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About AAP


In May 2016, Michigan State University consulted with 14 African leaders across a range of backgrounds and expertise to create a new type of partnership. The premise of this convening was that a change needs to occur in the structure of prevailing development-oriented trends. This change will lead to more sustainable and mutually beneficial forms of collaboration, resulting in more effective outcomes for society.

This convening of MSU faculty and African associates laid down the groundwork for the Alliance for African Partnership (AAP). The Alliance 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

The Alliance is a work in progress. At its core is the vision that the process of defining and implementing collaborations is a crucial and under-appreciated basis of the success of any project. Its activities will surely evolve over time as we widen our network of collaborators and become increasingly sensitized to each other’s perspectives and experiences. Through this initiative, MSU will continually strive to be a leader in co-developing best practices for partnerships in Africa.


The Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) seeks to promote sustainable, effective, and equitable long-term partnerships among African institutions, Michigan State University, and other international collaborators. The AAP strives to build networks across all sectors (universities, NGOs, government, and private sector) to engage with development challenges that fall within our thematic areas. The mission of the AAP is to mobilize and support these partnerships in such a way that the resulting activities positively transform institutions and livelihoods in Africa. 


Building Bridges

pillar_building-bridges.jpgThe 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

pillar_transforming-institutions.jpgLarge-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

pillar_transforming_lives.jpgBuilding 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.