From research to market: Universities have a key role to play in the transformation of societies

Universities provide the rich scientific knowledge base, which is the foundation for innovation and economic development. The African Institute of Science and Technology (AUST) in Nigeria is one of the six African universities that have received financial and technical support from the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) to create an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship in the university. With initial funding support from the African Development Bank and in collaboration with innovation hubs in the region, the university inaugurated an institutional based technology business incubator called AUSTInspire, to bridge the gap in innovation and research commercialization especially in healthcare, energy, shelter, water, oil and gas sectors in the region. RSIF financial support has picked up to further help the hub implement several activities as well as attract additional funding for its operationalization

RSIF financial and technical support has enabled AUST through its Pan African Materials Institute, African Centre of Excellence in Materials, to strengthen and expand the capacity of AUSTinspire and support and promote a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation among its faculty and students.

Through this support, a strategic policy document on innovation and entrepreneurship including intellectual property (IP) and commercialization of research outcome was developed with support from the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Nigeria.  Further a capacity building workshop on innovation and entrepreneurship was facilitated to 105 students and 65 faculty in collaboration with various industry and government trainers.  A follow-on ten-day innovation and entrepreneurship bootcamp was organized which attracted participation of 150 students and 25 faculty. The bootcamp was culminated by a pitching competition where 13 groups presented their ideas to a panel of judges from the business innovation space. Five start up projects with support from RSIF grants were selected to receive business incubation support from the AUSTInspire.

As an offshoot of bootcamp, which was partly sponsored with matching funds provided by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the university received additional support from the AfDB to operationalize the AUSTInspire hub. Part of the AfDB funding was used to carry out a feasibility study of some innovation and incubation hubs in the country to draw lessons and best practices for the operationalization of the AUSTInspire hub.

AUST Centre for Lifelong Learning (AC4LL) was launched as an off shoot of the RSIF support. the funding is what supported the establishment of the Centre for life long learnning and rolll out of the courses. The centre offers opportunities for many working-class persons to engage in various continuing professional education programs especially in entrepreneurship, project management and other relevant subjects. Four short courses have already been launched under this program, one on Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation, one in Advanced Project Management and two on Monitoring and Evaluation. A total of 55 persons have successfully completed these certificate courses in AC4LL.

AUSTInspire has enabled the university community to engage and collaborate more with innovation hubs within Abuja thus improving our ability to solve real life problems through innovation. Prof. A. P. Onwualu, Ag Vice Chancellor, AUST

The university also organized an industry open day that attracted 28 industries from various sectors of the Nigerian economy to exhibit their products and services and interact with the students and faculty. It was also an opportunity for the university researchers to showcase their research outputs from different departments for possible collaboration with industry partners.

To foster University-Industry collaboration, the AUST Industry Advisory Board (AIAB) was launched in April 2022, with a membership of 11 industrial partners, the board will work closely with the university to strengthen its linkage with relevant industries to enhance it capacity in innovation development.

Higher education institutions are gradually embracing the importance of innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurship, and creating value for their communities. African governments together with their development partners have committed to support the strengthening of research and innovation capacity of African universities through the RSIF program of the Partnership for Skills in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (PASET). Read here for more information on RSIF funded projects.

RSIF Alumnus Dr. Noel Gahamanyi shares his experiences from the RSIF-UM6P Hybrid Pan-African Conference

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), in its capacity as the Regional Coordination Unit of the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), the flagship program from the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), held a Pan-African Hybrid RSIF-UM6P conference that saw several experts, ministers, and scholars, researchers, policy-makers and the media gather for two days in Ben Guerir’s Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), Morocco from June 28 to 29 to discuss the fund’s role in African development and collaboration. The 2022 conference builds up on the RSIF 2021 virtual Pre-Conference that was held virtually from 15-17 November 2021.  A total of 102 participants attended in person and 1,082 virtually. A summary of the conference outcomes are available in this communique

Guided by the Conference theme “African-led science, technology and innovation for contributing to the SDGs and global development”, the meeting focused on how to actualise the African countries agenda to train doctoral students in high quality PhD programmes in applied sciences, engineering and Technology (ASET) in the key thematic areas of PASET. Watch highlights of the meeting here

RSIF alumnus Dr. Noel Gahamanyi who is currently a Lecturer of Microbiology at University of Rwanda, presented on Zoonoses and antimicrobial resistance (MR) during the conference. He also made a poster presentation alongside other RSIF scholars and alumni during proceedings. Dr Gahamanyi was one of the 15 scholars in the first Cohort that commenced their studies in 2018. In 2021, he obtained his PhD in Molecular Epidemiology of Campylobacter from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania.  He shared with us his thoughts about the conference in this question-and-answer session.

