Celebrating Women in Science: Inspiring Sustainability and Impact in Africa


By Julius Ecuru

Today, as the world commemorates the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we also celebrate the remarkable achievements of women scientists in our PASET Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif). Of the 282 doctoral scholars in the PASET Rsif initiative, 37% are women from more than 24 countries in Africa. This is a positive development considering that less than 30% of the world’s researchers are women according to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) data (2023). Getting more women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is widely regarded as critical to growth and development of sustainable economies.

Despite the numerous efforts aimed at achieving gender equality in STEM, several studies highlight that women in STEM fields have lower publication rates, unequal compensation, and limited career progression compared to their male counterparts. The challenges leading to this inequality are multifaceted and express differently in different contexts. But the common ones appear to be unequal opportunities for women to get in STEM, and perceptions about gender roles that overwhelm women with domestic responsibilities.

At Rsif, we intentionally work to address the imbalances in the number of women in STEM through outreach, sustained mentorship, and gender responsive programming. We have learnt that deliberate efforts in providing a gender responsive educational and research environment helps women scientists to achieve their full potential.

Recently, two of our distinguished female scholars, Christelle Arielle Mbouteu, a 28-year-old Cameroonian national pursuing a PhD in renewable energy, and Rehema Mrutu, a 33-year-old Tanzanian national pursuing a PhD in Natural Resource Management and Climate Change, were recognized for their ground-breaking research during the COP28 in Dubai.

Rehema’s innovative work focuses on developing a CRISPR engineered strain to reduce methane emissions in cows, thereby enhancing meat and milk production sustainably. Her award-winning research aims to optimize methane production to acetic acid conversion, a by-product beneficial for livestock, in efforts to ensure food security in Africa.

Christelle received acclaim for her outstanding contribution at the 12th Asia-Pacific Forum on Renewable Energy (AFORE) in Jeju, South Korea. Her research delved into the techno-economic analysis of various renewable energy systems, providing valuable insights for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. Explore further details here.

Furthermore, Faith Njeru and Mwende Mbilo, both Kenyan citizens, received recognition at the 14th award ceremony in Kasane, Botswana for the L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Sub Saharan Africa Awards. Faith’s research endeavours to develop an affordable, efficient, and user-friendly paper strip test for plant disease detection utilizing novel molecules extracted from camel serum. Meanwhile, Mwende’s research focuses on enhancing the design of efficient and stable non-fullerene acceptor-based organic solar cells through buffer layer modification. Delve deeper into their remarkable work here.

We maintain that women play a crucial role in advancing science and innovation. It is imperative that we proactively cultivate female talent in STEM fields. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is certainly a moment for us to reflect on our commitment to increase women’s participation in and contribution to STEM for our socioeconomic transformation.

Julius Ecuru is a Principal Scientist and Manager, Research Innovation Coordination Units, icipe.

Rsif PhD scholar explores groundbreaking solution for climate change mitigation.

Rsif PhD student, Mr. Ishaq Kaarim, is exploring a groundbreaking solution that uses agricultural residues to mitigate climate change. In a paper recently published in the Journal of Bioresource Technology of Impact Factor of 11.4, Ishaq describes a method of producing biocrude, an essential feedstock in ethanol production, from orange peels. The paper explores the synergetic effects of sub/supercritical conditions of ethanol and acetone to achieve a higher heating value (HHV) of biocrude efficiently. While previous studies have focused on the temperature and residence time effects, the comprehensive exploration of the organic solvents’ influence on biocrude properties remains a novel endeavor.

Ishaq is pursuing a PhD in Material Science and Engineering at the Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in Arusha, Tanzania. NM-AIST is one of the 15 Rsif African Host Universities.

In Muheza district, Tanga region of Tanzania, orange cultivation stands out as a significant contributor to both household income and revenue for the district. However, processing of oranges into fruit juice generates a substantial byproduct – orange peels. These peels, rich in cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose, emerge as an untapped resource for biofuel production. Beyond the economic value of citrus fruits, the need to convert orange peels into viable products becomes imperative to curb indiscriminate burning of solid waste and presents a new avenue for economic growth, while mitigating climate change. Biocrude production from orange peels promotes sustainable agricultural practices, turning agricultural residues into a source of renewable energy.

