Innovative Africa-Asia Multidisciplinary Hub in the offing

Mon, 10.Jun.2024 14.51

By Jackson Isdory, CMU

The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) is making strides to strengthen the enduring bond between Africa and Asia through the establishment of a pioneering and an innovative hub that embraces a multidisciplinary approach to addressing issues concerning both continents.

Speaking at the institutional roundtable workshop that brought together renowned scholars from both continents, held at UDSM recently, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor-Research, Prof. Nelson Boniface, said the pioneering initiative aimed to foster a deeper understanding and collaboration across various fields of study.

“The hub is in line with the leveraging of historical connections and present-day partnerships between the two continents and is envisioned to be a pivotal addition to the UDSM's exemplary landscape, by emphasising multidisciplinary collaboration and partnerships”, said Prof. Boniface, who represented the Vice Chancellor, Prof. William A. L. Anangisye. 

Prof Boniface said that the hub would contribute significantly to the development of Africa-Asia encounters, fostering a deeper understanding of these continents and their global implications, and enhancing collaboration in research, education, and cultural exchange.

From historical bonds to the present collaborations

The roots of Africa-Asia relations run deep in Tanzania's history, with significant ties dating back to the struggles for independence from colonial powers. Notably, Tanzania's  relationship with China stands as a testament to the enduring bonds forged during times of political upheaval and economic development.

From collaboration in development of infrastructure like the Tanzania-Zambia Railway to cultural exchanges and economic cooperation, the partnership between Tanzania and China has flourished over the decades. Similarly, the India-Tanzania historical relationship has spanned business, academic and medical arenas.

The proposed hub seeks to capitalise on these historical ties, focus on decolonised knowledge and create a global centre for interdisciplinary research, knowledge and cultural exchange, and global partnerships. By fostering a spirit of unity and integration, the hub aims to address the dearth of collaborative networks in Africa-Asia studies and propel the field forward.

Collaboration lies at the heart of the proposed hub's strategy, with partnerships already established with esteemed institutions such as the International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS) and universities across Africa, Asia and beyond. Through faculty exchanges, joint research projects, and cultural initiatives, these partnerships will drive the hub's mission forward, expanding its global reach and impact.

Dr. Philippe Peycam, Director of the International Institute of Asian Studies (IIAS), Leiden, The Netherlands, said that "the proposed hub represents a significant step forward in fostering international collaboration and advancing interdisciplinary research. We look forward to contributing to its success and strengthening ties between academia in Africa and Asia”.

Meaningful exchange and collaboration to address shared challenges

Prof. Santi Martini from Universitas Airlangga lauded the initiative noting that "as an institution committed to Indian Ocean studies, we see great potential in the proposed hub to deepen our understanding of Africa-Asia relations. This proposed hub will serve as a platform for meaningful exchange and collaboration”.

Dr. Webby Kalikiti, from the University of Zambia commended the initiative and said that “Africa-Asia collaboration holds immense potential for addressing shared challenges and advancing mutual interests. The proposed hub provides an opportunity for scholars and practitioners to work together towards common goals”.

The roundtable discussions are expected to pave the way for the formal establishment of the hub, marking a significant milestone in Africa-Asia academic cooperation. With the University of Dar es Salaam at the helm, the establishment of the proposed hub promises to deepen understanding, foster collaboration, and drive innovation in Africa-Asia relations.

Dr. Mathew Senga, UDSM Research Grant Coordinator and one of the key architects behind this momentous initiative, extended his gratitude to the participants and the organising committee, vowing to dedicate unwavering commitment towards the triumph of the proposed hub. Dr. Senga pointed out that, "Our ancestors tirelessly endeavoured to connect our nations, and now it is our responsibility to unite our intellects for the prosperous future of our beloved continents."