UCLA and Africa: A history of partnership, a future of shared progress

Global Outreach

On days when Romeo Kamta has to go to his off-campus research station, it doesn’t mean getting in his car and hitting the Southern California freeways. Instead, it means hiking about 20 miles through dense rainforest to reach the Bouamir Research Station, which is only accessible by foot. Kamta is the camp manager of the Congo Basin Institute, UCLA’s first international affiliate that was formed in 2015 with in-country partner International Institute of Tropical Agriculture. Kamta is based full time in Cameroon, where he is rising young scientist.

As a public university filled with people dedicated to making a positive impact, UCLA has people like Kamta living and working in sub-Saharan Africa, partnering with higher education and nonprofit leaders, community members, the private sector, physicians, scientists, students and researchers to help them develop treatments and solutions to complex issues like malnutrition and environmental sustainability.

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block; Cindy Fan, vice provost for international studies and global engagement; Patricia Turner, senior dean and vice provost of undergraduate education; Charles Alexander, associate vice provost for student diversity and director of the Academic Advancement Program; and several other UCLA administrators and faculty, are in Africa from Jan. 27 through Jan. 30 learning more about the field work being done in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes projects in Cameroon, Malawi and Mozambique.

They also joined a UCLA delegation that included Abel Valenzuela, director of the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and professor of Chicana and Chicano studies, at the Diversity in Higher Education Colloquium in Bloemfontein, South Africa, an annual interdisciplinary conference co-hosted by the University of the Free State in South Africa, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and UCLA. The tripartite collaboration established in 2014 aims to promote diversity and equity in higher education institutions across the globe through research, teaching and collaboration. This year’s conference, attended by about 70 people from five countries, focused on the ways many students, staff and faculty confront fragility and resilience in their daily discourse and interactions, and through media, politics and more.

“UCLA’s partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa have been incredibly successful in helping tackle regional issues to improve quality of life,” Block said. “As a public research university, it is important for UCLA to both share our expertise as well as learn from and collaborate with colleagues around the world for the advancement of society.”

Read more on UCLA Newsroom.