Q: To start with a big-picture overview of the Conference, could you tell us how the overall experience was like, after two days full of presentations on the value of partnerships and the role of scientific research in Africa?

A. The conference was well organized as it was in a hybrid mode. It meant that even those who could not travel to Morocco managed to benefit a lot from the presentations. I was impressed by the dedication of PASET partners in upgrading the PASET program by linking academia and industry to have an impact on the society. I also liked the presentations highlighting the sandwich program model because it empowers scholars with valuable research insights and skills. Lastly, I was touched by the congratulatory messages to icipe management for the achievements in managing the PASET program since 2018.

Q: You attended the conference as an alumnus of PASET-RSIF and made a poster presentation about your research work. Share with us what the presentation focus was, and the highlight of your poster presentation.

A. The title of my poster was: ‘‘Molecular epidemiology and antimicrobial susceptibility profiles of thermophilic Campylobacter species from humans and animal feces in South Korea and Tanzania’’. I highlighted that chicken and cattle are the major reservoirs of Campylobacter strains that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics like ciprofloxacin and tetracycline. These strains can lead to severe infections in humans. I also showed that natural products like essential oils and their pure compounds were effective against even antibiotic-resistant strains. Lastly, I mentioned that molecular techniques are important pillars in diagnosis and surveillance of infectious diseases including campylobacteriosis.

Q: The Minister of Education of the Republic of Rwanda, Dr Uwamariya Valentine, who also serves as the Chair for PASET Governing Board attended the meeting, what is/was your message and request to her about RSIF and scientific research in Africa.

A. I had an opportunity to talk to her during the conference. In short, my message is to seek more funds that can support a large number of young Africans dreaming to pursue Ph.D. studies. I also requested her to advocate for early matching and start of the sandwich program for PASET-RSIF scholars as any delay can affect the completion of the program (four years).

Q: What was your biggest take home from the Pan-African Hybrid RSIF-UM6P Conference?

A: My take home message from the conference is to incorporate digital technologies into our professions towards achieving the sustainable development goals.

RSIF-RCU pays a courtesy call on the Hon. Minister of Higher Education & Scientific Research of the Republic of Benin

RSIF delegation

A delegation from the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) led by the Manager, Dr Moses Osiru, paid a courtesy call on the Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Benin, Her Excellency, Professor Eléonore Yayi Ladekan, at the Ministry Headquarters in Cotonou, Benin on Tuesday, 15th March 2022. This took place on the sidelines of the Kick-off meeting and launch of the third-party projects of the European Union (EU) Funded Project titled, “Accelerating Inclusive Green growth through Agri-based Digital Innovation (AGriDI)”. The delegation updated the Minister on progress made in the implementation of the RSIF program and specifically RSIF activities in Benin and discussed further areas of mutual collaboration.

Among the various items discussed were the 21 PhD scholarship beneficiaries from Benin, eight of whom are female scholars. Dr Moses Osiru delivered remarks on behalf of the RSIF delegation, which included Dr. Julius Ecuru, Dr. Jonas Mugabe and Ms. Sakina Mapenzi. The icipe team was accompanied by Professor Achille Assogbadjo and Dr Jules Degila both from the UAC and actively involved in the implementation of AGriDI.  Dr Osiru informed the Minister that Benin, will start hosting RSIF doctoral students from across Africa at the University of Abomey-Calavi in 2022, following a competitive selection by PASET that was concluded in 2021. He also extended an invitation to the Honourable Minister to attend RSIF continental meetings including the planned RSIF Annual conference to be organised in partnership with Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), in Morocco from 24-26 May 2022 whose focus will be on strengthening doctoral training and resource mobilisation for the program.

