The African Higher Education Community Mourns the Passing of Prof. Tolly Mbwette, Former AAU Governing Board Member

COVID-19 Pandemic exposes default instructional leadership in African universities
June 28, 2020
July 10, 2020

The Association of African Universities (AAU) and the entire African higher education community are deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Prof. Tolly Salvatory Augustin Mbwette.  Prof. Mbwette was a celebrated Professor of Engineering, and the former Vice Chancellor of the Open University of Tanzania.

Due to his strong track record as an achiever and a leader, Prof. Mbwette was elected as a governing board member of the AAU and served the association from year 2013 to 2017 as the representative of the East African Region. He worked tirelessly with his team members to improve African Higher Education and to promote it to the rest of the world.

He also served the AAU in various capacities, including chairing of sessions at the AAU’s statutory conferences,  representing the AAU and advocating for its interests at international meetings, being part of the panel for the recruitment of the AAU Secretary General,  as well as contributing to the implementation of projects such as the World Bank funded Africa Centres of Excellence (ACE) Projects.  He served as an evaluator in the selection of some Centres of Excellence in both the ACE I and ACE Impact Projects.  He also played active roles in the AAU African Quality Assurance Network (AAU/AfriQAN) activities.

On behalf of the Governing Board of the AAU, the 400-member universities of the Association, Staff of the AAU Secretariat and all stakeholders of the African Higher Education community, the Association extends its heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family, and commiserates with the Tanzanian Ministry of Education as well as the entire citizenry of Tanzania, and Africa on this sad event.

We fondly remember him for his immense contribution to academic scholarship in Africa. Indeed, Africa has lost a great scholar and leader.

May His Dear Soul Rest in Perfect Peace!



 (Source – Open University of Tanzania) 

Prof. Mbwette held various positions in higher learning institutions. Between January 2004 and April,2005, he was the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic) at the Open University of Tanzania. He also served as the Vice Chancellor, Open University of Tanzania following his re-appointment for a further five-year period, starting 3rd April 2010. He was the Chairman of the IUCEA Governing Board for two years (2007-2009) and the Foundational Chairman of TERNET Council between April 2007 and April 2010.  Between December 2006 and December 2009, Prof. Mbwette was the Chairman of the Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU).  He was also the Vice Chairperson of the Executive Board of the African Council on Distance Education (ACDE) between July 2008 and July 2011 as well as one of the two Vice Chairpersons of the IUCEA Governing Board from July 2008 to June 2010.  From September 2009, Prof. Mbwette was an Honorary Advisor to the Commonwealth of Learning (COL).  In July 2011, Prof. Mbwette was duly elected as the President of ACDE for a period of three (3) years. Prof. Mbwette was the team leader of various multi-disciplinary research teams responsible for treatment of both drinking and wastewater treatment systems that rely on bio-systems. He had a broad experience in management of higher education institutions initially through being an Associate Dean responsible for Research, Publications and Postgraduate Studies for three years in the former Faculty of Engineering at the University of Dar es Salaam after which he assisted the UDSM Vice Chancellor in Coordinating the much acclaimed University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Transformation Programme for eight years, between July 1994 and April, 2002. Prof. Mbwette was also involved in co-ordination of a number of co-operation programmes between Europe and America and Universities in Africa ranging from East, Central and Southern Africa.

Academic Qualifications

Institution: University of Dar es salaam, Tanzania
Dates: 1977 – 1981
Qualifications: B.Sc. Engineering (Hons) [First Class]
Content: Civil Engineering

Institution: International Institute for Hydr. & Env. Eng., The Netherlands
Dates: 1981 – 1982
Qualifications: Dip. S.E. (Delft), [Distinction], M.Sc. equivalent
Content: International Course for San. Engineering

Institution: University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dates: 1982 – 1984
Qualifications: M.Sc. Engineering [Unclassified]
Content: Civil/Environmental Engineering

Institution: University of London, Imperial College of Science & Technology
Dates: 1985 – 1989
Qualifications: P.h.D (London), DIC
Content: Public Health/Environmental Engineering