Rex Uzonna Ukaejiofo, Degree of Doctor, Nigeria, graduated in 2014
After completing my master’s program in Europe I sought PhD programs in development and found the Chinese Council Scholarships. I wanted a strong program in international development and found that the China Agricultural University offered a more specialised program tailored to African Development, with an agricultural focus, which catered to my primary interests. Considering all the factors, I promptly decided to apply for the PhD in Development Studies.A better understanding of China’s rural development practices, particularly the nature of its development success in lifting millions out of poverty in 3 decades, a feat more industrialised nations couldn’t achieve in such a time.
Before studying at the China Agricultural University, I was involved in not-for-profit research in an institute within the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system as a Research Assistant. Now armed with a PhD in Development Studies, I have an array of subject areas that I became competent in as a result of the various specialised courses from Nongda. Since graduation, I have consulted for the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington DC and the Economist Intelligence Unit as a Research contributor in its 2015 Global Microscope Study. I also worked as a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Chinese Studies at the Stellenbosch University, South Africa, where I conducted research on China’s investments in African agriculture. I presently work at the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies (a regional centre under the U.S. Department of Defense) as a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist in its Washington D.C., office.
Throughout my various positions, I have: (i)Advocated for the advancement of research into agriculture and rural development, resulting in the inclusion of A&RD research at the Centre for Chinese studies; (ii) Initiated discussions between the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program office of the African Union (AU), China-Africa Development Forum, and the commercial section of the Chinese Embassy in South Africa to ascertain China’s impact on rural livelihoods through agricultural investments; (iii) Coordinated with like-minded regional and international institutions to develop state-of-the-art strategies and programs to further improvements in rural development; (iv) Promoted innovative ways to measure the impact of scattered Chinese investment in agriculture in Africa, leading to pioneering approaches to assess the impact of decentralized and non-coordinated investments from both the public and private sectors; and (v) Disseminated relevant findings in a recent study on the China’s investment in the Nigerian Manufacturing sector (a study undertaken as a non-resident Research Associate in the SARI-China-Africa Research Initiative of the Johns Hopkins University, Washington D.C, with the guidance of Professor Deborah Brautigam) to key stakeholders through reports and online media to inform policy decision-making.
The China-Africa partnership presents a formidable strategy in developing human resources to steer the affairs of Africa in the coming decade. This partnership is commendable, especially with the rising shortage of human resources in Africa and clamour for rural development across the continent. Although there are many efforts to ensure training is evenly spread across African Member nations, there is a need to incorporate some form of actual work situation experiences in the program. I will suggest that the program begin to look at ways of designing a short industry experience practice in China, in the duration of the program to enable trained human resources an opportunity to demonstrate technical competencies with real life work situations for at least 6 months.