Focus Africa

The University of Helsinki's new Africa program 2021-2030 takes our interaction with African partners to a new level. Through equal, long-standing and mutually beneficial partnerships we aim to intensify our collaboration and engagement in research, education and impact for a more sustainable and equal world.
University of Helsinki Africa Programme 2021-2030

The University of Helsinki (UH) is a community of research and learning based on courageous thought and dialogue with a mission to seek new knowledge and enable solutions. We believe that knowledge and learning are for everyone. Our ambition is to increase our global impact and build a more sustainable world together with our African partners.


Here is a taster of our events: take a look at out Africa Day webinar!

We have diverse expertise and almost one hundred scholars working on Africa-related research on our campuses.

Read more about our programs, our new initiatives and dive into the wide-ranging expertise present at the University! 

Strategic partnership with the University of Nairobi

The University of Helsinki and the University of Nairobi forged a strategic partnership on March 24, 2021.

In their collaboration, they focus on three spearheads:

  • One Health
  • Food Security
  • Teacher Education

The Universities also run the One Health Early Career Champions Mentoring Programme, supporting the cultivation of talent and career advancement of early career researchers. The programme is open for doctoral students at the University of Helsinki and University of Nairobi with a focus on One Health. Stay tuned for the calls in the programme here!

Africa Early Career Mobility Programme

The Africa Early Career Mobility Programme at the University of Helsinki supports talented young African researchers and connects them with world-class academics and leading researchers at the University of Helsinki. It offers monthly grants of 3400 € for a 3-10 month stay at the University of Helsinki. The early career researchers must have a connection to a Principal Investigator working at the University of Helsinki with whom new collaboration is being planned.

The programme is a three-year pilot. The first call was held in April 2022 and the second one in March 2023. 

The final call of the programme is open until March 15, 2024 (16.00 EET). Please note that applications are submitted by Principal Investigators at the University of Helsinki who would like to host a visit of an early career researcher.

    The Africa Early Career Mobility Programme is a part of the University of Helsinki’s Africa programme 2021-2030. With a budget of 500.000 € spanning three years, the goal is to increase engagement with Africa and support new ambitious ideas for research and education collaboration. Sustainability is at the heart of the programme and funded applications have a link to UN's Sustainable Development Goals.

    During the first round of the programme, we host six excellent researchers at three different campuses:


    Funded applications from the City Centre campus:

    Dr. Jules Mansaly (the Gambia), together with Professor Friederike Lüpke (February-May 2023)

    During his visit at the University of Helsinki, Dr Jules Mansaly will work together with Prof. Dr. Friederike Lüpke and her team and concentrate his researches on the LILIEMA programme; it is a literacy method created by Prof. Friederike Lüpke to learn and teach basic literacy skills in local languages in highly multilingual contexts. This will be equipped with tools and knowledge he will disseminate in Senegal and The Gambia, particularly through his literacy project in his Book Centre in Samine, Senegal.

    Dr. Aynalem Megersa (Ethiopia), together with Professor Elina Oinas (February-May 2023)

    Dr. Aynalem Megersa has been engaged in a collaborative research project EDIT (2019-2022), funded by the Academy of Finland, which strives to strengthen societal capacity to enhance gender equality and thereby democracy and human rights in Africa. Her focus is on feminist scholarship in Ethiopia and the project has created an excellent possibility for in-depth research with mutual learning benefits.  During her visit, Dr. Megersa will work closely with Professor Elina Oinas (PI, EDIT project, Swedish School of Social Science) and other partners in Helsinki to finalize the project together. They will together edit a volume feminist research in everyday academia and plan a new funding proposals with international funding.


    Dr Clementine Nishimwe (South Africa) together with Professor Auli Vähäkangas (August -November 2023)

    This project seeks to study and compare how the Christian communities that welcome African migrants embody the principles of egalitarianism and how selected African migrants who live in South Africa and Finland understand and experience the embodied principles of egalitarianism by the communities that welcome them. We consider that if it is well embodied, egalitarianism could curb global inequality that is often a product of migration, racism and xenophobia. The data collection will involve engaging in conversations with both leaders and members of local and African migrant faith communities that welcome African migrants in Finland and South Africa.


    Funded applications from the Viikki campus:

    Dr. Christianah Dare (Nigeria), together with Professor Adrian Goldman (Octobe 2022-May 2023)

    The academic goal of Dr Christianah Dare’s visit is both to examine the effects of sugar apple (Annona squamosa) seed extracts on the malaria parasite to search for potential drugs, and to learn some of the advanced techniques available in Professor Adrian Goldman’s lab and those of his collaborators. The first phase of the work is to discover components of the sugar apple seeds that have antimalarial activities and can then be further processed into drugs for public use.  As a result, the work will lead to joint grant applications not only from the Africa-EU partnership but also from the major Finnish foundations, the Gates foundation and the EU. In the longer run, they expect development of the hit/leads into potential drugs.

    Dr. Adebola A. Lateef (Nigeria) together with Professor Fred Asiegbu (November 2022-May 2023)

    Dr Adebola Lateef’s mission is to unravel the gut microbiota of a destructive insect pest (Tuta absoluta) of tomatoes which is rapidly expanding its geographic range into Africa. This insect pest has a highly damaging effect on tomatoes and has the potential of threatening food production and consequently on sustainable agriculture in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. The outcome of this research will contribute to the understanding of the microbial environment of this pest and how it can be influenced in a bid to develop a sustainable and natural control method. During the visit, Dr Lateef will work with Professor Fred Asiegbu.


    Funded application from the Kumpula campus:

    Dr. Awol Assefa (Ethiopia), together with Professor Petri Pellikka (February-July 2023)

    The spatial coverage of Eucalyptus plantation is expanding rapidly in different parts of Ethiopia. The tree has become a concern due to the dilemma related to environmental issues and economic benefits. However, there is inadequate scientific evidence and understanding on the long-term effects of the tree.  The main purpose of Dr. Awol Assefa’s visit is to understand the long-term impact of eucalyptus on water bodies, soil and biodiversity. During his visit, Dr Assefa will work with Prof. Petri Pellikka.

    During the second round of the programme, we host eight excellent researchers: :

    From the City Centre campus:

    • Dr Samuel Olarinan (University of Johannesburg, South Africa) with University researcher Matti Pohjonen (8 months)

    From Kumpula campus:

    • Dr Linus Bashie Ajikah (University of Witwatersrand, South Africa) with Professor Katrianne Lehtipalo (8 months)

    From Viikki and Meilahti campuses:

    • Dr Sara Ahmed Eltigani Ebrahim (Ahfad University for Women, Sudan) with Associate Professor Ndegwa Maina (6 months)
    • Dr Chukwuebuka Eze (Federal University Oye-Ekiti, Nigeria) with Professor Raimo Pohjanvirta (7 months)
    • Dr Onesmus Musembi Kitonyo (University of Nairobi, Kenya) with Professor Pirjo Mäkelä (9 months)
    • Dr Neema Penance Kumburu (Moshi Cooperative University, Tanzania) with Professor John Sumelius (6 months)
    • Dr Moses Masika (University of Nairobi, Kenya) with Professor Olli Vapalahti (6 months)
    • Dr Bridgit Muasa (University of Nairobi, Kenya) with Associate Professor Annamari Heikinheimo (9 months)