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Overview of the Year 2020 and some 2021 highlights at PAU

|   PAU

As we have turned the 2020 page to start the next chapter in 2021, it is important to make a retrospective review of activities carried out last year to draw up the blue print for this New Year.

As you are aware, the Pan African University (PAU) was created followingDecision (Assembly/AU/Dec.290 (XV)) of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union during its fifteenth Ordinary Session in July 2010 in Kampala, Uganda.

The principal aim of establishing the Pan African University was to create high quality continental institutions that promote quality training, research and innovation within Africa, ensure a steady nurturing of new ideas and also a continuous injection of highly skilled human resources to meet the developmental needs of the continent.

The Pan African University (PAU) recorded a lot of progress in 2020, starting with the operationalization of the Pan African E and Virtual University (PAVEU) whose programmes where launched in January.

In February, PAU organized its first 2020 Planning and Coordination meeting in Nairobi, Kenya. The meeting aimed at taking stock of the progress made in each institute to ensure compliance with the annual calendar, policies and programmes.


Activities were going on smoothly in the various university institutes and the Rectorate until the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which hindered some activities, especially defences which were already scheduled and had to be postponed.


However, activities were not paralyzed at PAU as, several alternatives, including a hybrid teaching method, were implemented to disseminate courses. Home working was another alternative for administrative staff, and these measures proved to be effective.


In line with the former training session organized for IT and Communication Officers, Virtual training workshops were also organized on PAU web management and web training.


Another major activity carried out in 2020, was the launching of the 2020-2021 Call for Applications at PAU. 14,006 applications were received including 3401 from female candidates and 10,605 from male candidates, all coming from 52 African Union Member States. The results of the selection process are now available. They were released on the last week of January and students will be notified on the first week of  February 2021.


The Pan African University Council also held its fifth session last year, and among the points on the agenda, was the adoption of a candidate selection method includingcriteria such as merit, country representation, gender and Member State contribution.


The management of some PAU institutes was also renewed in the course of the year 2020. PAUGHSS welcomed its new Director, Professor Elizabeth Sarange Bosire ABENGA just like PAULESI whichwas granted a new Director, Professor Esther Titilayo AKINLABI. They were respectively commissioned in October and November 2020. Still at PAUGHSS, a new Coordinator of the Translation and Interpretation programmes, Dr. Gandu Sebastien, was also appointed last year.


It should be worth noting that PAULESI is currently building its administrative block which will surely be completed this year. Other developmentsat PAULESI include various partnerships signed between the institute and some institutions including PANVAC and the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa.


Unlike PAUGHSS and PAULESI which welcomed new Directors, Prof. Magoma and Prof Zerga were respectively maintained in their positions in PAUSTI and PAUWES, following a rigorousselection process which resulted in them being the best candidates for the institutes. Following the selection process, Prof. Magoma was commissioned by HRST Commissioner in December 2020. 

Within the framework of this ceremony, and in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic, PAUSTI students developed “super hand washing machines to limit the spread of diseases related to sanitation such as covid-19”.This group of PAUSTI students and an alumnus is made up of engineers from Cameroon, Burundi, Zimbabwe and Uganda, a reflection of the true meaning of working together as Africans to solve Africa’s problems. 

Between April and October 2020, they developed a series of solar automatic hand washing machines that will enable communities to wash their hands without having to touch neither the tap nor the soap vessel, thereby, limiting the risk of contamination during hand washing. 

The Washa Project, as they named it, has been very successful and has been taken to the international scene in various ways. This goes a long way to boost not only the image of PAUSTI, but most importantly, it translates the vision of the Pan African University (PAU): ‘Advancing Africa with African Expertise’.


Actually, most of the materials and applications used to develop the automatic hand washing machine are locally fabricated at the workshop. The Washa machines shall not only be useful during this period of Covid-19 but will be of major importance for personal and public hygiene. Such machines can be used even in the remotest areas of Africa. 


