A delegation of senior Ethiopian diplomats — led by the Education Minister of the Ethiopian government, His Excellency Demeke Mekonnen — visited The University of Nottingham to meet staff and students.
The aim of the visit was to further strengthen the very strong relationship that has developed between The University of Nottingham and universities in Ethiopia over the past eight years: Ethiopian students are now studying in Nottingham, and Nottingham graduate Dr Ignacio Villar is a lecturer at Addis Ababa University. Dr Pete Licence, Associate Professor and Reader in Chemistry at Nottingham, is also Adjunct Professor in Addis.
The Minister was accompanied by His Excellency Berhanu Kebede, the Ethiopian Ambassador to the UK and senior figures from the Ethiopian embassy, Biruk Mekonnen and Tewolde Mulugeta; as well as Solomon Shiferaw, head of policy and planning at the education ministry in Addis Ababa, and Netsanet Demewoz, Business Director at the British Council.
Discussions were held to decide how best to set up twinning programmes in the future. Professor Christine Ennew, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation at The University of Nottingham, told the Minister that Nottingham has set up five new scholarships for Ethiopian students and it was agreed to draw up a Memorandum of Understanding for the development of further links.
Professor Ennew said: “With our ‘Developing Solutions’ scheme, The University of Nottingham has one of the UK’s largest scholarship programmes for Africa and we are looking to build on this to strengthen links in Ethiopia with a particular focus on research collaboration and student exchange. We are particularly keen to see these links extend beyond our campus in the UK to our campuses in Malaysia and China.”
The visit took in a guided tour of the School of Chemistry — a school which has developed especially strong links with Ethiopia over the past eight years. Nottingham staff have been instrumental in helping to introduce ‘Green Chemistry’ in Ethiopia, an emerging field of sustainable science that will help African nations to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Green Chemistry — a field in which the University is a world leader — focuses on more sustainable ways of creating chemicals, and is now regarded as one of the major routes to more environmentally-friendly production of the chemicals that underpin modern society.
The work of Nottingham academics with colleagues in Ethiopia began with a chance meeting between Professor Martyn Poliakoff CBE FRS and scientists from the University of Addis Ababa, while Martyn was on holiday in Ethiopia in 2003.
Today, Green Chemistry is sufficiently developed there to enable African scientists to participate more fully in the search for new chemicals, processes and techniques that could impact on millions of people.
Much current research is focused on the search for renewable feedstocks and more environmentally acceptable solvents as replacements for petroleum-based products. This makes Green Chemistry particularly relevant to the needs of African countries such as Ethiopia, faced with an increasing demand for chemicals, little or no indigenous oil, and rapidly expanding populations.
Professor Poliakoff has been instrumental in developing links between Nottingham and Addis Ababa through staff visits, conferences, workshops and collaborative research. In July 2010, the eminent Ethiopian plant scientist, Professor Sebsebe Demissew, received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science at The University of Nottingham’s summer graduation.
Professor Poliakoff said: “Collaborating with Ethiopia has been an enormously rewarding experience for me and my colleagues. The Nottingham link is really helping empower Ethiopian scientists and helping them engage with scientists across the world as equals. We believe that the discussions held today will give a major boost to the Nottingham-Ethiopia partnership.”
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PICTURES of the visit are available from the Communications Office at The University of Nottingham — contact details below.
Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham, described by The Times as “the nearest Britain has to a truly global university”, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings.
The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 39,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power.
The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.