UQ and sub-Saharan Africa

Global connections for healthy communities

At a time when Australia is developing strong economic partnerships with African states, UQ is working hand-in-hand with the region's leading institutions and organisations to find answers to some of the biggest challenges of our time – such as security, conservation, and developing youth capacity.

Fast facts


sub-Saharan African students enrolled at UQ


UQ co-publications


academic staff born in sub-Saharan Africa


research project collaborations


alumni in sub-Saharan Africa


agreements with 3 official partners

Fast facts show full-year 2018 data.



In the past 5 years, UQ has produced more than 1875 co-publications with researchers in sub-Saharan Africa, largely in the areas of medicine, public health, and infectious diseases. Our top co-publishers were the University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, and the University of Witwatersrand, all in South Africa.

Research collaborations

In the past 5 years, UQ has collaborated with five sub-Saharan African institutions on 6 research projects on topics including health, workplace strategy, climate-smart agriculture and farming systems, and language. Project partners include Jimma University (Ethiopia), Stellenbosch University (South Africa), and the Sokoine University of Agriculture (Tanzania).

Research funding

Sub-Saharan African organisations, including Anglo Operations (South Africa), Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research,  and International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (Nigeria), have contributed A$6.6 million to fund 22 research projects in the past 5 years.

Collaboration in action

Improving profitability for farmers

An AUD 3.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is helping UQ researchers evaluate and improve plant breeding programs in developing countries. UQ was selected to implement the Breeding Program Analysis Tool because of its international reputation for excellence in plant breeding, particularly in tropical crops, and its experience in improving sorghum breeding in Ethiopia. Led by the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, the project is identifying ways to improve breeding programs, leading to greater genetic gains and on-farm profitability in 11 key African and Asian geographic regions, including in Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Maize research has global implications

Food security is a major concern in the east and southern Africa region. Maize is an important dietary protein source, but demand is projected to skyrocket in the next decade. To ensure its production is sustainable – particularly for Africa's rural poor – UQ's Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) is part of an international research alliance funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) – managed by Mexican non-profit, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) – and involving researchers from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. The program offers considerable promise for boosting productivity and helping reverse the decline in soil fertility.

Value chain thinking in Africa

UQ International Development’s Australia Awards-Africa Agribusiness short course is one of their longest-running and most successful courses. The course has contributed to the development of agribusiness in 15 African nations by enhancing people’s working lives through a holistic and highly practical approach to value chain development: ‘value chain approach’. Over 100 mid-to-senior-level professionals employed in policy, practice and research roles for government agencies, civil society organisations and private sector companies have completed the course. (Video: watch Janet Nwaekpe talk about her perspective on Nigeria's ginger production and improving the domestic market.)

Building youth capacities in Burkina Faso

Through its Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CRSM), UQ’s Sustainable Minerals Institute (SMI) is working with the Ministry of Education in Burkina Faso to improve vocational and technical training for youth aged 13 to 18, with a strong emphasis on advancing opportunities for girls. The project is implemented by NGO Plan Burkina Faso, in close collaboration with private sector stakeholders and local communities. The active involvement of Canadian mining IAMGOLD offers a unique opportunity for young people to see where their training could lead; IAMGOLD employees regularly visit the training centres to share their experiences and the company organises week-long observation internships for 90 graduates each year at the mine site.

Measuring the impact of ivory burning

Gathering evidence on the impact of Kenya’s ivory burn on elephant conservations is being pushed as an urgent priority by four Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) scientists. Ivory burns and stockpile destruction has increased by more than 600 per cent since 2011, negating international efforts to discourage elephant poaching and, in some cases, boosting the trade value of blackmarket ivory. The research, published in Nature, urged action to track the effects of Kenya’s largest ever ivory burn in 2016 with data on ivory price and demand. Each year more than 30,000 elephants are killed for their ivory by poachers in Africa to satisfy demand in Asia.

Emerging agriculture leaders visit Southern Queensland

World-leading irrigation practices in the Darling Downs and Lockyer Valley were showcased to 31 emerging leaders in agriculture from across Africa in August 2018. The group, studying at UQ, visited the region to learn about processes and techniques that could support African agricultural production and assist with sustainable development. The Australia Awards short course on Irrigation and Water Resources Management for Agriculture is delivered by UQ International Development.

Sub-Saharan African students at UQ

In the past 5 years, 574 students from sub-Saharan Africa have been enrolled in UQ degrees. PhD studies, the Master of Environmental Management, Master of Public Health, and Master of Agribusiness are popular program choices.

Student societies at UQ provide great opportunities to share interests and build community; they include the African Students Association, wildlife protection group UQ for Africa, and a wide range of faith groups

Video: Bakani Butale, from Botswana, is a recent Bachelor of Science graduate (2017). He was chosen as a Brisbane International Student Ambassador in 2015 and was also a recipient of the UQ Science International Scholarship.

Celebrating African cultures


Nkosana Mafico, a UQ Bachelor of Business Management honours graduate, PhD student and entrepreneur originally from Zimbabwe, is passionate about changing perceptions of Africa and equipping young people with the knowledge, skills, network, and resources to create change. He founded the Council for Young Africans Living Abroad, which aims to develop young Africans into borderless thinkers and future leaders, and ultimately drive social and economic change across the continent.

At UQ, you can study some of the major languages spoken in sub-Saharan Africa without enrolling in a degree – including Swahili, Portuguese, and French – through the Institute of Modern Languages (IML).

Video: Nkosana Mafico talks about his entrepreneurial journey, from taking part in the Incubate program at UQ's ilab to starting a mission-based organisation.

Student mobility

Australia Awards (Africa) scholarships

Australia Awards (Africa) scholarship recipients from Mozambique recently graduated from UQ with masters degrees after learning English through an Institute of Continuing & TESOL Education (ICTE-UQ) English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course in Pretoria, South Africa. The course was run in conjunction with ICTE-UQ's International Development team, which has an ongoing relationship with the University of Pretoria to deliver a number of training programs, including components of the International Diplomacy, Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), and Organisational and Employee Short Course Programs.

South African study

The School of Agriculture and Food Sciences offers international study tours to undergraduates so they can understand and analyse key issues relating to the management of animals and natural resources overseas. The 3-week tour has previously taken Applied Science, Sustainable Agriculture, and Wildlife Science students to South Africa, where they collaborate with rural communities, and national and international institutions, such as the Southern African Wildlife College and the World Wildlife Fund.

UQ students can also study part of their degree at the University of Cape Town.


More than 750 alumni live in sub-Saharan Africa. Alumni from or living in the region include:


Provincial Coordinator of the Ariel Foundation; Alumni Ambassador for the Australia Awards program; UQ International Alumnus of the Year 2013 (Master of Public Health 2005)

Researcher and poet; 2016 Lynsey Welsh Award winner for innovation in near infrared science (Doctor of Philosophy 2017)