There are two DAAD offices in the African continent located in Egypt and Kenya, separated by the traditional classification of “North Africa” and “Sub-Saharan Africa”, but connected by Africa’s most famous river; the Nile, and common challenges faced by the countries along the river Nile. The directors of the two DAAD offices, Dr. Roman Luckscheiter and Dr. Helmut Blumbach, seized this opportunity to initiate the “Cairobi Talks” and invite the DAAD Alumni from the Nile Basin Countries to this conference.

From the 10th to the 12th of November, researchers and scientists from ten different countries met in Cairo to discuss their current projects on “Resource Management” as well as their local experiences and regional perspectives: Egypt, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Sudan and South Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Congo and Uganda were united in the shadow of the pyramids for two days regardless of any political tensions.

The spectrum of topics at this multidisciplinary conference was expectably large but of equally high quality. Whether the research was about water treatment, fighting illiteracy, environment protection or use of open educational resources – the similarities of the challenges in the different countries and also the potential of regional cooperation along the Nile were evident. The conscience for cultural embedding of all research is an important factor in this context. A linguist impressively demonstrated this: Specific transnational initiatives were presented as well as ideas for future projects.

Therefore, the “Cairobi Talks” will go into a second round and invite the DAAD Alumni from the Nile Basin Countries to Nairobi next year. This comes at a suitable time: Egypt is opening towards Africa and is pursuing a new strategy to perform a more active role within the African Union. As the DAAD Egyptian Alumnus Prof. Dr. Abdel Meguid Kassem – who as a doctor cooperates actively with African partners – illustrated in his keynote speech: The continent’s most important resources are its people. It is necessary to convert the sometimes disastrous weaknesses of its countries to opportunities for innovations which benefit those people.