Ishaq’s study opens new frontiers and future research on the feasibility of biofuel production from agricultural residues. It widens opportunities for developing alternative sources of energy apart from fossil fuels, which account for large carbon emissions globally. It potentially also provides solutions for reducing environmental pollution from solid waste, which are often damped in landfills.

Ishaq’s work underscores the pivotal role played by Rsif in fostering a culture of innovation and scientific inquiry. Rsif scholars like Ishaq benefit from science paper writing courses delivered by icipe, which enables them to publish important work in high impact scientific journals. To date, 191 scientific articles are on record by Rsif PhD students published in highly reputable journals and available through the Digital Repository on the Rsif website.

The Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) is a flagship initiative of the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) that bridges the skills gap needed for a science, technology and innovation-led growth and sustainable development in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Current funders include nine African governments contributing between USD 1-6 million each (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Senegal); World Bank, Government of Korea, Samsung Dream Foundation, Government of France, the ACP Innovation Fund financed by the European Union through the Organisation for African, Caribbean

and Pacific States (OACPS) and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Rsif is open to new partners across industry, government and academia.

Why Rsif matters:

  • High quality PhD training: Combining intra-Africa academic exchange and international partnerships for world-class doctoral training.
  • Wider academic and research network: Research placement at an advanced institution for exposure to cutting-edge technologies and connecting with global research networks.
  • Regional integration within Africa: Strengthening centers of excellence and innovation ecosystems for benefit of the whole region.
  • Better economies of scale: A pan-African partnership, and a jointly pooled science fund professionally managed by the Rsif Regional Coordination Unit at icipe.

Moçambique compromete-se a fortalecer a capacidade de traduzir os resultados da investigação em utilizações prácticas para a diversificação económica.

4 de Dezembro de 2023: O Centro Internacional de Fisiologia e Ecologia de Insectos (icipe) (www.icipe.org), juntamente com o Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia e Ensino Superior da República de Moçambique, organizaram um Fórum para discutir o progresso da implementação de projectos de investigação e inovação de 6 a 9 de dezembro de 2023 em Vilankulo, Moçambique. Os projectos são financiados pelo projecto de Melhoria do Desenvolvimento de Competências em Moçambique (MozSkills), apoiado pelo Banco Mundial, através do qual Moçambique está a contribuir com 6 milhões de dólares para o Fundo Regional de Bolsas de Estudo e Inovação (Rsif) da Parceria para Competências em Ciências Aplicadas, Engenharia e Tecnologia (PASET) (www.paset-rsif.org). Esta contribuição destina-se à formação de estudantes de doutoramento moçambicanos e a projectos de investigação e inovação liderados por universidades e instituições de investigação moçambicanas. O icipe é a Unidade de Coordenação Regional do Rsif. O Fórum centrar-se-á nas medidas que estão a ser tomadas para desenvolver capacidades em Moçambique para traduzir os resultados da investigação em utilizações prácticas para a diversificação económica.

Moçambique, com uma população de 33 milhões de pessoas (2023) e um crescimento do PIB de 4,8% (2023), de acordo com o Banco Africano de Desenvolvimento, é uma das economias com crescimento mais rápido na África Subsariana. As indústrias extractivas e a agricultura são as que mais contribuem para o PIB de Moçambique. Com os seus abundantes recursos naturais, incluindo terras aráveis, água, energia e recursos minerais, Moçambique tem potencial para diversificar a sua economia. Mas transformar este potencial em realidade requer, entre outros, uma massa crítica de mão-de-obra cientificamente qualificada no mercado de trabalho. O aumento do investimento no ensino superior produz as competências e conhecimentos necessários para a diversificação económica. Até à data, 0,3% do PIB de Moçambique é gasto em investigação e desenvolvimento, o que é ainda inferior ao 1% do PIB recomendado pela União Africana; e existem apenas 43 investigadores (equivalente a tempo inteiro) por milhão de habitantes.

