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Mirjam van Reisen raises € 2 million for research into Digital Education for Resilience in Africa

Published: 15th June 2020 Last updated: 29th June 2020

Mirjam van Reisen, professor of International Relations, Innovation and Care, recently obtained three grants for her research, totalling € 2 million. The programmes focus on strengthening digital opportunities in Africa through capacity building and education.

Mirjam van Reisen states: “Africa is the continent where 10 million youth enter the labour market each year. Digital education will be increasingly important in Africa. Unfortunately, in Africa the COVID-19 crisis has hit hard. As a consequence, the use of digital solutions has increased. We can build on this. We are grateful to the NUFFIC Orange Knowledge Platform. All boys and girls have dreams, and young men and women want to contribute to society.”

Digital innovation

The programmes aim to build resilience through education in Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Tunisia and Niger. The corner-stone is digital innovation.

  • The first programme is focused on strengthening youth participation in work. In this programme new curricula are developed so that the position of youth in the job market is improved.
  • The second programme facilitates e-learning and safe data sharing in the Horn of Africa. Both programmes aim to improve labour market access through innovative new e-learning trainings, particularly for youth, women and refugees.
  • A third research project was approved by The Dutch Research Organisation, NWO (ZonMw) on the tracing of the incidence and movement of COVID-19 among migrants in the Central Mediterranean region.

African Universities

The projects are co-led by African Universities, in particular Mekelle University in Ethiopia, Kampala International University in Uganda and Université de Sousse in Tunisia. Other African NGOs and research organisations are included in the implementation.

Mirjam van Reisen: “All programmes promote digital data management and ownership in Africa, while preparing data for safe interoperability. We are using the protocol developed in The Netherlands in which data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR), but entirely managed by the data producer. This creates greater trust in data. We will strengthen capacities to manage trusted open real-time data including on (suspected) incidence of COVID-19 infections, which is critical for researchers and policy-makers.”


Two of the programmes were approved under the Orange Knowledge Programme of Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organization. The Orange Knowledge Programme is a € 220 million Dutch global development programme, available in 54 developing countries and managed by Nuffic, a Dutch non-profit organisation for internationalisation in education. Launched mid-2017, it aims to have provided tens of thousands with the possibility to change their future through education and training by mid-2022. The programme is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ZonMw promotes quality and innovation of health research through various subsidy programmes, promoting and funding development and practical application in the area of prevention improvement, care and health.

Mirjam van Reisen is one of the authors of the advise to the Dutch government on the Global Dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis and currently chairs a committee looking at Digitalisation and Youth Employment in Africa. She is the editor of the books Roaming Africa and Mobile Africa (2019), which investigate the digital developments in Africa. For more information, please contact her: