Becoming and being an African scholar: a 15 year perspective on capacity building projects in Ghana

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Universities in Africa are increasingly seen as key drivers for development and, hence, as a focus point for development agencies in the North. Through the ENhancement of REsearch Capacity (ENRECA) programme 1989–2009, the Danish Development Agency has facilitated Ph.D. education and research in partnerships with African higher education institutions. As other capacity-building projects, ENRECA has been evaluated by donor-initiated missions looking at research output, degrees awarded and interviewing heads and administrators. But how did the individuals who opted for an academic career experience the process? – are they still part of the university system or have they found other opportunities? – and what do their narratives tell us about long-term capacity building? These are relevant questions to address for understanding the role of African Universities as drivers and actors in development processes. Through two analyses of nine narrative interviews with former ENRECA Ph.D. students from the University of Ghana, we unfold their encounter with the transition into becoming and being an African scholar. The analyses show that the processes of becoming a Ph.D. are important not only at the time of the Ph.D. study but also for the informants’ experiences of present possibilities. Four different academic life approaches are found that frame the informants’ re-telling of who they are, how they became who they are, and how the ENRECA programme affected these processes. The article concludes that the ENRECA programme facilitated several kinds of empowerment for the participants, not only during their Ph.D. studies but also in their job positions 15 years later.
Original languageEnglish
JournalForum for Development Studies
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)245-264
Publication statusPublished - 2015

ID: 130015659