Dr Moses Osiru, RSIF-RCU Manager

Dr Jonas Mugabe was introduced to the Minister as the AGriDI Project Manager. Dr. Mugabe provided an overview of the AGriDi project whose project office is based at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Campus in Cotonou. The project office also serves as the icipe focal point in West-Africa. He thanked the Minister for the support and looked forward to working closely with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Benin.

As a member of PASET-RSIF, Dr Osiru noted that, Benin will be able to leverage other funds by jointly working with other African countries to engage partners and donors, including the private sector. In addition, Beninese institutions will benefit from research and innovation grants to support the strengthening of the research environment in Beninese universities and across the country. This support is leveraged from other donors including the EU financed African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Innovation Fund, the Government of South Korea and the World Bank. The Government of Benin is already benefiting from support from the Government of Korea and the EU AGriDI Project to the PASET RSIF initiative.

The Hon Minister on her part, thanked the RSIF delegation for the courtesy call and for the work being done by RSIF. She promised support from the ministry including advocacy for more funding to RSIF.  The Hon Minister conveyed her greetings to the icipe Director General and CEO, Dr. Segenet Kelemu.

Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Benin, Her Excellency, Professor Eléonore Yayi Ladekan

Accompanying the Hon Minister were several senior Beninese officials including, The Director of Cabinet and Director of Planning and Prospective of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Benin and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Université d’Abomey-Calavi and his team including the Directors of the three centres of excellence.

AGriDi Project launches third-party projects to stimulate agri-based digital innovation in West-Africa

The kick-off meeting and capacity building workshop for third-party projects for the Accelerating inclusive green growth through agri-based digital innovation in West Africa (AGriDI) project will be physically held at the Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Cotonou, Benin from 14-18 March 2022. This follows an inception meeting that was held in a hybrid format, at icipe in June 2021.  The main objective of this meeting is to build a shared understanding and vision of the AGriDI project and a community of practice in agri-based digital innovations in West Africa.

Collaboration among various actors, including Governments, in the digital eco-system will remain key for the success of agri-food systems.  In this spirit, existing linkages between research and the technology sectors need to be strengthened further to support innovation, technology development. AGriDI projects will strengthen the livelihoods of smallholder farmers through its stakeholder engagement initiatives in supporting the acceleration of a digital revolution through training and community engagement activities.

The importance of digital innovation in agri-business cannot be emphasised enough, this workshop will therefore serve as the official launch of the third-party projects and set the pace for a successful implementation phase” Dr Jonas Muagbe, AGriDI Project Manager

AGriDI is a 4-year intervention that will be implemented in the ECOWAS states in Western Africa region and is expected to lead to; (i) increased uptake of agri-based digital technologies by farmers and SMEs especially women and youth in the region; (ii) strengthened linkages between research communities, industry and policy actors in digital innovations in the region and (iii) a strengthened policy environment for scaling agri-business digital innovations in the region.

AGriDI is jointly implemented by the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology, icipe as the Lead and its partners, the University of Abomey Calavi in Benin, Agropolis Foundation in France and Gearbox Pan African Network in Kenya and is one of the 8 granted projects financed under the ACP Innovation Fund of the European Union.

At the end of the meeting workshop, third-party projects will not only be officially launched, but  their members  will be expected to have a better understanding of the AGriDI project and other third-party projects.

For more information about the workshop, follow @AgridiAfr on twitter.

Icipe, Agropolis Fondation, GearBox and University of Abomey-Calavi announce 9 third-party proposals selected for funding

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) based in Nairobi, Kenya; Agropolis fondation (AF) based in Montpellier, France; Gearbox Pan African Network (GB), based in Nairobi, Kenya and Université d’Abomey-Calavi (UAC) based in Cotonou, Benin have formed a consortium to implement a project called Accelerating Inclusive Green Growth through Agri-based Digital Innovation in West Africa (AGriDI). The AGriDI project is sponsored by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) of the European Union through the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) under the ACP Innovation Fund, a component of the OACPS Research and Innovation Programme.

The AGriDI project aims at strengthening innovation systems and fostering adoption of Agri-based digital technologies in West Africa (ECOWAS countries). Digital technologies offer potential to make it easier and more efficient for farmers and small business owners, especially women and youth, to produce and market their goods and services, leading to greater profits. AGriDI will increase identification, adaptation, and use of Agri-based digital technologies by farmers and SMEs (especially women and youth). This will in turn enhance agricultural production and marketing through strengthened linkages between research communities, industry, policy actors, and improved policy environment.

The consortium is pleased to announce that nine third-party proposals (see below list) have so far been selected for funding after a thorough technical review and a due diligence check. The third-party projects will start from March 1, 2022, for a duration of two years.

icipe, AF, GB and UAC congratulate and wish the consortia responsible for implementing the selected projects success in delivering the expected outcomes and impact of the AGriDI project and look forward to working with them towards this goal. We also register our strong appreciation to the 122 applicants who responded to the AGriDI project call with proposals. See list of nine projects selected for funding by AGriDI

Download press release in English
For media and interview inquiries contact: E-mail: agridigrants@icipe.org
For more information: visit www.rsif-paset.org | Kindly sign up to our newsletter for RSIF news.

 

Notes for Editors

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (www.icipe.org), headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the only research institution in Africa working primarily on insects and other arthropods. icipe’s mission is to ensure better food security, health and livelihoods in Africa, by producing world-class knowledge and then developing solutions that are environmentally friendly, accessible, affordable and easy-to-use by communities. These objectives are delivered through four thematic areas – human health, animal health, plant health and environmental health, resulting in a unique framework to tackle the interlinked problems of poverty, poor health, low agricultural productivity and environmental degradation in a comprehensive manner.

In July 2018, icipe was competitively selected and appointed by the World Bank and PASET as the Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) of RSIF. Its mandate includes overall coordination, planning, management and monitoring and evaluation of RSIF activities. Specifically, icipe is coordinating capacity strengthening of selected African universities and partnering institutions in PhD training, research, and innovation in PASET priority sectors. In addition, icipe facilitates the creation of partnerships with governments, universities, and national and international research organizations, for example, through sandwich training and collaboration with centres of research excellence. Furthermore, icipe introduces African governments and other potential strategic partners to PASET, with the aim of growing RSIF and ensuring continued continent-wide reach and support.

The Partnership for skills in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (PASET) was launched in 2013 by the governments of Senegal, Ethiopia and Rwanda with facilitation by the World Bank. It aims to address systemic gaps in skills and knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa’s priority ASET fields, and to build the capacity of African education and training institutions to train high-quality technicians, engineers and scientists to meet the demands of the economy. Since 2013, more than 20 African countries, as well as representatives of Brazil, China, India, Singapore and Korea have participated in PASET’s various activities. PASET is currently led by the education and higher education ministries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, Senegal and Tanzania, along with Korea and the World Bank. The PASET governance bodies, comprising the PASET Governing Council (GC) and the PASET Executive Board (EB) provide strategic direction for implementation of the RSIF project by the Regional Coordination Unit (RCU). The GC is responsible for the overall strategic direction and vision of the RSIF, while the EB interacts with the RCU more regularly, monitoring the regular progress of activities and providing overall guidance. The PASET Consultative Advisory Group provides guidance to the GC and EB on regional priorities, goals and technical aspects of the RSIF.

The Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) is the flagship program of PASET, an initiative by African governments to address systemic gaps in skills and knowledge necessary for long-term, sustained economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).  RSIF aims to support PhD training, research and innovation in African universities that are selected as centres of excellence in fields identified by PASET as priority economic sectors for growth and development: ICTs including big data and artificial intelligence; food security and agribusiness; minerals, mining and materials engineering; energy including renewables; and climate change.  A competitive grants scheme, RSIF has two components: (i) the general fund, which supports PhD training, research and innovation projects annually and (ii) the permanent fund, with proceeds going to the general fund. Students from SSA countries, primarily faculty of SSA universities lacking PhD degrees, are eligible for RSIF scholarships.  RSIF builds capacity in the region to sustainably support those PhD scientists beyond their training as they go into academia, industry, or become entrepreneurs. The RSIF operates through three windows: Window 1 offers scholarships for PhD students and capacity building for RSIF African Host universities; Window 2 offers research grants and Window 3 offers innovation grants. RSIF focuses on transformative technologies that have a far-reaching positive impact on society.

