HAQAA2 is an EU-funded project developed within the framework of the AU-EU partnership that was formally established in 2000 at the first Africa-EU Summit in Cairo, the sixth edition of which was held on 17-18 February 2022. The HAQAA2 implementing team includes the Association of African Universities (AAU), the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the European Network for Quality Assurance (ENQA), and is led by OBREAL Global.
OBREAL Global was honoured when, as leader of the HAQAA2 project, it was asked by GUNi to coordinate the Regional Chapter on Africa of the Special Issue of its World Report on “New Visions for Higher Education towards 2030”. The content of the chapter largely coincided with the work already initiated within the framework of HAQAA2’s policy component. Most contributions to it will therefore be developed and extended (and be given continuity, which is certainly an advantage) within this HAQAA framework.
The chapter begins with two introductory pieces offering an overview by two distinguished professors with a wealth of knowledge and experience: Wail Benjelloun (Morocco) and Juma Shabani (Burundi). This is followed by a presentation from a regional perspective, prepared by a leading regional institution, the Inter-University Council of East Africa (one of the eight official institutions of the East Africa Community), and co-authored by its Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretary, Professors Gaspard Banyankimbona and Mike Kuria. It continues with four contributions on topics that are highly relevant in the African context and in terms of GUNi’s Special Issue of its World Report, all written by leading and experienced specialists: Transforming Curricula by Charmaine B. Villet (Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Namibia), Research and Innovation: Learning and Innovation Strategies by Mafini Dosso (from the Ivory Coast, currently working at the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission), Internationalisation by James Jowi (founder of ANIE – African Network for the Internationalisation of Education - and principal education officer in the East African Community), and Quality and Quality Assurance by Jeffy Mukora (from Mozambique, with extensive experience in this area at national and regional/continental levels). The last contribution deals with an issue too often forgotten in academic literature: the need for data (and data collection) in order to engage in well-informed policy-making; it has been written by one of the members of the HAQAA2 Policy-and-Data Unit implementing team, Professor Kibrome M. Haile (a former Law School Dean at one of the leading universities in Ethiopia). Finally, the Secretary General of the Association of African Universities (AAU), Professor Olusola Oyewole, offers an overview from the AAU’s perspective.
All these contributions are comprehensive, and demand and deserve careful reading and reflection. Without intending to summarise them, I will therefore attempt to draw from them some very general conclusions that could serve as a basis for further policy-oriented work. The conclusions will mainly be methodological, as I’m not African and history tells us that it is highly advisable for non-Africans to refrain from meddling with the substance of education systems in Africa.
The premise for the conclusions is as follows: higher education policy is defined and implemented at many levels. The two basic levels will always be (i) the “regulated”, i.e. the universities (or, more generally, Higher Education Institutions, known as HEIs) themselves, endowed with autonomy to a greater or lesser degree, and (ii) the “regulators” at national level, i.e. governments and parliaments. At world level, the United Nations family of organisations, mainly UNESCO, offers a multilateral framework whose effective impact will however always be very limited as governments are extremely reluctant to relinquish their independence in an area as sensitive as education (including Higher Education). In the middle, between the national and multilateral levels, regional integration processes that can embrace higher education may appear. This is certainly the case in Africa, where two integration processes coexist and overlap: that of the Regional Communities and that of the Continent (the African Union, with an important continental player bringing together, at least potentially, all universities: the Association of African Universities).
The conclusions are as follows:
All in all, the chapter achieves the goals of any venture in the field of knowledge production: systematising existing knowledge, contributing new knowledge and laying the foundations for further future advances.
From a wider political perspective, I will end this presentation with the last sentence of Professor Oyewole’s overview from the AAU’s perspective:
“Africa has a very young population. Education is the only viable way of equipping these youths for the future. Special attention should be given to youth development in Africa by ensuring that Africa builds up the youths that will drive its development. This effort must also embrace the higher education sector as the apex and the server of the entire education system”.
It summarises why we and everyone else should care about African higher education.
 See: https://haqaa2.obsglob.org/ and https://haqaa.aau.org/
 See: https://obsglob.org/
Torrent currently serves as Executive President of OBREAL Global, the association of Universities and associations of Universities that leads the consortium (OBREAL Global, AAU, DAAD, ENQA) implementing the EU-funded project HAQAA-2 (Harmonization, Accreditation and Quality Assurance in African HE, second phase, 2020-2022). Very active, first as a student and afterwards as a young lecturer, in University opposition to Franco’s dictatorship and in the transition to democracy, he was vice-rector of the University of Barcelona between 1978 and 1986 and was the main drafter of its first democratic Statutes. Moved to Brussels in 1988, he became the Director for External Relations in the Legal Service of the EU Council. He returned voluntarily in 1998 to his position in the University of Barcelona as professor of Political Economy and International Economic Law, he has conceived and directed many international projects, been a consultant for many international organisations and published extensively on HE and International Relations until his retirement in 2017.