Five Junior Investigative Research Awards (JIRA) Granted to Rsif Graduates

Following the PASET Executive Board’s approval, five research grants have been awarded to Rsif PhD Graduates, for the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) Junior Investigative Research Award (JIRA).

The awardees include Dr. David Oluwasegun Afolayan and Dr. Richard Koech from African University of Science and Technology (AUST), who will work on Additive-assisted Fabrication of Efficient and Stable Perovskite Solar Cells, and Characterization of Cleaved Baryte Surface-Interfaces and Computational Study of Interactions of Baryte Ore-based Middling Particles for enhanced Mineral liberation and Recovery, respectively; Dr Jean Nepomuscene Hakizimana from Sokoine University of Agriculture, who will work on Leveraging pathogen genomics for an improved domestic pig health and production by mapping African swine fever virus transmission dynamics at the wildlife-livestock interface in Tanzania;  Dr. Noel Gahamanyi from University of Rwanda, who will work on Prevalence, antimicrobial susceptibility profiles, and genotypes of thermophilic Campylobacter species from humans and animals in selected regions of Rwanda; and Dr. Emmanuel Effah from Gaston Berger Université (UGB), who will work on Robust and Affordable Smart Agri-IoT Technology.

The researchers commenced implementation of their projects in April 2023; and have already received a two-day training on grant management, reporting and compliance to impart best practices and enhance compliance to Rsif requirements.

The Rsif Junior Investigative Research Award is designed to provide support to Rsif post-doctoral scientists. Its primary objective is to foster the establishment of research careers among these individuals. By unlocking the research potential of recently graduated Rsif PhD scholars, JIRA contributes to the overall enhancement of research excellence within the organization.

JIRA serves to bolster the research capacity of the institution by providing opportunities for newly graduated PhD scholars who are also staff members to gain valuable experience in leading research projects. By engaging in such projects, these emerging scientists acquire essential research leadership and managerial skills, which are instrumental in their professional development.

One of the key benefits of the JIRA program is that it assists the recipients in settling down at their respective home institutions, facilitating the establishment of their research careers. This is achieved by capitalizing on existing networks as well as establishing new connections with local and international partners. By fostering collaboration and networking, JIRA enables the emerging scientists to leverage their skills and expertise, ultimately contributing to their long-term success in the field of research.

Overall, the Rsif Junior Investigative Research Award (JIRA) aims to empower post-doctoral scientists by supporting their research endeavours, facilitating career development, and promoting collaborations, all of which contribute to the growth and advancement of research excellence within the organization.

See profiled research projects below:

Additive-assisted Fabrication of Efficient and Stable Perovskite Solar Cells 

University: African University of Science and Technology (AUST)

Project Leader: Dr. Richard Koech

Collaborating Partners:1. Moi University: (i) Prof Samwel Rotich, Dr. Kiptiemoi Korir and Dr. Geoffrey Yegon, all from Mathematics, Physics and computing Department (ii) Dr. Sarah Chepkwony from Chemistry and Biochemistry Department 2. CEMHTI-CNRS, France: Prof Esidor Ntsoenzo

Duration:2 years

Characterization of Cleaved Baryte Surface-Interfaces and Computational Study of Interactions of Baryte Ore-based Middling Particles for enhanced Mineral liberation and Recovery

University: African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja.