In order to accommodate with the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, PAU institutes opted for a hybrid defence method. Thus, online and physical defences were organized in the various institutes with the latest being that of MATKISSAM Gouverneur Fayçal PhD student atPAUGHSS who defended his PhD thesis on 28 November 2020 and was awarded the mark of 18.5/20, with the Mention Very Honorable.


Innovative initiatives were put in place at the Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES). In fact, students launched two initiatives including a one week celebration of the African Youth Month, with virtual workshops organized in collaboration with eminent professors and professionals, and the first edition of the Innovation Challenge.


The Graduation period was also launched by the end of the year 2020, starting with the graduation of PhD students in PAULESI on 17 November 2020. The graduation of Master’s and PhD students of PAUSTI took place on 18 December 2020. The graduands included 13 PhD students out of which 10 male and 3 female students, and 32 Master’s students including 26 male and 6 female students, making a total of 45 graduands from 20 African countries (Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe).

Considering the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, hybrid and online graduation ceremonies were organized. PAUSTI opted for a hybrid graduation ceremony, with an online Master’s graduation ceremony and a physical graduation ceremony for PhD graduands. A total of 45 graduands out of which 32 Master’s graduandsdistributed as follows: 26 male and 6 female students, and 13 PhD students including 10 male and 3 female students, all coming from 20 AU Member States (Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe) were celebrated on 19 December 2020.


The Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences including Climate Change (PAUWES) organized an online graduation ceremony.A total of 55 students, 27 male and 28 female students graduated. They weredistributed as follows: 14 students in Energy Engineering, 12 students in Energy Policy, 16 students in Water Engineering and 13 students in Water Policy, all coming from 25 African Union Member States:Algeria, Benin, Burundi, Botswana, Cameroon, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


It was a fully interactive virtual graduation ceremony that genuinely connected faculty, students and stakeholders in real-time through MS Team, regardless of their location. The ceremony was graced by welcome remarks from several high ranking officials including, the Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, H.E. Prof. Sarah Anyang Agbor, the Wali of Tlemcen, H.E. Algerian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research or his/her representative, Prof. Megnounif Abdellatif, Rector of the host university, President of the PAU Administrative Council, The German Ambassador in Algeria, and the PAUWES Director. 


Within the framework of activities marking the first semester of the year 2021,the Pan African University has launched a Call for part-time academic staff to teach in the Master’s and Doctoral programs for the 2021 Academic Year.

Another event includes the publication of selection results for the 2020-2021 PAU Academic Scholarship. In accordance with the academic calendar approved by the PAU Council, students are to be notified of selection results in early January 2021. Theyare also expected to be enrolled between mid-January and the first half of February and shall start classes between the first half and second half of February.


Other major highlights in this semester will be the Graduation ceremony at the Pan African University Institute of Governance Humanities and Social Sciences (PAUGHSS) and the election of the President of the PAU Council during the African Union Summit in February.


The election of the President of the PAU Council is provided under Article 9 (2) of the Revised Statute of PAU as follows: “The Executive Council shall elect the President and Vice President of the PAU Council from a list of five candidates presented by the Bureau of the STC. The candidates presented shall be citizens of AU Member States”.


Succeeding to Prof. Professor Tolly S.A. Mbwette,who died on 02 July 2020, Prof. Pierre Dominique NZINZI who is the incumbent president was elected in January 2018 for a three-year mandate renewable once by Decision Assembly/AU/DEC.675 (XXX) on the election of the President and Vice-President of the Pan-African University Council. As his mandate is expiring this year, Prof. NZINZI who is competing for another mandate as PAU Council President could be reelected or replaced.

Within the framework of the election of six AU Commissioners, the Department of Human Resources Science and Technology will also welcome a new Commissioner as the mandate of the incumbent has also expired.

Elections which will take place in February 2021 are organized within the framework of AU institutional reform according to which only 6 Commissioners instead of 8 shall be elected. In addition, regions whose candidates shall be elected as President or Vice President shall not be eligibleto Commissioner positions.