Omotade Aina, Sociologist And Africanist, To Lead Carnegie Corporation’s Africa Grantmaking Programs

Omotade “Tade” Akin Aina, a sociologist whose well-known work has highlighted the challenges in Africa of urban poverty, governance and development, will join Carnegie Corporation of New York as Program Director, Higher Education in Africa, it was announced today by Vartan Gregorian, president of the foundation. Tade is an experienced foundation executive, whose decade-long tenure in the Ford Foundation’s Nairobi office, has been marked by innovation and visionary leadership.

Aina, a Nigerian national, will refine and implement the Corporation’s strategy to accelerate economic and social development in Africa by strengthening teaching, research, scholarship and leadership. Working in South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana and Nigeria, Carnegie Corporation is investing in initiatives including regional networks of scholars, to cultivate and harness individual skills in the sciences and humanities while building on its decade-long institutional support for universities and libraries.

“Tade’s grasp of Africa’s complex development needs, the difficult questions he asks and the truths he seeks will help the Corporation better understand the challenges in building human capacity,” said Gregorian. “Throughout his career as a scholar and administrator, he has worked with determination to develop routes toward deepening democratization, reforming public policy and building civil society. We are anxious to tap into his experience and expertise as we work in collaboration with African partners to contribute to the continent’s capacity to build a prosperous future.”

Gregorian added that Aina was selected after an extensive international search for a leader who understands the imperative for human resource development on the continent, and champions the role of universities as providers of this essential good.

“Africa’s vibrant universities are helping to prepare a new generation of leaders in civil society, industry and government who can meet the continent’s many needs,” said Tade Aina. “We must continue to find innovative approaches to strengthening these institutions while pioneering new ways of linking them to offer the highest quality instruction to scholars, scientists and humanists.” Aina, who embraces higher education’s role as a catalyst of economic and social development, has spoken widely about Africa’s universities, and in his monograph Quality and Relevance: African Universities in the 21st Century, critically assesses the sector’s history.

Tade Aina is currently Ford Foundation’s Regional Representative for East Africa based in Nairobi, Kenya. He will join Carnegie Corporation in September. He studied sociology at the University of Lagos and the London School of Economics and obtained his doctorate from the University of Sussex. Aina was a professor at the University of Lagos, lecturing on urban poverty, governance and development. At Lagos, where he combined research with activism, Tade was one of the founders of the Nigerian Environmental Study Team and the Lagos Group for the Study of Human Settlements, publishing widely on these and related issues. Tade joined Ford Foundation in 1998, coming from the Dakar-based Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), where he was the Deputy Executive Secretary. In Ford’s Nairobi office, Tade developed a portfolio in Governance and Civil Society that has focused on the strengthening of the values and institutions of participatory democratic governance.

Carnegie Corporation is a founding member of the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa, a consortium of seven foundations who have committed to invest $300 million over ten years (2000-2010) in African higher education. The initiative supports efforts by leaders of African universities and academic associations to expand and improve the education of the next generation of African leaders in fields necessary for continued development of the region. To date, the most significant focus has been on the development of universities' infrastructure and human and organizational capacity. Information technologies and connectivity to the Internet have been at the core of these efforts, including the establishment of the first regional satellite bandwidth consortium in sub-Saharan Africa.


Africa has been an important focus of Carnegie Corporation since the foundation initiated work on the continent in the 1920s. Working with local organizations in former Commonwealth countries, the Corporation established and has adhered to a strategy of harnessing local scholarship and innovation—or building those skills where they were scarce—to address the challenges of economic and social development. These fundamental principles remain central to Carnegie Corporation’s Africa grantmaking.

The Corporation’s first Africa grant was made in Kenya in 1925 to set up a school to train rural educators. The school was among the first in Africa to be established primarily for the training of teachers in rural areas. Other early grants provided support for scientific research, public and academic library development, encouragement of adult education, opportunities for technical education for students, and financing of visits to and from Africa by leaders in the education field.

In more than 80 years of Africa grantmaking, program themes have changed and geographic focus has shifted in response to regional demands. Yet the Corporation has been stalwart in its commitment to the mission introduced by Andrew Carnegie: to strengthen access to knowledge and the application of that knowledge by building self-reliant individuals and institutions able to fully participate in the development of their country and their region.


Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." For more than 95 years the Corporation has carried out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy by building on his two major concerns: international peace and advancing education and knowledge. As a private grantmaking foundation, the Corporation will invest more than $100 million this year in nonprofits to fulfill Mr. Carnegie's mission, "to do real and permanent good in this world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $3 billion on September 30, 2007.