Project Leader:Dr. David Oluwasegun Afolayan

Collaborating Partners:Professor Winston O. Soboyejo, Interim President, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, USA & Head, Wole Soboyejo Research Groups; Dr. Nelson Yaw Dzade, Head, Minerals and Materials Research Group, Pennsylvania State University, PA, USA ; D

Duration:24 months

Leveraging pathogen genomics for an improved domestic pig health and production by mapping African swine fever virus transmission dynamics at the wildlife-livestock interface in Tanzania

Thematic Area: Food security and agribusiness

University: Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro, Tanzania

Project LeaderDr Jean Nepomuscene Hakizimana

Collaborating Partners: Ghent University, Merelbeke, Ghent, Belgium; The Roslin Institute and Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Easter Bush, Midlothian, United Kingdom

Duration: 24 months

Prevalence, antimicrobial susceptibility profiles, and genotypes of thermophilic Campylobacter species from humans and animals in selected regions of Rwanda

Thematic Area: Food security and agribusiness

University: University of Rwanda

Project LeaderDr. Noel Gahamanyi

Collaborating Partners: Sokoine University of Agriculture; Kansas State University

Duration: 2 years

Robust and Affordable Smart Agri-IoT Technology

Thematic Area: ICTs including big data and artificial intelligence

University: Gaston Berger Université (UGB)

Project Leader: Dr. Emmanuel Effah

Collaborating Partners: Dr William A. Agangiba, Team Member (Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, UMaT-Ghana) ; Dr. Ivy Botchway, Team Member (Lecturer, Department of Computer Science and Engineering, UMaT-Ghana) ;Professor Ousmane Thiare, Inter

Duration: 2 years

See more details on awarded projects here.

Rsif Cohort 5 Call for PhD Scholarships for Rwanda and Nigeria Nationals

The Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund’s call for applications for Cohort 5 will be open until May 26, 2023. The program will run for 3-4 years, including 6-12 months in a ‘sandwich’ training at an international partner university, research institute or private company.

Eligible candidates should be citizens of Rwanda or Nigeria; hold a relevant Master’s degree; meet the admission requirements of the Rsif African host university they are applying to; their research goals aligned with Rsif priority thematic areas and contributing to Africa’s development.

Rsif is the first Pan-African science fund that provides doctoral scholarships for African scientists in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology. Rsif aims to train quality PhD students and post-doctoral researchers at selected African universities (African Host Universities) to address the human resource gap of highly qualified specialists in the fields of applied sciences, engineering, and technology and to contribute to improving research and innovation capacities in those fields in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rsif focuses on transformative technologies that have a far-reaching positive impact on society.

The doctoral scholarships are funded by African Governments and key partners (World Bank, Government of Korea) through the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET). More investors are encouraged to join. Rsif is implemented by icipe as the Rsif Regional Coordination Unit.

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Contact: Rsif Regional Coordination Unit Email: Phone: 254 (20) 8632000

PASET members reconfirm commitment to uplift science solutions for Africa’s industrialization

The Partnership in Applied Sciences Engineering and Technology (PASET) Governance Meetings hosted by Rwanda, through the Ministry of Education were held in Kigali on February 1st and 2nd 2023 respectively. This first in-person meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic was attended by High-level government officials from the sub-Saharan African member governments including Ministers of Education/Higher Education/TVET, senior Government representatives, high level representatives from the World Bank, Korea and Scientists, Academics and Private Sector Representatives who are members of the Consultative Advisory Group. The The meeting reviewed PASET achievements to date and strategy into the next decade.

Dr Valentine Uwamariya, Minister of Education Rwanda and current Chair of the Governing Council of PASET said: “We are delighted with the progress made especially through the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund, Rsif.  I note with great satisfaction that 37% of these PhD scholars are women. This is significantly above the global average of 28% of women in Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (ASET) areas. PASET is led by African Governments, focused on ensuring a critical mass of well-trained scientists, engineers, technologists, and innovators to drive the development of business and industries that can add value to Africa’s rich array of natural resources and people”.

Dr Valentine Uwamariya, Rwanda Minister of Education and PASET Governing Chair

PASET was launched in 2013, with the support from the World Bank to strengthen Applied Science, Engineering and Technology contribution to socio-economic transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The founding members; Governments of Rwanda, Ethiopia and Senegal established PASET 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. The shared aspiration is to build a skilled labour force by focusing on the continuum of skills from foundational skills to upper secondary/technical/vocational training as well as higher education, scientific research and innovation. Since its creation, eight additional governments have joined the initiative, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Tanzania, bringing current PASET membership to 11 African governments with more in process of joining.

