combine excellent, world-class education with programs of practical training are vital to progress, and it is heartening to see them emerge," said Jonathan Fanton, president of the MacArthur Foundation, which has been active in Nigeria since 1989. "Technology is an essential bridge to that progress and development."