From Africa to Lund for taking a course at LUSEM

Published: 2022-05-31

18 people came from Africa to Lund to learn more about innovation, transformation and resilience for sustainable development. Why come all this way? And what knowledge will they bring back? Meet Pamla, Faith, Nahed and David and learn more about their thoughts on the four weeks course. And on the LundaCarnival 😁

Faith, Nahid, David and Pamla came from Africa to Lund to learn more about innovation, transformation and resilience for sustainable development. Photo: Anna Löthman

When Senior lecturer in Economic history Martin Andersson learned that a new course on advanced level was required for a SIDA project striving for strengthening the capacity to develop the use of research, technology and innovation in Africa, he accepted the challenge. 

”The intended content about for example innovation, development and poverty reduction felt important and I decided to start the process of developing a completely new course,” Martin says. 

Martin Andersson, Senior lecturer in Economic history at LUSEM, is course director of the commissioned training course that brought 18 people from Africa to Lund this spring. Photo: Johan Persson

And so it happened. The first lecture within the course Innovation, Transformation and Resilience for Sustainable Development was given 12 May with 18 participants from different African countries in the room. The end of course with presentations of a final individual assignment was on 3 June. Why did the participants come all the way to Lund for this course and what will they bring back? Meet four of the participants, Pamla, Faith, Nahid and David!

Meeting all expectations

Back home in Cairo Nahed Salem works as a Deputy Director of the Egyptian science, technology and innovation Observatory at The Academy of Scientific research and Technology but she is also a master student in Management of Technology. She says she will benefit greatly from the course on two levels, both in her academic and in her daily work. Nahed works with measuring science, technology and innovation indicators and her master is about the analysis of the innovation in Egyptian SMEs and how policies are used to enhance the innovation in Egypt aiming to achieve the global SDGs.

”The course meets all my expectations, it gives me more insight into how European countries measure innovation and how they face the new challenges during Global Crisis. I have also learned more about the importance of the informal economies, its measurement and how it will affect the sustainable development itself,” Nahed explains. 

David and Faith at one of the first lectures at LUSEM. Photo: Johan Persson

Threefolded motivation

Faith Mugisha Ahabyoona from Uganda, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at Cavendish University, says that her motivation for attending the course was threefolded; to do a replica of the course back home, to deepen her innovation knowledge and to come back being a better facilitator for her students and a better mentor at her faculty.  

”One of the core values in my work has been innovation and we lack curricula that is deliberate on introducing innovation studies but also the sustainability angle when looking at innovation, for building a sustainable economy for the country,” Faith says. 

Faith explains that in light of this situation she wanted to set up a replica of this course back home, to address these questions, but once in Lund she noticed that the course gave much more than she expected:

”I understood that if we are going to create a curricula with impact, it has to be done considering our history but also considering our future.”

”And to be taught by Bengt-Åke Lundvall on site, that is really something to tell my colleagues back home!” Faith concludes.

First-hand experience

Representing the African Union Development Agency – New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD), Mrs Pamla Gopaul who is originally from South Africa wanted to take this course to get a first-hand experience on knowledge capitalisation as far as the AUDA-NEPAD Policy Bridge Tank Initiative is concerned.

”We have an abundance of knowledge in Africa. However, we need to strengthen our dissemination and application capacity by translating it from policy into practice. This knowledge gap is not exclusive in Africa, but we see it on a global scale as well. The Government of Sweden have very successfully managed to work and make the connections with higher education institutions and business enterprises sectors in getting ready for the future and in also focusing on key priority areas. Being the Project Lead for the AUDA-NEPAD Policy Bridge Tank Initiative, the gap among African think tank to leverage on the existing stock of knowledge for use is still there. What we have been taught during the lectures will indeed help apply the learnings to our own context and working environment. More was brought to me as an eye-opener through various subjects under the history of economics and of innovation. At the same time, I benefited from the learning by sharing on the thesis and research work that was invaluable when it comes to understanding one’s culture and governance structure. This course should be incorporated in what we do back in Africa!”