(Featured photo from GAEU Consulting)

 

RSIF scholarly publications and publication metrics

RSIF Scholars have made remarkable contribution to the body of knowledge by publishing their research work in high quality peer reviewed journal articles and presenting papers in international conferences. To date, a total of 60 journal articles and conference papers have been published by the scholars in the 5 thematic areas: Climate Change (11); Energy including Renewables (4); Food security and Agribusiness (19); ICTs including Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (9); and Minerals, Mining and Materials Engineering (16).

There has been notable growth in number of publications from 0 in 2018 when the program started, 9 in 2019, 20 in 2020 to 30 in 2021 (October). Cohort 1 have published 37 peer-reviewed and conference papers, while Cohort 2 have published 22 papers. Total publications by Female Scholars are 16 at (27%) and 44 by Male (73%). All publications are available on RSIF digital repository: https://repository.rsif-paset.org

Publications metrics at a glance!

The research output is making impact as depicted by the number of articles downloads, views and citations from around the world.

RSIF Capacity building activities have been instrumental in supporting scholarly authorship. To mention a few, RSIF supports subscription access to 45,136 high quality e-resources (41,926 e-books and 3,210
e-journals) for the African Host Universities (AHUs). Usage of these resources is at over 350,000 hits. In addition, RSIF conducts biannual Information Literacy and Reference Management training workshops designed to help researchers, including PhD students, acquire intellectual, critical and logical skills to determine needed information; access or locate that information fast; evaluate the information and use effectively and efficiently the retrieved information. The workshops include engaging participants in practical activities in developing search strategies, using reference management tools and identifying credible publishing platforms. This has equipped the scholars with skills in conducting research and identifying credible and high impact journals to publish in.

Featured Publications and Scholars

1. Most popular publication

Sodedji Frejus Ariel Kpedetin, a cohort 1 scholar from Benin, is co-author of the article that has the highest number of citations, views and downloads. Sodedji is currently undertaking his PhD in Food security and agribusiness at University Felix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte d’Ivoire. He has written a blog on ‘I am on a mission to improve cowpea breeding in Africa’ published by RSIF.

Ayenan, M. A. T., Danquah, A., Hanson, P., Ampomah-Dwamena, C., Sodedji, F. A. K., Asante, I. K., & Danquah, E. Y. (2019). Accelerating Breeding for Heat Tolerance in Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.): An integrated approach. In Agronomy (Vol. 9, Issue 11, p. 720). MDPI AG. https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9110720

                 19                                               2227                                                     4,963

Citations                                Abstract reviews                             Full text downloads

2. Scholar with highest number of publications
The scholar with the highest number of publications that have been published after joining RSIF program is Richard Kipyegon Koech, a cohort 1 scholar from Kenya. Richard is undertaking his PhD in Minerals, Mining and Materials Engineering at African University of Science and Technology (AUST). He has published 7 articles and also written a blog on ‘My dream is to mentor young scientists’ published on RSIF website. We feature 3 of his articles published in 2021.

  • Koech, R. K., Ichwani, R., Martin, J. L., Oyewole, D. O., Oyelade, O. v., Olanrewaju, Y. A., Sanni, D. M., Adeniji, S. A., Grimm, R. L., Bello, A., Oyewole, O. K., Ntsoenzok, E., & Soboyejo, W. O. (2021). A study of the effects of a thermally evaporated nanoscale CsBr layer on the optoelectronic properties and stability of formamidinium-rich perovskite solar cells. AIP Advances, 11(9), 095112. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0064398
  • Oyewole, D. O., Koech, R. K., Ichwani, R., Ahmed, R., Hinostroza Tamayo, J., Adeniji, S. A., Cromwell, J., Colin Ulloa, E., Oyewole, O. K., Agyei-Tuffour, B., Titova, L. v., Burnham, N. A., & Soboyejo, W. O. (2021). Annealing effects on interdiffusion in layered FA-rich perovskite solar cells. AIP Advances, 11(6), 065327. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0046205
  • Adeniji, S. A., Cromwell, J., Oyewole, D. O., Oyelade, O. v., Koech, R. K., Sanni, D. M., Oyewole, O. K., Babatope, B., & Soboyejo, W. O. (2021). Pressure-assisted fabrication of perovskite light emitting devices. AIP Advances, 11(2), 025112. https://doi.org/10.1063/5.0035953

3.Most recent publication

Abdulkadir, M., Kajero, O. T., Olarinoye, F. O., Udebhulu, D. O., Zhao, D., Aliyu, A. M., & Al-Sarkhi, A. (2021). Investigating the Behaviour of Air–Water Upward and Downward Flows: Are You Seeing What I Am Seeing? Energies 2021, Vol. 14, Page 7071, 14(21), 7071. https://doi.org/10.3390/EN14217071

Benefits to RSIF Contributing Governments

RSIF is unique in being an African government-led science fund for Africa. The program, which was initiated in 2015 has supported over 180 PhD students and provided 14 research and innovation grants through African ‘Host’ Universities. As contributors to RSIF, African governments benefit in more ways than through the cost-effective training of its doctoral students.

Countries also benefit from efficient centralized administration of the scholarship and other grants, support for the RSIF scholars to ensure that they complete on time, as well as regular monitoring reports on the progress of their students. The pooling of funds, the highly competitive selection of host universities, international partners and students, and the efficient administration of the fund enhances the value and increases the benefits.

African countries’ participation in RSIF benefits their entire higher education, science and innovation ecosystem. All RSIF scholars will undergo high quality doctoral training in competitively selected SSA universities partnered with international universities, with study abroad for part of the time, at a fraction of the cost of sending students abroad for a full time PhD.  On successful completion of the PhD, the students will be eligible for research and innovation grants.

Highly Skilled Human Capital as a Driver for the African Union Agenda 2063 and National Development Plans

The rationale for RSIF is that Africa requires world class scientists in priority thematic disciplines that are relevant to national economic growth across sub-Saharan Africa. Some of these areas include orphaned research areas such as mining, minerals and materials science, energy and information and communication technology among others. This African led program aims to support the training of African innovators and leaders, with focus on women and faculty, to be able to strengthen the capacity of universities to train at the doctoral level and undertake innovative and impactful research for the future needs of the continent and the participating countries.

Read more in RSIF Country Reports 2021 through the RSIF Repository

RSIF is owned and led by African governments through PASET and icipe is the RSIF Regional Coordination Unit.

RSIF is designed for sustainability and has two components: (i) the General Fund and (ii) the Permanent or Endowment Fund, with proceeds to capitalize the general fund.  Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal have made or are at the final stages of making contributions to PASET RSIF, in addition to the Government of Korea, the ACP Innovation Fund of the European Union and the World Bank, bringing funds to US$ 51.7 million.

Country contributions have been earmarked to doctoral scholarships, and in some cases to support research and innovation projects, aligned with national needs. The potential of African countries’ innovative expansion due to investment in RSIF is multiplied when leveraged by the funds through matching support from various donors, including the Government of Korea, international partner institutions and others.

More importantly, RSIF aims to create a sustainable vehicle for supporting science, technology and innovation capacity building through a permanent fund that is being established by the governments. Many African governments are interested to be part of this.

Find out more

RSIF Cohort lll Orientation week was a good start for my PhD Journey

By Hellen Ngunya Mutua

The eagerly awaited session since the reception of my congratulatory note from Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) was finally at hand. Our orientation as Cohort lll recipients of the RSIF coveted PhD scholarships. My name is Hellen Ngunya Mutua, a Kenyan whose RSIF host University is University of Nairobi, Kenya.

The RSIF Cohort III scholar’s orientation took place from 28th June to 2nd July 2021. I thank God and the RSIF team for granting me an opportunity to be among the 98 scholars who attended the online weeklong orientation program via zoom. Scholars from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Senegal, Cote d’lvore and Ghana Host Universities converged online for the orientation training and different facilitators took up active roles in running their assigned tasks in training the scholars.

