Africa as a continent is committed to exploiting available opportunities by harnessing all available resources – nationally and through regional partnerships – in order to implement concrete actions and programmes, to realize the continent’s hopes and dreams (NEPAD 2003, 2006). The same approach, of making the most of available opportunities, is being used inthe Millennium Development Goal-centred Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers of the continent’s governments. Strengthening agricultural productivity and the value-addition chain through science-led intervention is widely viewed as essential to stimulating economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Implementing an innovative, timely and clientresponsive research-for-development (R4D) agenda, termed by some commentators and/or practitioners “the doubly green revolution” in acknowledgement of previous green interventions,1 is essential to bolstering productivity and the entire value chain (Conway 2004). Accordingly, investing in capacity development through education/training and research is critical to ensuring that the SSA’s own ‘innovation generation’ is nurtured. Indeed, development of human capital is a core focus of Millennium Development Goal-based development strategies (UNDP 2003). Universities in SSA are cognizant of their role in this regard and of the need to redouble – even transform – their efforts to produce the quality human resources and other products needed for the continent’s development. The challenges universities face are nurturing relevant, innovative and adaptive people, and generating innovations. To ensure relevance, effectiveness and efficiency, and to anchor universities better in SSA development paradigms, requires changes to the way universities conduct their business. It requires adaptiveness and an innovative approach to universities’ three core functions of education/training, research and outreach. It also requires dynamic institutional frameworks to promote partnerships; active engagement on the part of university clientele/end-users and other development partners;the improvement and use of quality enhancement mechanisms;and the pooling of resources in a bid to enhance economiesof scale, scope and impact. To achieve these outcomes, universities and their partners need to address a number of key challenges that limit higher education’s contribution to national development.
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