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About AAP


Convening.pngParticipants at the initial AAP convening participate in design-thinking exercises to help imagine the future of partnerships between MSU and Africa.

Founded by Michigan State University in 2016 in collaboration with African colleagues, the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) is a consortium of MSU, ten leading African universities, and a distinguished network for African research institutes. AAP members are committed to working in equitable partnership to transform lives and address global challenges. The AAP builds on MSU’s long-term engagement in Africa, building on the foundation laid by the African Studies Center and evolving models of engagement in line with AAP’s guiding principles of accountability, equity, inclusivity, sustainability and transparency.

AAP takes a cooperative approach to addressing global challenges by building networks across all sectors—including universities, NGOs, government, and the private sector— to partner around core thematic areas including agri-food systems; water, energy, and the environment; culture; youth empowerment; education; and health and nutrition. AAP has also identified three program pillars focused on 1) building bridges across sectors, disciplines, and continents; 2) transforming institutions so they are better able to engage in equitable and sustainable partnerships; and 3) transforming lives on the ground through engaged research and scholarship that address shared challenges. Gender and inclusion, and policy are both cross-cutting themes of the AAP and are woven into all AAP-sponsored and implemented activities. AAP catalyzes, supports, and mobilizes its multidirectional partnerships in such a way that the resulting activities positively transform institutions and livelihoods in Africa, the U.S., and beyond.

Consortium members are well-situated to work together with other partners to address many of the most pressing challenges of our time. The AAP effectively leverages consortium members’ expertise and networks to position the members at the forefront of development and globalization initiatives on the continent, broadening long-term collaborative relationships among African universities, MSU and other partner institutions, and ultimately making positive change in Africa and globally.

Currently, AAP is primarily funded through an initial annual investment from MSU, with the goal of long-term sustainability through shared investment from consortium members and external funders. This initial investment is already showing strong returns for members not only in terms of attracting external funding, but also in raising the visibility and reputation of their institutions and the AAP consortium.

Priority Areas

The Alliance for African Partnership is a collaborative and cross-disciplinary platform to address today’s global challenges in a way that is sustainable, effective, and equitable. As such, the AAP has identified mutually defined challenges that fall into six highly interrelated themes:

  • Agri-food systems
  • Water, energy, and the environment
  • Culture
  • Youth empowerment
  • Education
  • Health and nutrition

Priority Areas.PNG


To transform lives through co-created, research-driven initiatives that address shared challenges


To initiate and support innovative, sustainable, and equitable partnerships among African institutions, MSU, and other collaborators

Guiding Principles

Accountability · Equity · Inclusivity · Sustainability · Transparency


Building Bridges

building-bridges.pngThe AAP seeks to bring people and organizations together to work toward common goals. Global challenges are too vast and complex for any person or institution to go it alone. We envision and work toward innovative models of partnership that will address these challenges—facilitating new relationships between people and organizations that may not have traditionally worked together in the past. Bridges need to be built between government, NGOs, industry, educational institutions, researchers across different disciplines, and among institutions across Africa and the globe.

Example Activities: grants to multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary research teams; fellowships and other exchange opportunities for faculty and students; workshops and symposia; and the AAP digital portal -- our interface that connects community members to one another and to the resources they need to support sustainable connections.

Transforming Institutions

transforming-institutions.pngLarge-scale and long-term partnerships are not possible without institutions to take part in them and support them. In order to transform the way we partner, we must also transform the institutions that participate in the partnerships to be more effective and engaged. This pillar focuses on promoting sustainable and effective partnerships that enhance institutional resources and increase institutional capacity.

Example activities: grants and workshops as well as the establishment of working groups that can be supported by the AAP portal; production of research on innovative partnership that leads to institutional transformation and will be disseminated in scholarly journals, on the AAP portal, and in AAP publications such as the 2017 Rethinking African Partnerships publication; integration of capacity strengthening components into grant and research proposals.

Transforming Lives

transforming-lives.pngBuilding Bridges and Transforming Institutions form the foundation for the third pillar of Transforming Lives, which is the ultimate goal of the work that the Alliance seeks to support. The AAP seeks to support research and initiatives that will translate into real-world impact to improve African lives and livelihoods. We envision that the work the Alliance supports under this pillar will address complex and pressing challenges from climate change to youth empowerment to cultural preservation to improving agri-food systems.

Example activities: innovating research-to-practice methodologies through research grants, workshops, symposia and other activities; improving dissemination of research outputs to practitioners and into business opportunities; connecting researchers to policymaking; building capacity for our grantees and fellows to create meaningful change through partnership activities (workshops, working groups, networking and dissemination of results through this portal) and resources; facilitating engagement of early career faculty and students with a focus on women and other groups often under-represented in leadership.