One of the most innovative countries on earth

David Adeyeye from Nigeria has always found economics and innovation very intereresting and have worked a lot through the years with related subjects like capacity building. Previous opportunities to learn more about innovation were often related to economics and with a strong wish of getting down to the roots this course gave him a long-awaited opportunity to do that:

“Agriculture, digitalisation, ICTs and innovation indicators – assessing these from a holistic perspective to create an inclusive and sustainable economy made a great impression on me in addition to learning from experienced researchers like Christina Chaminade, Bengt-Ake Lundvall, Fred Gault and Martin Andersson. Sweden is one of the most innovative countries in the world, always among the top 3 on the Global Innovation Index. That’s why I really wanted to be here!” David says.

“When I go back, I will be a better member of faculty using what I have learned on the use of innovation policies to drive inclusive and sustainable development. An example is the practical steps to bridge the gap between industry and academia to create a knowledge society”, David explains.

The course participants got to listen to several well known researchers in economic history, innovation and technology. Photo: Johan Persson

The LundaCarnival: Instructive and unforgettable

And at last the, among students, world famous LundaCarnival happened to be on when these course participants were visiting Lund. Turns out that Pamla, Nahid, Faith and David had interesting thoughts about that too. What did they think about Lundakarnevalen of 2022?

”For me it is a unforgettable memory, i enjoyed it a lot!” says Nahed.

”I was really impressed, they showed a stated point. They were demanding like 'This is what we want to see our government do'. I can just imagine this happening in Uganda, if students came together and challenged our government. Many students graduate in my country but when they leave the university they have no jobs, because they can't find a connection between what they have studied and what is out there,” Faith explains.

”The carnival taught me how the communities sustain their culture for a long period, in terms of Swedish history. It's great that we come together in such a unity and vibe. It brings out a special atmosphere. If one can understand and respect each other's culture, then education for development will be transformative. It has been excellent to see the management system of the students, the energy, and the effort the students have put into organizing all this. It created a very good spirit for me!" says Pamla. 

”It was interesting to see how young students had been able to organize themselves and achieve something with so much energy with the goal to create something of this kind of magnitude,” David says.

”Another interesting experience was by the way our visit to the open air museum Kulturen the other day. The technology standard within for example agriculture of the Swedes 200 years ago is similiar to the standard of Africa today,” David adds.

The course ended with the participants giving a presentation each on the 3d of June and they have now returned to their home countries. The four weeks in Lund hopefully met all expectations of an educational stay offering knowledge on useful strategies for innovative sustainability solutions.

About the course

  • Developed at Department of Economic history, agreed upon through LUCE, financed by SIDA.
  • In addition to Senior lecturer in Economic History Martin Andersson, PhD students Clara Dallaire-Fortier and Linn Ternsjö at the Department of Economic History were responsible for running the course.
  • About ten researchers, from LUSEM and other universities, gave lectures during the course.
  • Part of a project called African Science, Technology and Innovation Indicators Initiative.
  • Part of a major project run by the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development, AUDA-NEPAD.
  • Its target groups are middle managers, or high-ranking public sector employees, active in innovation policy and innovation management.
  • Will be held once a year over a four-year period.
  • Aims to strengthen the capacity to develop the use of indicators for research, technology and innovation in planning and policy-making at the national, regional and continental levels in Africa.

Faith, David, Nahed and Pamla

Faith Mugisha Ahabyoona, Uganda. Dean of the Faculty of Business and Management at Cavendish University.

David Adeyeye, Nigeria. Assistant Director, National Centre for Technology Management, Nigeria.

Nahed Salem, Egypt. Master student and deputy director at the Academy of Scientific Research & Technology.

Pamla Gopaul, South Africa. Head: Policy Bridge Tank at African Union Development Agency – NEPAD.

Photos: Anna Löthman