In 2009, the Goethe-University of Frankfurt/Main (Germany) and the German Research Foundation (DFG) established the “Programme Point Sud” in order to fund Africa-related workshops and conferences in the humanities and social sciences at Point Sud.
The principal aims of the program are:
- to establish a platform in Africa for exchange between scientists and institutions from Germany, Europe, Africa and other parts of the world,
- to foster networking along the North-South as well as the South-South-axis,
- to promote young scholars,
- to overcome language barriers and academic traditions of thought,
- to interact more closely with civil society in Africa.
Accordingly, topics that are socially and politically relevant to Africa are privileged.
To date, the 19 international conferences and workshops of the program have been hosted by the “Point Sud Research Centre for Local Knowledge” predominately in Bamako/Mali but also in Dakar and in Ouagadougou between 2009 and 2013. For the programme 2014, the institutional basis will be enlarged through the creation of a new network. The members of this network are:
- Point Sud and University of Bamako, Mali,
- African Centre for Research on the Trade and Slavery (CARTE) and University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar, Senegal,
- Centre for Democratic Governance (CGD) and University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso,
- Centre for Research on the Politics and Development of the Spaces and Societies in Sub-Saharan Africa (CERGEP) and University Omar Bongo, Libreville, Gabon,
- Laboratory for the Study and Research on Social Dynamics and Local Development (LASDEL) and University Abdou Moumouni, Niamey, Niger,
- Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) and Stellenbosch University, South Africa,
- Goethe University Frankfurt/Main, Germany,
- Maison des Sciences de l’Homme Ange-Guépin (MSH) and the CNRS at Nantes, France.
The creation of this new African-European network and the beginning of the new funding phase by the DFG will be inaugurated by a conference hosted by the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in South Africa. This will not only be the occasion to discuss the future development of the program among the members of the network, but also to exchange views with other experts on South-South cooperation from different parts of Africa and the world.
Therefore, the basic idea and goal of the conference is to discuss examples of South-South-cooperation between African partners, but also between African, Asian and Latin American partners. These examples should highlight positive as well as negative experiences. One crucial aspect is the role of language for the success or failure of cooperation. Another question will be if independent research institutes or universities in Africa can successfully support the development of the continent and civil society and which role South-South-cooperation could play to achieve this aim. Last but not least, the discussion will also be centered around the question of the role played by European partners in future cooperation given the fact that the rise of new potential partners in the South provide African institutions with new alternatives to the classic North-South-axis.