Para melhorar a sua base de competências científicas, excelência em investigação e inovação, Moçambique, através do Projecto MozSkills, juntou-se a outros oito países africanos do Rsif/PASET em 2021. Os oito países que também contribuem para o Rsif/PASET são o Benim, Burkina Faso, Costa do Marfim, Gana, Quénia, Nigéria, Ruanda e Senegal. O Rsif oferece a Moçambique a oportunidade de formar doutorados de alta qualidade através do intercâmbio académico intra-africano e de parcerias internacionais para formação de doutorados de classe mundial. Proporciona também uma rede académica e de investigação mais alargada através de estágios de investigação numa instituição avançada para exposição a tecnologias de ponta e ligação a redes de investigação globais, bem como integração regional em África através de centros de excelência e ecossistemas de inovação.

O Fórum reúne equipas de projecto moçambicanas, investigadores, parceiros colaboradores, líderes de instituições de implementação (reitores/directores), oradores principais, funcionários do governo, o Banco Mundial e o icipe, para partilhar experiências e discutir estratégias para melhorar a capacidade de traduzir os resultados da investigação em utilizações prácticas.

Com este compromisso, Moçambique está no caminho certo para construir instituições fortes e para formar futuros líderes científicos que tornarão possível a concretização da sua visão de crescimento e desenvolvimento orientados para a ciência e tecnologia.

Mozambique commits to building capacity for translating research outputs into practical uses for economic diversification.

4 December 2023: The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) (www.icipe.org), together with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Mozambique, have organized a Forum to discuss implementation progress of research and innovation projects on 6-9 December 2023 in Vilankulo, Mozambique. The projects are funded by the World Bank supported Improvement of Skills Development in Mozambique (MozSkills) project through which Mozambique is contributing US$ 6 million to the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) of the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) (www.paset-rsif.org). This contribution is towards training Mozambican PhD students and for research and innovation projects led by Mozambican universities and research institutions. icipe is the Regional Coordination Unit of the Rsif. The Forum will focus on measures being taken to build capacity within Mozambique for translating research outputs into practical uses for economic diversification.

Mozambique, with a population of 33 million people (2023) and GDP growth of 4.8% (2023) according to the African Development Bank, is one of the fastest growing economies in Sub Saharan Africa. Extractives and agriculture contribute the highest to the GDP of Mozambique. With its abundant natural resources, including arable land, water, energy and mineral resources, Mozambique has potential to diversify its economy. But turning this potential into reality requires, among others, a critical mass of scientifically skilled workforce in the labour market. Increasing investment in higher education produces the necessary skills and knowledge for economic diversification. So far, 0.3% of Mozambique’s GDP is spent on research and development, which is still lower than the 1% of GDP recommended by the African Union; and there are only 43 researchers (full time equivalent) per million inhabitants.

To improve its scientific skills base, research excellence and innovation, Mozambique, through the MozSkills Project, joined eight other African countries of the Rsif/PASET in 2021. The eight countries also contributing to the Rsif/PASET are Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Senegal. Rsif offers Mozambique the opportunity to train high quality PhDs through intra-Africa academic exchange and international partnerships for world-class doctoral training. It also provides a wider academic and research network through research placements at an advanced institution for exposure to cutting-edge technologies and connecting with global research networks, as well as regional integration within Africa through centers of excellence and innovation ecosystems.

The Forum brings together Mozambican project teams researchers, collaborating partners, leaders of implementing institutions (rectors / directors), keynote speakers, government officials, the World Bank and icipe, to share experiences and discuss strategies for improving capacity for translating research outputs into practical uses.

With such a commitment, Mozambique is on the right track of building strong institutions and nurturing future science leaders who will make it possible to realise its vision of a science and technology-led growth and development.