It was my pleasure to virtually meet Dr Moses Osiru, the Manager, Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) of the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), who welcomed the scholars and gave information about icipe’s. The background, location, and operations. I discovered the great efforts that RSIF puts in its scholars when Fatoumata Thiam, a Senegalese cohort I beneficiary, narrated her academic journey. Her story encouraged me to always aim high and confirmed to me that everything is possible in academics, if you are determined, humble, work hard, and completely trust in God.

Listening to Ms. Ruth Charo the Education Specialist from the World bank made me realize that a high-quality doctorate degree was expected from me after 4 years of its pursuit. I thought of the numerous challenges affecting the African community that awaited solutions from many scholars, including myself. The orientation session marked the beginning of a marvelous journey towards success, as stated by Prof. Goolam Mohamdbhai and Prof. Aminata Sall Diallo of PASET Executive Board. Their words of encouragement assured me that I would soon achieve a PhD in Physics and inspired me to soon become a professor in Physics.

I also met people that I have always admired like Mr. Boniface Nyagah, who was always time conscious and ensured all activities went on as scheduled. He patiently went through the chats after every presentation while addressing all the issues raised by the scholars. I would like to congratulate Mr. Nyagah for managing the session well, despite scholars asking questions in no particular order. I would also like to thank Ms. Elizabeth Murimi, for being available to address the scholars’ concerns in a timely fashion, as our issues and questions about the scholarship were clarified and answered.

It was eye opening listening to Dr. Rob Skilton, Dr Daisy Salif, Dr. Henri Tonnang and Ms. Mary Ngure, as they all guided us on how to carry out our PhD research work. Because of their thorough presentations, I now have all the dos and don’ts at my fingertips. Some of the issues discussed at length were research integrity and ethics, research methods and statistics, research data management, workflow and information literacy, all key in the success of our research work. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the RSIF team was not only concerned about our academic achievement but also our safety. This was demonstrated by the eye-opening discussion we had with Ms. Pamela Tuiyott on sexual violence and the need to always be safe because everyone is vulnerable.

Listening to different African Host Universities’ (AHU) coordinators gave scholars a good guide on what awaits them in their respective universities. The fear and anxiety we previously had, begun to fade away and was replaced with excitement. The possibility of earning a successful PhD was clearly tabled by Prof. Baldwyn Torto together with Ms. Sylvia Maina and Emmanuel Effah’s shared experiences. I learnt that the journey we were about to begin as scholars would have its ups and downs, and therefore called for perseverance to reach desired destinations. I also learnt the importance of communicating my research findings and how to efficiently execute it through Ms. Maureen Agena and Ms. Sakina Kahindi’s presentations. I appreciate Ms. Safaa El- Kogali for sharing her story on her desire to thrive amidst many challenges as a woman.

With support from different stakeholders sponsoring my PhD program, I have concrete reasons to shine in my academics as I promise to work hard and achieve a high-quality PhD.

 

Hellen Ngunya Mutua, a Kenyan by nationality is one of the 102 recipients of a RSIF PhD scholarship in Cohort lll.  She will study Physics at the University of Nairobi in Kenya.

Email: hellenngunya@gmail.com

 

 

My Communication internship experience with RSIF

 

By Yvonne Ndegwa, Former communications research intern  February-April 2021) at RSIF

“…. This is the defining global health crisis of our time…” Words uttered by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros more than a year ago, but which still ring true today. The pandemic has been a defining moment in the human experience and has drastically changed how we do things. Its fatal effects have been felt the world over and will surely live an indelible mark on our history books. The pandemic also left so many people jobless with the far-reaching economic strain of the pandemic felt by organizations, with their workforce bearing the brunt of it all through job cuts, unpaid leave, and uncertainties of whether the status quo will ever be restored. It also meant that job seekers like me would have to work even harder to secure employment, if any. It was therefore very humbling and almost felt undeserving that in such times, I got to work with the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) as a Communications Research intern for a period of three months. Truly, this is an opportunity that I do not take for granted given the prevailing situation.

