The Successful Grand Joint Conference and Workshop at Hilton Addis and Jimma

By Mike H Gebreyohanes

15th April 2019 marked the first day of Global Knowledge Exchange Network’s (GKEN) eagerly awaited 9th international conference and workshop, entitled ‘Giving Value to Education and Research’, which was organised in conjunction with Jimma University’s 10th annual research conference.

Fifty GKEN academics, researchers and practitioners from nine different countries – including the UK, the USA, Canada, Nigeria and Swaziland – travelled to Ethiopia to participate in the event.

The grand joint conference began in Addis Ababa at Hilton Hotel and was formally opened by GKEN founder and director Professor Amare Desta and Her Excellency Professor Hirut Woldemariam of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MoSHE) at an event attended by over 400 people, including presidents, vice-presidents and deans of universities from all corners of Ethiopia.

The 50-strong GKEN delegation then travelled to Jimma University, where the ten-day workshop and training event commenced on 16th April. The academics delivered workshops, training and surgery sessions covering a wide range of disciplines, including statistics, medicine and film production. These intensive programmes, which took place at Jimma University and Wolkite University, were attended by over 500 students from more than two dozen universities across the country.

Prof Hirut Woldemariam

The conference at Jimma enabled the identification of potential areas of course expansion at Jimma University, with discussions to launch two new degree programmes, one in Filmmaking (at Master’s level) and the other in Child Development (at undergraduate level).

Prof Dejene Ayele

Moreover, at a welcoming dinner reception for the GKEN delegation – hosted by Wolkite University at Intercontinental Hotel in Addis Abeba on the eve of the conference – the university’spresident, Professor Dejene Ayele, affirmed his university’s commitment to working in partnership with GKEN for the betterment of higher education in Ethiopia.

Overall, the eleven-day-long conference was highly impactful and was hailed as a great success by Professor Hirut Woldemariam, who acknowledged the contribution GKEN, as a leading organisation, has been making towards raising the quality of higher education in Ethiopia by facilitating close collaboration between universities in Ethiopia and those in developed nations, in particular the UK.

Prof Amare Desta


GKEN’s 9th conference and workshop was made possible due to the support of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Jimma University, Wolkite University, Ethiopian Airlines, the Ethiopian Diaspora Agency, Computer Professionals United, Dima Printing and Tibeb Intermedia – UK.

GKEN’s director, Professor Amare Desta, acknowledged not only the role these organisations played in making the event a success, but also highlighted their unwavering commitment to supporting the nation’s universities on their journey towards realising their full potentials.


Amare Desta [PhD, MEd, MSc, LCGI, BSc (Hons)] is a Professor of Information & Knowledge Management. He earned his PhD & MSc in Information Systems from The London School of Economics (LSE) and Master of Education (MEd) degree from the University of Cambridge and BSc (Hons) degree in Computer Science at ARU in Cambridge. Because of his passion for education and learning, he was chosen as one of the Five Most Outstanding Learners and awarded a certificate by the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education and received a Lifetime Achievement Award by Anglia Ruskin University in November 2018.

Prof. Amare is adept in utilising Information Communication Technology (ICT) to identify new opportunities for community outreach efforts AND actively engaged in researching knowledge/information management and Indigenous Knowledge & Communication.


Professor Brian Cox OBE, FRS is Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Manchester and The Royal Society’s Professor for Public Engagement in Science. Widely recognised as one of Britain’s leading scientific presenters, Professor Cox has presented countless critically acclaimed science programmes, which have greatly publicised and boosted the popularity of science.

Professor Cox’s contributions to science have been recognised through a number of awards, including the Institute of Physics’ Kelvin Prize in 2010 and the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Prize in 2012. Professor Cox has co-authored several books – such as Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos (2014) and Why Does E = mc2? (2009) – of which over a million have been sold worldwide.


Professor Fortune CBE, FRCP, FRS is Professor of Medicine at Queen Mary University, London. Her expertise is in curriculum development and quality assurance, both in the UK and abroad. Nationally and internationally, her strategic focus has been on widening access and increasing uptake into higher education and Professor Fortune has played a major role internationally in health and education initiatives, remaining committed to global collaboration to enhance health and education provision.

Professor Fortune’s current focus is on embedding health and education within the context of national and societal cultures and economics.