Creation and development

The African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES) was launched by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in conjunction with researchers from various African countries.

The meeting was chiefly organized by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, who recognized that the von Humboldt Foundation had funded 1100 scientists from Africa at that time, many from sub-Saharan countries where the ratio of academic to inhabitants is quite low (1:10 000). Since the 1990s in fact, the number of students at African universities has tripled – making quality of assurance (excellence) in academia increasingly important. Following discussion with Humboldtians at an annual meeting of the “Association of African Universities”, the von Humboldt Foundation realized that one could bring the existing expertise of the sub-Saharan African Humboldtians together in an outwardly visible manner. Thus, the African-German Network of Excellence in Science (AGNES) was founded as a supra-regional contact structure to strengthen academic excellence in sub-Saharan Africa that is able to reach out beyond the Humboldt Network in its narrower sense. This initial three day meeting in Ethiopia consisted of participants from 12 countries: 11 African countries (Ambassador Scientists, Presidents of Humboldt Alumni Associations and Humboldt award winners) and Germany (Feodor Lynen alumni, members of the von Humboldt selection committee and Foundation headquarters, representatives of German Federal Ministries and German Institutes). By the end of the meeting, the objectives of AGNES were clear:

  1. strengthening cooperation and scientific exchange;
  2. recruiting high potential researchers for international scientific cooperation;
  3. providing an expert service engaging in the political discourse on promoting scientific excellence in Africa.

The structure of AGNES was decided by the "Founder Members" – the Humboldtians that were present at the kick-off meeting and it was further decided that governance of AGNES will be by African and German Humboldtians, with the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation involved in an advisory capacity. Furthermore, AGNES would be officially launched at a Humboldt Colloquium planned to take place in Kenya in 2013; until then, an Acting Steering Committee was elected by the Founding Group to lay the groundwork of AGNES. These office bearers were:

Acting Chair
Prof. Ernst-August Uken (South Africa)
Acting Vice-Chair
Prof. Jens Gebauer (Germany)
Acting Secretary
Dr Heather G. Marco (South Africa)


The AGNES Secretariat was officially installed at DAW-Centre during the Workshop that took place from December 3 to 5, 2012 at the University of Yaoundé I.

The current Office Bearers of AGNES:

President / Chair
Dr Heather G. Marco
University of Cape Town in South Africa


Vice-President / Vice-Chair
Prof. Jens Gebauer
Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences in Germany


Prof. Hamadi I. Boga
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya