The Association of African Universities North Africa Regional Office (AAU NARO) was launched at a high-level, colourful and well attended ceremony hosted by Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt on the 12th March 2019. Al-Azhar University, which was founded in October 975 AD, is a founding member of the Association of Africa Universities.
An impressive number of one thousand five hundred (1500) delegates graced the occasion including Prof Ahmed El-Tayeb the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Prof Khaled Abdel Ghaffar the Egypt Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Prof Mohamed Hussein Al Mahrasawy the President of Al-Azhar University, Ambassador Abdulhamid Bu Zaher the Representative of the African Union Commission, Prof Orlando Antonio Quilambo the AAU President, Prof Etienne Ehouan Ehile the AAU Secretary General, Mr Peter Kwasi Kodjie the Secretary General of the All Africa Students Union (AASU), Diplomats, Staff of the AAU Secretariat, Academics from other universities in Egypt, Academics and administrative staff from several African countries, Staff and Students from Al Azhar University and the general public.
The AAU North Africa Regional Office, hosted by Al-Azhar University, is the second AAU Regional Office to be launched – after the East Africa Regional Office (EARO) was launched at the University of Khartoum in Sudan on the 14th of March 2018.
The main goal of the AAU North Africa Regional Office is to increase the impact of AAU’s activities in North Africa and maximise the benefits of AAU to the membership universities in North Africa. This decentralization of the Association’s activities is expected to help improve both the visibility of the AAU and the quality of Higher Education in Africa.
The Grand Imam, Sheikh Professor Ahmed El-Tayeb pledged his support for the AAU North Africa Regional Office and spoke about the need for peace in the world and the eradication of extremism. The Grand Imam is the Head of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seat of learning at Al-Azhar University. The influential Cleric previously met Pope Francis in February 2019 and they brokered an agreement pledging that Al-Azhar and the Vatican will work together to fight extremism, hateful attitudes and hostility.
In his address the President of Al-Azhar University Professor Mohamed El-Mahrasawy said that Egypt was proud of belonging to Africa and emphasized that Al-Azhar University was not a local or regional institution, but an international institution, where more than 33,000 students from all over the world are studying. He indicated that there were currently 5,000 African students studying at Al-Azhar University.
In his remarks the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Egypt, Professor Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, brought greetings from the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. He reiterated the Government of Egypt’s unflinching support for the AAU North Africa Regional Office – saying that this regional office tied in neatly with the Agenda 2063 vision of an integrated continent.
The President of the Association of African Universities Professor Orlando Antonio Quilambo stated that the idea of establishing regional hubs of the AAU was not only for increasing the visibility of the Association’s programmes “but more importantly to facilitate effective networking among ourselves first at the country levels, sub-regional levels and then at the continental level”. He said that the current AAU Governing Board had committed itself to pursue this agenda during its four-year mandate.
Professor Etienne Ehile thanked the Government of Egypt, the Grand Imam and the leadership of Al-Azhar University for working hard to make the launch of the AAU North Africa Regional Office a reality. He emphasized that there was a need for African countries to work together to tap into the capacities that are resident in other African countries – citing the example that Al-Azhar University had the capacity to train medical students while most sub-Saharan universities had limited capacities.
A Good Will message was presented by Dr Faiza Mohamed Osman Mahmoud the Coordinator of the East Africa Regional Office. She congratulated Al-Azhar University and the AAU on the successful launch of the North Africa Regional Office – pledging to work closely with them.
The Secretary-General of the All Africa Students Union (AASU), Mr Peter Kwasi Kodjie expressed AASU’s desire to collaborate closer with students in the sub-region.
Various Diplomats and members of the AAU Governing Board that were present also presented their good will messages. The distinguished members of the AAU Governing Board that were present are:
The week’s events in Cairo include the Maiden African Universities Olympics that will officially commence on the 14th of March 2019 – organized by the Association of African Universities in collaboration with Al Azhar University and the Ministry of Youth and Sport of Egypt.
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Contact Details for the AAU North Africa Regional Office
Prof Amany El-Sharif – The Coordinator
Al Azhar University
Telephone: +20 111 066 0444