DAAD Alumni Conference

March 1st – 3rd, 2019, Nairobi, Kenya

Young Scholars in Africa
Challenges and Opportunities

It is acknowledged all across the world that young academics, as future university lecturers, researchers, or professionals, play a key role for research and development (r&d) and the education systems. In many African countries however, it seems that the numbers of junior scientists and other scholars are far too low, and support mechanisms are not in place or too few, to provide the rapidly growing Higher Education sector with the necessary human resources and to build up adequate research capacities. This is contrary to most countries’ political and economic aspirations to become “middle income” and “knowledge” societies within the foreseeable future.
Although there is an obvious contradiction between the envisaged key role of young scholars for the development of their societies and their perceived impact, little is known about the realities on the ground: What chances and challenges do PhD students and Postdocs face? How are academic careers promoted or impaired?
Luckily, recent research is about to throw light on these and related questions:
– “Young Scientists in Africa – Factors influencing research performance and career development” (YSA) is a study conducted in 24 African nations by the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) of Stellenbosch University.
– The Global Young Academy has embarked on their “GLOSYS – AFRICA” – Project (The Global State of Young Scientists-Africa”). Its focus is on the perception of young scholars on their working conditions, career prospects, mobility, and mentorship.
– “Building PhD Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa” is a study undertaken by the “African Network for Internationalization of Education” (ANIE), commissioned by DAAD and the British Council. It looks at the modalities of “PhD-production” and its links to national research agendas in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa.
At the same time, growing efforts can be observed across Africa to render organized support to young scholars in pursuing their careers, and to lobby for their needs. This ranges from local grassroot initiatives and support networks, some with a special focus on female scientists, to thematic research networks (CARTA) and the “Next Einstein Forum”.
Education Ministries and University Commissions seem to realize that quality assurance and the respective standards and benchmarks in graduate education are necessary to overcome the existing serious deficits.
Last but not least, Alumni Associations of the DAAD (as well as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and possibly other organizations) see it as their mission to integrate young scholars into the scientific communities and be supportive in promoting further careers.


The conference wants to offer DAAD-Alumnae and -Alumni as well as other active young scholars from African countries the opportunity to learn more about completed or still ongoing research into “their” state. As stakeholders, they will be encouraged to actively comment on the respective findings and to discuss whether their everyday experience is reflected by the research outcomes.
Individuals, initiatives and institutions, whose mission is the support of young African scholars and the strengthening of science and research “Made in Africa”, will present their ways of overcoming system-related deficits and in promoting scholarly careers. These approaches and their needs orientation will be examined and reflected by the participants.
Needs, suggestions and demands of young scholars will be documented during the event and will be presented in a final round table of dialogue with decision makers from Governments, University Commissions, Regional University associations, higher education and research institutions and funding bodies.
It is hoped that by the end of the conference, all facets of the topic will have been covered and will allow to draw a roadmap towards overcoming major challenges which young African scholars are facing and towards unleashing their potential..

Get in touch

If you have any queries regarding the conference, do not hesitate to drop us an email or call us directly.

Email: conference@daadafrica.org

Telephone: +254 714601225 / +254 788434956


Please direct all content queries to: 

Ms. Miriam Pahl

Email: pahl@daadafrica.org

Telephone: +254 733929929 / +254 771444111