Two Rsif female PhD scholars receive the 2023 L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Sub-Saharan Africa Award

Each year, the L’Oréal UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents Sub Saharan Africa Awards recognize and support African women scientists for the excellence of their scientific research. Two Rsif cohort 2 students, Faith Njeru and Mwende Mbilo, who are both Kenyan citizens, were honored at the 14th award ceremony in Kasene, Botswana in the presence of His Excellency Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana, and aired on CNBC Africa on 9 November 2023.  Their remarkable accomplishment sets them apart from a formidable pool of 632 applicants, making them beacons of inspiration and achievement in the field of science.

Faith Njeru (33) is an Rsif PhD student in the food security and agribusiness thematic area at the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, Tanzania, one of Rsif’s African Host Universities (AHUs). Her international research placement is at Ghent University in Belgium. She was rewarded for her work on developing novel diagnostics to conserve Kenya’s maize crops.

“Early detection leads to less food loss, leading to food security and increased earnings for the farmers and the seed companies,” Faith told University World News. She explained that her research is aimed at developing a cheap, effective, easy-to-use paper strip test for plant disease detection based on novel molecules obtained from the serum of camels. The test will be used by farmers, seed companies and plant protection agencies to detect diseases early and initiate early-warning campaigns to help reduce crop loss. Her published scientific works are available through the Rsif digital repository.

Mwende Mbilo (30) is an Rsif PhD student in the energy including renewables thematic area at University of Nairobi with research placement to the Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT). She was rewarded for Iinnovating science to improve solar energy solutions in Kenya.

Her PhD research is on the Design of efficient and stable non-fullerene acceptor-based organic solar cells by buffer layer modification. Under the guidance of Prof. Robinson J. Musembi, she is a member of the research team implementing an Rsif funded research project on a Self-cleaning solar module for enhanced output and she also contributed to the UoN Department of Physics’ Research and development of photovoltaics based on lead-free perovskite solar cell technology. She has published 7 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

Rsif is a flagship initiative of the African government-led Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) that bridges the skills gap needed for a science, technology and innovation-led growth and sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa.  An integrated objective is addressing imbalances in the number of women and nurturing Africa’s next generation of female scientists. Icipe, the Rsif Regional Coordination Unit, emphasize high quality science.

The L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Young Talents programs aim to empower women scientists to pursue their career, and more broadly to promote and highlight the crucial importance of women in science. Along with the other winners, Faith Njeru and Mwende Mbilo had a chance to engage with the First Lady of Botswana, H.E. Mrs Neo Jane Masisi, and more than 150 school students in an intergenerational conversation and knowledge exchange. Women role models are important to inspire the younger generation.

The PhD candidate winners will receive a grant of Euro 10,000 to conduct their research projects and also benefit from leadership training by Fondation L’Oréal.

Read more in the Press Release on the event by L’Oréal Foundation.

icipe receives grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to support the PASET Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif)

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), receives grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to support the PASET Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) – the premier African-owned and managed pan-African science fund

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), will strengthen doctoral training and postdoctoral research in applied science, engineering and technology in Africa (DOCTAS), through the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) programme, with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY).

Launched in 2015, Rsif is the flagship programme of the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), an initiative established in 2013 by African governments and partners. Rsif provides doctoral scholarships and competitive grants for research and innovation. At least 40 percent of the scholarships and grants have been awarded to women. In 2018, icipe was competitively selected and appointed as the Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) of Rsif.

Through DOCTAS, CCNY will provide a total of USD 950,000 to Rsif over the next two years. Part of the support will be chanelled through the Rsif Junior Investigator Research Award. It will enable up to five Rsif PhD graduates who hold positions in institutions in Africa to establish research, managerial and other complementary skills, as well as regional and international networks that will allow them to become independent researchers. An additional 20 grants will be given to ongoing Rsif PhD scholars, thus boosting resources for research and outcomes. The DOCTAS initiative will also strengthen the ability of researchers to engage with policymakers, to link research to policy and practice.

