Conference: Asia and Africa in Transition

Panel discussion: Research capacity development - What is the deal?

Hybrid format with in-person and virtual presentations, room 23.0.49

Conveners: Flemming Konradsen, Peter Furu, Bjørg Elvekjær and Ole F. Olesen, Global Health Section, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen

Universities and research institutions are recognised as key drivers of sustainable national development, and strengthening the capacities of these institutions in low- and middle income countries has therefore been a key priority in many bi-lateral and multi-lateral development aid programmes. This engagement has involved a wide range of external donors, especially from high-income countries representing different sectors, and cultures. The donors have often acted in isolation, with little or no coordination between them and often in pursuit of priorities that reflected their own value-based conditions and objectives rather than those of the recipient countries.

However, there are many indications that this scenario is changing. Inspired by the Paris declaration on aid effectiveness, and further catalysed by the consequences of globalisation in general, many donors are re-thinking their strategies. There has already been a significant shift from transfer of internationally research-generated knowledge and focus mainly on supporting individual Master and PhD scholarships to also support the strengthening of capacities at the institutional level. Based on the assumption that effective change processes must be driven by the partner institutions themselves, interventions now increasingly focus on the upgrading of the local programmes, systems, services and infrastructure and strengthening the institutions’ capacities to reach out and actively engage society on all levels.

Secondly, the traditional pattern of donors and recipients is also in transition. E.g. the emergence of new powerful economies in many Asian and some African countries has resulted in an increase of new donors who contribute to pave the way for new combinations and stronger partnerships and networks in and between these regions.

The panel will present and discuss the aims and the impact of research capacity building collaboration in a rapidly changing global landscape with a specific focus on support provided to PhD scholarships and PhD training programmes and institutional research environments.

The panel will comprise a selection of donors and university partners who will share and discuss successes and constraints of different modalities and selected interventions. The programme will also include pre-recorded testimonials from researchers about the influence of the given funding of their PhD education and research work on their career paths.


  • Garry Aslanyan, Manager of donor relations, governance and partnership, the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases ESSENCE (Health Research Initiative)
  • Ulla Næsby Tawiah, Director, Danida Fellowship Centre
  • Elton Kisanga; ‎Director, Research & Consultancy, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical University College (KCMUCo)
  • Kristin Skare Orgeret, Professor, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, OsloMet
  • Richard Adanu; Rector, Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons/University of Ghana


Jørgen Skytte, Organisational Capacity Development Specialist, IMPAKT

Programme 29 June

Room: 23.0.49

15:30   Welcome and introduction by Ole Frilev Olesen, Executive Director of the European Vaccine Initiative/Affiliated Professor at the Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen
15:40    Testimonials from researchers about their career paths and partnerships
15:55 Panel members’ experiences of successes and constraints in research capacity development collaboration / followed by comments and questions
16:35 Panel members’ views on new trends and opportunities for research capacity development collaboration / followed by comments and questions
17:15 Thank you and goodbye