The federal government and leading college groups on Wednesday unveiled the next major step  in their expanding effort to strengthen American higher education's role in helping African universities build their continent.
The U.S. Agency for International Development and the nonprofit group Higher Education for Development announced the awarding of grants of as much as $1.1 million to 11 pairs of American and African universities, each of which will team up to focus on environmental, education, energy or other issues in Africa.
The successful recipients were among more than 30 pairs of institutions that were awarded $50,000 planning grants  in 2009. The 11 grantees were chosen based on five-year strategic plans that lay out 10-year visions in which each American institution will provide technical and other support to help its partner African university develop its own expertise to attack a problem that it has identified, said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities. APLU is one of several higher education groups that sponsor the Africa-U.S. Higher Education Initiative, which spawned the partnerships and announced the awarding of the grants.
McPherson, who headed the Agency for International Development during the Reagan administration, noted that the new initiative in Africa represents a return to the agency's funding of significant numbers of projects on that continent during the 1980s, but with a few twists.
This time, he said, the projects are focused less on importing American technical expertise and more on "African universities figuring out what they want to get done through U.S. partnerships, and the American universities trying to build capacity so that the [African] universities can help their countries solve their own problems."
"Compared to a generation ago, this is more African-centric," McPherson said.
The university pairs, and their projects, follow:
- The International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering in Burkina Faso and Tuskegee University, water and environmental science and technology
- Addis Ababa University and University of Connecticut, Sustainable Water Resources Development and Management, 
- University of Ghana's College of Health Sciences and Brown University, Higher Education Initiative for HIV/AIDS, 
- Kenya's Kenyatta University and Syracuse University, Building Capacity through Quality Teacher Preparation. 
- The University of Nairobi, in Kenya, and Colorado State University, Sustainability of Drylands.
- The University of Liberia and Indiana University at Bloomington, Life Sciences Planning Initiative. 
- The University of Malawi’s Bunda College of Agriculture, Michigan State University’s Chancellor College, and Lincoln University: Ecosystems Services: Linking Science to Action in Malawi and the Region, 
- Université Gaston-Berger and The Ohio State University, Development of a West African e-Education Agro-ecology Program for Sustainable Food Production. 
- University of Cape Town, in South Africa, and University of Cincinnati, Solar Energy Devices for Africa. 
- Catholic University of Sudan and Virginia Tech, Rebuilding Higher Education in Agriculture to Support Food Security, Economic Growth, and Peace Efforts in Post-Conflict Southern Sudan .
- Makerere University, in Uganda, and North Dakota State University, Capacity Building in Integrated Management of Zoonoses and Vector-borne Diseases in Eastern and Central Africa.