My internship has been the most fulfilling and motivational experience because I got to do what I love and offer myself to a project that makes Africa and the African people better-something that is close to my heart. Through the scholarships offered under the fund, researchers can advance their research and solve some of the problems that plague Africa. The fund also enables links with industry leaders and partners who are able to work with African universities that host RSIF students to transform what would have otherwise just been ideas, into innovative projects that offer solutions and opportunities for growth and development of the continent. I am very proud to have been engaged with a project whose heart and soul beats for the African people.

With such empathetic, compassionate, and supportive colleagues, this communication internship has helped me achieve my goal of gaining a world of exposure and experience in how communication can be tailored to drive change. Part of my role as a Communications Research intern was to support in social media engagement between RSIF and its audience- a responsibility that I performed diligently, and which drove our social media platforms spiralling towards the right direction. On Twitter for example, our engagement grew remarkably by almost 30% within 3 months and this is important because in the global village we live in now, almost all your audiences are online and traditional platforms of engagement are not as effective as they used to be. Because of the lessons I learned from the cooperation of my colleagues, I am confident that I will continue to grow and develop professionally and in my personal endeavours.

Within my internship, there were two distinct learning experiences that stand out to me as the most influential aspects of my development: social media is a tool for change and teamwork makes the dream work.

Throughout my internship experience, I was able to develop and foster a truly positive working environment, all through the support, cooperation, and guidance of my colleagues. Through the application of time management, organization, discipline and consistent practice, my presentation skills as well as my interpersonal skills improved remarkably. Additionally, my development both with managing the daily processes within the office and planning and delivering effective content on our social media platforms directly impacted the publicity gains of RSIF.

As I say goodbye, I am pleased by the gains we have made so far and extremely proud of the growth we continue to experience. I am encouraged by the overarching purpose of RSIF for Africa and I believe that through the fund, quality research will translate into transformational change which will tap into the potential of Africa and its people. I have grown remarkably as an individual and as a professional and will use all that I have learnt during my internship to advance and elevate my abilities.

Many thanks to the RSIF team for making my stay a smooth one filled with learning opportunities. To my supervisor, Dr. Moses Osiru, thank you for giving me the freedom to explore my creativity and inspiring growth through your strong leadership abilities. RSIF is indeed headed in the right direction under your leadership. I also wish to thank Kristin Seljeflot, whose dedication and commitment to her work was a great source of inspiration and for offering her guidance and support to ensure I made the absolute best of my time at RSIF. To the rest of the team, I am greatly indebted to the support and cooperation you have accorded me- I wish you all the best as you continue to discharge your duties. RSIF is a fund whose impact will be felt for generations to come and I am happy to have been part of such a programme. I look forward to reading about RSIF in the various news outlets and social media platforms.

I am confident in my own growth and development. I would not have the knowledge or skills I have today if it were not for my internship experience with RSIF, and I look forward to where my career in communication takes me in the future.

This perspective has been shared by Yvonne Ndegwa who was a communications research intern for three months (February-April 2021) with the Regional Coordination Unit of the Regional Scholarship Innovation Fund of PASET at icipe. She is a graduate of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) in Kenya and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Corporate Communication, Media Studies and Management. Before joining icipe, she worked at the Central Bank of Kenya as a Communications Assistant. She also has experience working as a Personal Assistant to the Director in IONEC East Africa and a Corporate Communications Intern at Kenya Pipeline Company Limited.

Thought piece on Decolonising Knowledge in Africa

 

We are pleased to share with you a Thought Leadership column by icipe Director General & CEO, Dr Segenet Kelemu, on the emerging movement around the ideology of Decolonising Knowledge. Published in the latest icipe e-bulletin (Volume 11, Issue No. 1, 2021), the article highlights the impetus for the campaign, primarily ongoing global challenges that have amplified longstanding cracks in the international research and knowledge systems. The Director General states icipe’s stand based on the Centre’s unique practical and epistemic view within the debate. The article also details the urgency, points of contention and six key remedies to achieve the intended goals of the movement. Against this background, RSIF is highlighted as the perfect example of how more homegrown resources may well be the ultimate trump card for Decolonising Knowledge in Africa. The article concludes with a call-to-action to the African intellectual community not to forfeit its right and responsibility to contribute to the theorisation that will influence the outcomes of decolonisation of knowledge.

Please read the piece on the icipe website in Enlish and French