Thursday May 23, 2013, was a special day at the West African Research Center, as it was on Thursday that the formal inauguration ceremony for WARC’s new facility, The DAART Extension, took place.
The acronym DAART stands for Dakar American Applied Research & Training. The DAART project is funded through a generous grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Africa Bureau, and has provided, over the past year, both technical and financial support to eleven young West African leaders whose work is making significant differences in their communities. The DAART Extension was partially financed through the project and provides a well-equipped space for the continuation of this and other initiatives.
The ceremony, held in the new DAART Conference Room, was graced by the presence of his excellency Lewis Lukens, US Ambassador to Senegal and Mr. Ibrahima Gueye, Secretary General of the Senegalese Ministry of Higher Education and Research. In his remarks, Ambassador Lukens underlined the ongoing collaboration with WARC and praised the center for its vitality as a center of academic excellence and now, as a resource for young leaders, noting the importance of making the results and findings of research available to be applied in ways that contribute to the well-being of communities. Secretary General Gueye emphasized the importance of applying research results to contemporary problems facing the region and congratulated WARC and the DAART Fellows on their commitment to these goals.
The ceremony also included remarks by the directors of WARA and WARC; by Professeur Eugenie Aw, Director of DAART training; representatives of the DAART Steering Committee, Stephanie Guirand and Aissatou Padane; and spokespersons for the 11 DAART Fellows. The ceremony culminated in the unveiling of the inaugural plaque.
The DAART extension, designed by architect Annie Jouga, houses a fully equipped conference room, two offices/classrooms, and two restrooms. Seamlessly integrated into the original WARC building, and impressive in both esthetic and practical terms, this extension will significantly increase WARC’s capacity to host conferences, workshops, seminars, and other programs. As WARC’s reputation for excellent program coordination has spread, it receives frequent requests and this new extension will certainly allow WARC to host more events that are of interest to the academic and cultural communities.
On Monday, May 27, the WARA and WARC Directors had the honor of being received by the Senegalese Minister of Higher Education and Research, Professeur Mary Teuw Niane, to discuss ways of furthering our shared missions. We have been pleased to work closely with Professeur Mary Teuw Niane over the years and in particular, while he served as Rector of Universite Gaston Berger in Saint Louis, Senegal. We were pleased also to meet with the Minister of Youth and Civic Engagement, M. Benoit Sambou, to whom we presented the DAART Program. We told him about two short documentaries on urban issues in Dakar—films produced by DAART fellow Albert Sylla and his group, Image et Vie. Minister Sambou introduced the idea of screening the films on national television to promote public dialogue and has already made arrangements with Radio-Television Senegal. It is indeed exciting to see the work of DAART Fellows bearing fruit in such positive ways.