A partnership with academia

Building knowledge for trade and development


Salvador Mondlane (foreground), of Mozambique's Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, during the Virtual Intitute workshop on natural resources held July 2010 in Tanzania.Participants of the Vi natural resources workshop held in Tanzania in July report success in applying the knowledge acquired on oil, gas and minerals to their teaching, research, and policy-related activities. The workshop was part of the Vi project funded by the Government of Norway.

"We were able to incorporate some of the topics related to module six (Mining and Economic Development) into the Mineral Resources Management MSc course material that we are developing," writes Salvador Mondlane, of Vi Mozambican member, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. He added that in his role as advisor to the African Union, the Vi materials on oil and gas "are very important as reference for the meetings we have."

Teachers at other African universities also integrated the materials into their classes. John Lungu, from Zambia's Copperbelt University, used the materials to enhance his economic development course, while Anani Noureddine Mensah, from Togo's University of Lomé, prepared lectures in French for his students in the Master's of Economics programme.

The workshop also sparked the development of research projects on minerals. Lyman Mlambo from the University of Zimbabwe's Institute of Mining Research, turned the presentation he made at the workshop into "Determinants of mining investment in Zimbabwe," a research paper recently published in the Global Conference Business and Finance Proceedings, Vol. 6, No. 1.

Also emerging from the workshop were mentored research projects, whereby the researchers get mentoring and financial support through the Virtual Institute. Participants responded with five research proposals, four of which were granted funding and are currently under way, namely projects relating to gold in Mali, phosphates in Togo, several mining industries in Guinea, and oil and gas in Uganda. These projects are being undertaken in cooperation with UNCTAD's Special Unit on Commodities.

"I have been able to use the materials distributed as well as ideas that were voiced at the workshop in the areas of research, policy advice and general work here at the (Uganda) Ministry of Energy & Mineral Development," writes Paul Basudde, whose proposal was selected for the Vi mentored projects. "This project is quite interesting and an eye opener to new ideas. It boosts my academic maturity as a result of the continued interaction from you, Giacomo (Luciani, the project's mentor) and my co-applicant, Bruno (Lula Yawe, from Makerere University)."

Ideas from the workshop are also making their way into policymaking, as Bassude was appointed to the core team tasked to plan and manage monitoring and evaluation of Uganda's national oil and gas policy, and Mlambo will co-author a paper on the the mining industry in Zimbabwe with the Chief Government Mining Engineer and the Technical Advisor of the Chamber of Mines.

In addition, Mensah used the workshop material in his work in the Commission on International Negotiations, in particular in drafting the terms of reference for the international trade policy of Togo; Lungu, who was invited to brief the parliament on the role of extractive industries in the economic development of the country, used workshop materials for the part of his briefing concerning taxation and transparency initiatives; Bangaly Kouyaté from the Faculty of Economics and Management, University of Conakry, shared the materials with his colleagues and jointly used them in their consultancy work.