The Women’s Advancement Forum: International Exchanges, Research & Academia (WAFIRA) programme was Co-initiated in 2014, by Dr. Elizabeth Rasekoala (President of African Gong), as a direct response to address the under-representation of African Women in Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), in the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) scholarship and exchange support programmes, with the strategic support of the DAAD leadership. The programme conceptualisation was envisioned to be delivered through an institutionalisation and ‘mainstreaming’ framework that involved high-level partnerships with African Universities and Research Institutions in its planning, delivery and support systems, to further enhance and sustain its outcomes for the programme participants.
The WAFIRA programme was piloted in 2014, at the University of Ibadan, in Ibadan, Nigeria, and following its success and impact, and the huge demand for the programme which was very over-subscribed, the DAAD committed to rolling out the programme across the West African region. The planning for the roll-out was undertaken in 2015 (at a WAFIRA regional planning workshop held in Accra, Ghana), and in 2016, the WAFIRA programme was delivered in Ghana (Accra), Nigeria (Lagos and Otuoke – two programmes due to high numbers of participants), Benin (Cotonou) and Togo (Lome). In 2017, WAFIRA has been delivered in Ghana (Kumasi), Benin (Cotonou) and in Nigeria (Ibadan). In early 2018, as it became self- evident that the DAAD Co-ordination of the WAFIRA programme was becoming transitional, African Gong applied to the DAAD for the formal handover of the legacy of the programme coordination. This was formally granted by the Head of the DAAD, with African Gong thus, securing the sole and exclusive rights to the WAFIRA Name, Logo, and Programmatic framework in this process.
In 2019, African Gong is now working to put in place a strategic Pan-African framework for the sustainability and expansion of the WAFIRA programme across the African continent. A critical aspect of this new era is that the WAFIRA programme will no longer be limited to featuring only the international exchanges and scholarship opportunities of the German Government, but will now be able to showcase and link up with a global plethora of such opportunities, particularly those that have a high demand on the African continent, including the programmes of Countries such as the UK (including the Commonwealth Programmes), the US, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Canada, India, China, the Nordic Countries and Japan.
WAFIRA Inaugural video