“The Corporation’s Higher Education and Research in Africa program is  pleased to support icipe and Rsif to implement the DOCTAS initiative, which will further our long-term commitment to collaborate with, and support  universities and research organisations in Africa.” – Claudia Frittelli, Program Director, Carnegie Corporation of New York.

“We welcome the support from CCNY, which will be anchored in Rsif’s pan-African vision for scientific research and innovation capacity building. In just five years, Rsif has become one of the largest academic and research networks for nurturing the continent’s talent and leadership in applied sciences, engineering and technology.” – Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director General & CEO of icipe.

Rsif directly contributes to national developmental agendas; the African Union (AU) Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy (STISA) 2024; the Continental Strategy for Education in Africa (CESA); and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030. The importance of Rsif is signified by rising investments in the Programme by African governments including: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal. Further contributions have been provided by the World Bank, the Government of South Korea, and the ACP Innovation Fund of the European Union, through the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS).

Rsif has a unique approach that combines intra-Africa doctoral exchange and international training. This is achieved through a network of African Host Universities (AHUs) – competitively and rigorously selected universities; and international partner institutions (IPIs) – globally recognised universities, research institutes, public and private companies. This hybrid model ensures that the Rsif Phd scholars are initiated into research on challenges facing the continent, and that they also advance their scientific skills, broaden international networks, and strengthen industry linkages, among other outcomes.

Having started off with 15 PhD scholarships in 2018, by 2023 about 300 young African scholars (about 37 percent of them being women), from 24 African countries had been awarded Rsif PhD scholarships. The Rsif scholars have published a total of 142 peer-reviewed journal articles. Ten of the 15 cohort 1 scholars have completed their studies and they now hold various positions in universities in Africa, and eight of them have been awarded junior investigator research grants by Rsif.

Rsif also promotes research excellence, capacity for innovation, as well as enabling environments for entrepreneurship and research commercialisation in Africa. The Programme  provides grants and support to faculty in AHUs to implement projects that are aligned to national and regional development priorities. A total of 32 research and innovation grants have been awarded; and through a special agreement, 12 research and innovation grants have been provided to faculty and researchers in Mozambique.

Notes for Editors

The PASET Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) is the flagship programme of the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (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). PASET was launched in 2013 by the governments of Senegal, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Since then, the governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Rwanda, have invested in PASET. Other key partners and contributors are the World Bank and the Government of South Korea. In 2018, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), was competitively selected as the Rsif Regional Coordination Unit (RCU).

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.

icipe participates in the Launch of Grand Challenges Rwanda

icipe participates in the Launch of Grand Challenges Rwanda

icipe, Regional Coordination Unit for the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif), is pleased to have participated in the Launch of Grand Challenges Rwanda themed ‘Supporting research and development (R&D) through cooperation to promote excellence and scale of evidence-based innovations’. The launch took place from 18-19 May 2023 at Kigali Convention Center (KCC), Rwanda; alongside Rwanda’s National Council for Science and Technology (NCST), which led the event and initiative.

Rwanda is a founding member of PASET and was an early contributor to Rsif in 2018. Rwanda is the current chair of PASET and the first country to make a second additional USD 2 million contribution to Rsif. There are 22 competitively selected Rwandan Rsif PhD students in five thematic areas in eight different African Host Universities across the continent; four Rwandan Rsif alumni and 39 publications by Rwandan Rsif students. University of Rwanda was competitively selected as an Rsif African host university in ICT, including artificial intelligence and data science in 2019. The ACE Internet of Things (IoT) is hosting 18 Rsif funded students (44% women) from eleven different nationalities. Seven Rsif funded research and innovation projects are under implementation in Rwanda. Read more about Rsif in Rwanda here.

The goal of Grand Challenges is to support most creative scientists to collaborate with their colleagues in Africa and globally, to implement research that fosters innovation in solving the most critical development challenges in Africa.

