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How We Work

Establishing a New Model of Partnership

As Africa’s place on the world stage has grown and evolved, many of the models of external engagement with the continent have not. Old paradigms that reinforced uneven power dynamics and subverted African priorities have not met their intended goals of global development, and have in fact hampered them.

Recognizing that prevailing models of partnership between U.S. and African institutions are outdated and unsustainable, MSU brought its faculty, students and staff together with African thought-leaders in May 2016 to co-create a vision of the future of partnerships between MSU and Africa. This convening—an intensive, three-day, design thinking workshop on MSU’s campus—demonstrated the need for a truly Africa-centered initiative that would directly address African challenges and effect positive change through innovative, equitable partnerships involving engaged research, outreach, and capacity strengthening.

From this convening, the AAP was created as a model of engagement that prioritizes co-creation and equitable partnership principles while supporting the development of knowledge that will transform institutions and lives. Based on feedback from MSU’s leadership and under the guidance of an advisory board composed of MSU and African leaders, AAP identified three program pillars focused on building bridges across sectors, disciplines, and continents; transforming institutions so they are better able to engage in equitable and sustainable partnerships; and transforming lives on the ground through engaged research and scholarship that address shared challenges.

Although AAP began as an MSU-led initiative, it officially adopted a consortium model in October 2018, and now comprises MSU and nine leading African universities. This approach ensures that AAP’s work is Africa-led and moves beyond older models of North-South engagement to be more sustainable and impactful. In the future, the consortium will expand to include other African and U.S. universities as well as representatives from pan-African organizations, civil society, and the public and private sectors. These consortium members will work in partnership to make a sustainable impact in priority challenge areas.

AAP Governance Structure

AAP Governance Structure

AAP's Competitive Advantage

• AAP is focused on making a direct impact on global challenges that African partners have identified as priorities. We are undertaking this work as a consortium of institutions who bring complementary strengths to the table, ensuring that we will have a broad and sustainable impact.

• AAP has a network of world-class researchers that it can connect to research and development opportunities.

• AAP promotes world-class research that transforms lives while contributing to advances in rankings, reputation and revenues of the institutions involved.

• AAP fosters active collaboration among members of the consortium and catalyzes engagement among consortium affiliates, governments, and the private sector to effectively scale out best practices and outreach-related work that will achieve a meaningful transformation of society.

• AAP connects members to pan-African organizations such as the African Union Development Agency, the African Development Bank, and Regional Economic Communities, which are key to unlocking untapped support for the work of universities and related institutions.

• AAP provides an opportunity to leverage both North-South and South-South cooperation among universities and organizations in Africa, developed countries, and emerging economies such as China, India, Brazil, and Malaysia.

• AAP member researchers participate in a number of events (conferences, fora, convenings, etc.) in Africa, Europe, and the U.S., increasing the visibility of faculty with policy-makers and donors across three continents.

• AAP provides a mechanism to engage early-career faculty in research opportunities by reducing transaction costs of engagement on the continent.