A preparatory meeting of Experts to undertake verification visits to shortlisted institutions for selection as Africa Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture was organised by the African Union Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources (AU-IBAR) within the provisions of the Fisheries Governance Project with support from European Union.
The meeting was held from the 15th to 16th March 2018 at AU-IBAR offices in Nairobi, Kenya and was a follow-up to the recommendations from related meetings held in 2016 in Zanzibar, United Republic of Tanzania and also in 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya.
The main objectives of this preparatory meeting were to:
- Formulate Terms of References (ToRs) and criteria for scoring for the expert verification assessment of the short-listed institutions
- Agree on a harmonized and approach for the verification missions
- Undertake preliminary review of the submitted dossiers by the short-listed institutions against the formulated criteria for scoring
The meeting was attended by 8 Experts namely: Mr. Etienne Hinrichsen- AquaEco, South Africa; Dr. Paul Onyango- University of Dar es salaam, Tanzania; Mr. Ben Kiddu- Technical Manager WAFICOS, Uganda; Dr. Hangombe Bernard Mudenda, University of Zambia; Dr. Daniel Adjei-Boateng- Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana; Prof. Abdel-Fattah El-Sayed– Alexandria University, Egypt; Dr. Andrew Baio – University of Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone; Dr Modibo Traore, retired Director of AU-IBAR and the Technical Team Leader of the Verfication Mission. Also in attendance were also staff from AU-IBAR, Prof Ahmed El-sawahly- Director of AU-IBAR, Dr Mohamed Seisay- Senior Fisheries Officer; Dr Nelly Isyagi- Aquaculture Officer and Ms Hellen Moepi- Project Assistant Fisheries Governance.
The Director of AU-IBAR, Prof. Ahmed El-Sawahly gave a welcome statement. The Director informed the meeting that the initiative for establishing Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa is a result of recommendation from the 2014 Joint Ministerial Conferences in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that requested the African Union to facilitate its establishment to enhance capacity building in the sector for its sustained growth and development. He also reminded the experts that the initiative to establish African centres of excellence in fisheries and aquaculture is firmly anchored within the resolutions of the African Union political organ as well as Policy framework and Reform strategy for fisheries and aquaculture in Africa which was endorsed by the Heads of States and Governments in 2014 as a blue print for sustainable development of the sector.
The AU-IBAR Director gave a brief overview of the activities AU-IBAR has undertaken towards the implementation of this high level recommendation. He informed the experts of the workshop held in Zanzibar 2016 that established the roadmap to establish the centres of excellence, formulated criteria for selection and identified the disciplines in fisheries and aquaculture. Based on the recommendation of the Zanzibar meeting, AU-IBAR launched a call for expression of interest through an open competitive bidding. The meeting in Nairobi, Kenya in September 2017 evaluated the bids and short-listed institutions that would qualify as Africa centres of excellence. The Nairobi Meeting made a recommendation that a ground verification mission be conducted to further assess and verify the content of the submitted bids based on which they were short-listed.
In concluding his statement, the Director of AU-IBAR reiterated the importance of conducting this exercise in a professional, impartial and fair manner and admonished the experts to rise above national and regional aspirations in the conduct of this exercise and think Africa.
Dr. Modibo Traore, Technical Team leader gave a Goodwill message on behalf of the experts. Dr Traore recognised and noted the overexploitation of the fisheries resources on the continent and appreciated the timely decision to select Africa Centres of Excellence in Fisheries and Aquaculture.
He cautioned that the reason for establishing Centres of Excellence should be clear and the section process should reflect the intended goal. He noted that the creation of Africa Centres of Excellence also provides an opportunity for the institutions to learn from each other, share experiences and best practices in the sector. More importantly, he added, the selected institutions should be able to share information and be able to provide motivation to the other institutions for their development or elevation to the status for recognition as Centres of Excellence. He encouraged the experts to fully engage during this meeting and come up with uniform criteria that should guide the verification process.
Setting the Scene Session
An introductory presentation on the fisheries and aquaculture sector, current benefits, opportunities, challenges; background, rationale, and objectives of the meeting were given by Dr. Mohamed Seisay.
Dr Nelly Isyagi provided a presentation on the zero draft Terms of Reference (criteria for scoring) for the verification mission.
- The Experts reviewed the zero draft Terms of Reference (criteria for scoring) for the assessment.
- Presentation of the refined terms of reference by AU-IBAR
- The Experts independently conducted an in-depth review of submissions (applications/bids) by short-listed institutions vis-a-vis the refined terms of reference
- Presentation of findings of review of the submitted bids/applications by the Experts and their impressions
- Presentation on Logistics was made by Ms Jemima Makanda, Administrative Assistant of AU-IBAR
The meeting had the following outcomes:
- The experts brought into the discussions knowledge and experience from the perspectives of academia, research and private sector
- The Terms of Reference (including criteria for scoring) for the assessment were refined and by the Expert
- The Terms of reference (for scoring) are to be adapted for vocational training and research centres by the respective Experts and share with other Experts for their comments and adoption
- The in-depth review of the submitted bids/applications against the adopted Terms of reference was conducted by the experts . Based on the bids review, the Terms of Reference were further refined and adopted
The meeting came up with the following sets of recommendations
- The Experts appreciated the importance of this exercise in building capacities of the African research, academic and training institutions, thus recommended that the adopted Terms of References (with scoring criteria) for assessment be circulated to the institutions to be visited to allow timely preparation of the information and supporting documents.
- Given the importance of selecting an African Union recognised Centres of Excellence in fisheries and aquaculture, the Experts noted that this exercise should be undertaken in a democratic, fair manner and be transparent for public accountability.
- The Experts noted gaps in submitted bids/applications for some of the institutions and recommended that ground verification exercise should endeavour to address the gaps.
- Considering the stages of approval in the African Union system, the Experts committed to provide a comprehensive report with emphasis on the recommendations with regards to supporting the Africa Centres of Excellence in fisheries and aquaculture.
- The Experts underscored the importance of identification of an appropriate Centres of Excellence for aquatic governance, policy issues, socio-economic etc. and strongly recommended that AU-IBAR should place another call for expression of interest for this discipline and other disciplines are deemed very relevant for improved sector management
- There will be another expert meeting to mainly discuss outcomes of the experts verification missions. The experts would be required to present their findings at this meeting.
Closing of the meeting
Dr Traore thanked the Experts for effective participation and ensuring that the Terms of Reference are simplified, harmonised and understood by all. The meeting was formally closed by the Director, AU-IBAR. He thanked the participants for dedicating their time and expertise in undertaking this important exercise. He wished the Experts well, courage and success.