PASET’s flagship program is the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) which is also the first Pan-African Science fund to “pool” regional investments to support PhD students, post-doctoral scientists, and African universities to establish high-quality training, research, and innovation environments and to develop university institutional capacity for the benefit of the whole Africa region. Managed by icipe as its Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) since 2018, Rsif aims to:

  1. Create a stock of highly skilled scientists, professionals, and innovators in ASET areas
  2. Identify and nurture young talented Africans who wish to further their studies in ASET fields where expertise is needed most
  3. Address imbalances in the number of women and disadvantaged groups in ASET fields in Africa
  4. Build African university capacity to provide relevant ASET training and to ensure continued investment in scaling up the ASET education and workforce.

With excellence at its core, Rsif enables the delivery of knowledge and science solutions for priority challenges facing the continent and the world. It prioritizes five strategic sectors for Africa’s industrialization and socio-economic transformation:

  • Food security and agribusiness
  • Climate change
  • ICT including data science and artificial intelligence.
  • Energy including renewables
  • Minerals, mining, and materials engineering.

Rsif strengthens innovation ecosystems in targeted regional centres of excellence,  strengthening university linkages with private and public sector. The unique PASET-Rsif network benefits from the leadership of African Ministers in charge of Higher Education, Science and Innovation backed by Heads of State.

Some of Rsif’s achievements to date include 291 PhD scholarships awarded to talented and motivated young Africans from 24 African nationalities; 116 scientific papers published by our scholars in quality outlets; and over 50 research and innovation grants awarded to African research institutions.

Dr Moses Osiru, Rsif RCU Manager, icipe

The members of PASET leadership appreciated the successful meeting hosted in Rwanda reaffirming the unique role of PASET in providing a comprehensive regional approach to developing the necessary skills in STEM areas at the higher education and TVET level. Members held fruitful deliberations, including on the PASET evaluation, PASET 2024-2034 strategy, transition of the PASET secretariat to the African continent, and the 6th PASET forum and related events to be hosted in Dakar Senegal by President Macky Sall in November 2023.

In her closing remarks, Minister Uwamariya, the PASET GC Chair thanked the World Bank, emphasizing that their support has been essential in the establishment of PASET and in achieving the results to date. She thanked the Government of Korea for its financial support and for hosting the RSIF scholars sandwich program. She looked forward to the continued support of the World Bank and the Government of Korea and to welcoming new partners who will strengthen PASET’s objectives to leverage knowledge related to international best practices and experiences as well as to take advantage of global networks.

The Chair also acknowledged the strong leadership of icipe in Rsif, and thanked all the member countries for their confidence in PASET’s vision and objectives as PASET continues to grow towards achieving the goals that were set in the Dakar communique that established PASET.


See summary video from PASET governance meetings here. 


Rsif-Mozambique partnership progress

The official launch and results sharing seminar for the Improvement for Skills Development in Mozambique (MozSkills) Project funded by the World Bank through the government of Mozambique was physically held at the Hotel Cardoso in Maputo Mozambique on 13th and 14th   October 2022, with some partners and stakeholders joining virtually. The Mozskills project is supported by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), through the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif), in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology of Mozambique.

The Mozskills Project aims to support Mozambican researchers, scientists and innovators from Mozambican universities, public research institutes and private sector firms with innovative ideas that could be commercialized to generate innovative ideas and advance their research excellence.

The aim of the launch and seminar was to assess the progress of the project and enhance communication with the key stakeholders.  It was also to mobilise engagement and offer support to project teams to prepare them for the various implementation roles.

During the two-day event, the first day focused on the official launch of the project, as well as capacity building, Monitoring and Evaluation; and awareness activities targeting the project grantees, while the second day focused on the Rsif Mozskills and Institutional Development Fund (IDF) Projects Results Sharing Seminar of the 4th Call for PhD scholarships, research and innovation grants.