The launch was attended by key players across the national, regional and global arena to deliberate on strategies for improved investment in Research & Development (R&D). Participants at the launch in Kigali were welcome to interact with icipe’s research and innovations displayed at the exhibition booth. The event and exhibition amplified icipe’s existing scientific collaborations with Rwanda, demonstrated some of icipe’s scalable technologies that are relevant for Rwanda, and presented new opportunities for collaboration with Rwandan scientists on frontier research.

The concept of Grand Challenges was established in 2003 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation at World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to fund ground-breaking scientific research on specific unique health challenges in a country using bold mind ideas and innovative solutions.

Grand Challenges prioritize funding opportunity to high-level quality ideas by researchers and innovators with exciting ground-breaking innovative research projects leading to products and services as unique solutions. The emphasis is that research developed in partnership with industries, companies and academic institutions using highly recognized labs, industries, innovation hubs and other settings leads to products, services and knowledge and technology transfer, as well as strengthen the ties between global and African collaborators.

Several African countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa and Botswana have launched Grand challenges. Science Foundation for Africa (SFA) based in Nairobi coordinates Grand challenges in Africa to develop innovations on the African continent. In partnership with national stakeholders, Science for Africa Foundation (SFA) and AUDA-NEPAD National Council for Science and Technology (NCST)

Rwanda hopes to support the most creative scientists to implement research that fosters innovation and promotes collaboration in solving the most critical development challenges in Rwanda and Africa. These collaborations are seen to be between industries and academic institutions using highly recognized labs, innovation hubs and other actors in Africa and globally.

For more information about this event visit: https://www.ncst.gov.rw/gc-rwanda/about-gc-rwanda; https://www.ncst.gov.rw/news-detail/launch-of-grand-challenges-rwanda



World Bank, icipe and Partners to Evaluate Progress of PASET’s Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund Implementation in African Host Universities

The Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Technology (PASET) has announced that the World Bank and its partners will conduct an Implementation Support Mission (ISM) from 28th – 31st  March 2023, to evaluate the progress of the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) implementation.

The Rsif program, which is the flagship initiative of PASET, supports PhD and post-doctoral training, research and innovation at selected universities in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) to enhance the institutional capacity for quality research and innovation for economic growth and the eradication of poverty. The program focuses on five Priority Thematic Areas, that is, ICT (including artificial intelligence, robotics, bid data.), food security and agribusiness, minerals, mining and materials engineering, energy (including renewables), and climate change.

With the help of African governments, the World Bank, and the Government of Korea, Rsif has supported over 291 PhD students, of which over 37% (104) are women. It has also provided 44 research and innovation grants through 15 African ‘Host’ Universities (AHUs). Rsif’s accomplishments underscore its commitment to bridging the science, engineering and technology gap in the African continent.

The Regional Coordination Unit of Rsif is managed by the International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology, icipe, which is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. PASET’s Rsif program benefits from icipe’s over 50 years experiences in research, innovation and capacity building in the agricultural sciences.

The World Bank, icipe and its partners will meet face to face at icipe’s Duduville campus and virtually from 29-31 March to discuss implementation progress of the initiative. They will also visit the University of Nairobi and Kenyatta University during the Implementation Support Mission to meet with students, staff and the private sector to review research and innovation grant projects financed through Rsif and pay courtesy calls to the Vice-Chancellors of both universities.

“The visit by the World Bank and its partners presents a unique opportunity for stakeholders to interact with one another and discuss the progress and challenges of implementing the Rsif program,” said Dr. Moses Osiru, the Rsif’s Regional Coordination Unit Manager at icipe. “We invite the media to attend this event and engage with the stakeholders on the progress of the Rsif program.”

The visit is a significant step towards achieving PASET’s goal of promoting socio-economic transformation in sub-Saharan Africa through the strengthening of applied sciences, engineering, and technology.

For additional information on Rsif and PASET, please visit www.rsif-paset.org|Kindly sign up for our newsletter for Rsif news.

Contact: Rsif Regional Coordination Unit Email: rsif@icipe.org Phone: 254 (20) 8632000


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.