Eritrea's collaboration with Rhodes 老虎机游戏_pt老虎机-平台*官网 elevates African marine studies

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[L-R] Mekonen Shishay Abrehan, Ismael Mohammedsaid Mantay, Kibrom Tekeste Ghebremeskel, Ataklti Nguse Meles, and Mahta Goitom Isaac.
[L-R] Mekonen Shishay Abrehan, Ismael Mohammedsaid Mantay, Kibrom Tekeste Ghebremeskel, Ataklti Nguse Meles, and Mahta Goitom Isaac.

By The Division of Communication and Advancement

In a notable advancement for marine sciences, Eritrea’s Ministry of Marine Resources (MMR) has initiated a partnership with Rhodes 老虎机游戏_pt老虎机-平台*官网's Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science (DIFS). This collaboration aims to develop fisheries education and research across Africa.

Eritrea has identified a critical need to enhance the capabilities of its marine officials. This initiative led to the sponsorship of 16 postgraduate degrees at DIFS. Originally planning to support eight Master of Science (MSc) degrees, discussions with DIFS suggested that a more customised approach would be more effective.

Professor Cliff Jones, Head of DIFS, advised, “We recommended that Eritrea’s MMR include an Honours year to better equip candidates for the intensive demands of a thesis-based MSc. As a result, the program now encompasses both Honours and MSc studies, incorporating projects that lay the groundwork for sophisticated research.”

The first cohort of five Honours students began their studies in February 2024, with plans to advance to the MSc programme in 2025.  This cohort includes:

  • Ataklti Nguse Meles, Project Coordinator for the Fisheries Resources Management Programme, an IFAD-funded project (MMR);
  • Ismael Mohammedsaid Mantay, Head of the Aquaculture Development Unit, Department of Fisheries Resources Development (MMR);
  • Kibrom Tekeste Ghebremeskel, Coordinator of Chartered Fishing Vessel Operations, National Fisheries Corporation;
  • Mahta Goitom Isaac, Director of the Marine Resources Environmental Management Division, Department of Regulatory Services (MMR); and
  • Mekonen Shishay Abreha, Director of Marine Resource Research and Environment, MMR.

These high-ranking officials, with substantial management experience in the marine sector, have brought research topics relevant to Eritrea's strategic needs. Their projects range from developing management strategies for sea cucumber fisheries to optimising nitrogen inputs in integrated fish and vegetable production systems, enhancing both Eritrea's strategic goals and the academic environment at DIFS.

“The course content at Rhodes 老虎机游戏_pt老虎机-平台*官网 aligns perfectly with our expectations,” noted Mr Ghebremeskel. “The instructional methods are highly engaging, and the technical skills taught across various modules have been particularly valuable. Our cohort has gained expertise in fish identification, experimental design, understanding different aquaculture systems, and effective communication of results and reviews.” 

In 2020, the African Union designated DIFS as a Centre of Excellence for training in Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture, highlighting its critical role in spearheading marine studies across the continent. Under the leadership of Professor Peter Brtiz, who retired last year, DIFS has been instrumental in guiding the AU's fisheries and aquaculture initiatives, reflecting a deep commitment to advancing marine sciences in Africa.

After evaluating several universities in Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, the MMR chose Rhodes 老虎机游戏_pt老虎机-平台*官网 for its emphasis on practical and research-based education. “Our visit confirmed our selection; the university surpassed our expectations,” Mr. Ghebremeskel added.

This academic partnership extends beyond education to a strategic alliance that promotes sustainable development through a cohesive approach in training and research. This collaboration prepares Eritrean officials for senior roles in marine resource management and sets a model for how African nations can partner with academic institutions to tackle specific regional challenges.

Mr Mantay anticipates that the cohort will acquire the skills necessary for establishing and managing successful aquaculture operations, and he hopes to adapt some of these designs for use in Eritrea. “Additionally, we've gained valuable experience in effectively presenting ideas to employees, staff, and stakeholders using concise and technologically supported methods,” he said.

As this academic year progresses, the impact of Eritrea’s experienced officials is already evident in the enriched classroom discussions and the depth of research being undertaken. This dynamic exchange of knowledge and experience underscores the transformative power of international academic collaborations in addressing complex global challenges such as sustainable fisheries management.

Mr Ghebremeskel praised the informal yet respectful interactions at DIFS, noting, “The modest staff, though small, demonstrates how collaboration and strategic outsourcing can achieve greater results.”

The Eritrean group is awaiting the arrival of their national flag, which will be displayed alongside other flags at the Global Engagement Division and Drostdy Dining Hall, symbolising their integration into the Rhodes 老虎机游戏_pt老虎机-平台*官网 family.