The purpose of the seminar, which was held on 14th October, was to share the results of the 1st component of the Mozskills Project and to reinforce the quality of higher education and strengthen the capacity for research and innovation in Mozambique. During the event, the institutions and the selected grantees sign the term of commitment to use funds to be allocated efficiently and transparently.

The government of Mozambique, through Mozskills, has contributed to Rsif, by financing competitive grants and scholarships with an objective to train high quality PhD and post-doctoral students to address the human resource gap in the fields of applied sciences, engineering, and technology (ASET) and to contribute to improving research and innovation capacities in those fields in Mozambique. The Rsif component contributes to other initiatives by the Government that aim to enhance the local national science, technology, and innovation system.

“Rsif’s role is to support the building of a critical mass of high-quality researchers and innovators on the continent, and not just male, but male and female. As part of this, we focus first on south- south partnerships to enhance the capacity of our universities to produce high quality postgraduate students in the applied sciences, engineering and technology.” Dr Moses Osiru, Rsif Manager

Since signing of the grant agreement in 2021, a total of 32 PhD students’ scholarships have been awarded to Mozambican nationals with merit, and twelve of 21 research and innovation grants have been selected. The scholars will join 246 scholars from other countries that have previously been awarded the scholarship. Rsif’s support is broadly aimed at supporting the strengthening of Mozambique’s Education, Science and Technology sector, by making use of Rsif’s regional mechanism to enhance access to high quality advanced research institutions, reduce inbreeding, and support regional and international networking across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the globe.

Mozambique has joined Rsif with an unequivocal conviction of the importance of this initiative to strengthen the capacity for research and innovation in Africa and our country in particular. We wish to congratulate the selected grants but above all, wish them success in the formation and implementation of the Projects.” Hon. Prof. Daniel Daniel Nivagara, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Mozambique and member of the PASET Governing Council.

Hon. Prof. Daniel Daniel Nivagara, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Mozambique and member of the PASET Governing Council.

At the end of the launch meeting, the project grantees and scholars will be able to create a shared vision and understanding of key issues to facilitate project management. The grant beneficiaries will also gain access to high-quality complimentary capacity building and professional development opportunities that will foster talent, build networks, and encourage cross- disciplinary collaboration.

Follow @PasetRsif on twitter for more information about the launch.

Two Rsif scholars at Kenyatta University share their Rsif PhD experience.

Afia Owusuah Akyaw (Ghanaian) and Agoundedemba Maklewa (Togolese) are Rsif Scholarship recipients in the third Cohort pursing a PhD in Minerals, mining and materials engineering at Kenyatta University (KU), Nairobi, Kenya. Afia’s PhD Research focuses on the study of thermal and chemical stability of Perovskite Tandem Solar Cells in various environmental conditions while Maklewa’s PhD Research focuses on improving the performance of solar cells. In the interview below, Afiah (A) and Maklewa (M) share their PhD journey.

Q. When did you join the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (Rsif) program?

A: I reported on 4th October 2021

M: I joined on 19th October 2021

Q. What does acquiring this PhD mean for you and your country?

A: I was driven to study energy and renewable research because of frequent power outages in my country, Ghana. My main aim is to acquire the skill that will enable me to solve that problem by collaborating with other researchers to find a solution.

M: The day I received this PhD scholarship was one of the happiest days of my life because it had always been my dream to acquire a PhD in Physics, which provides an opportunity that will open doors for me in the future.

Q. How does it feel to study away from your home country?

A: I am used to it since I studied in Switzerland and did my masters in Spain. I deliberately chose to apply for the PASET-Rsif program because I was bored of studying in Europe, and was excited to study in Africa, especially in Kenya because I was intrigued by Kenyans and their behaviour.

M: It is my first time to travel and study in another country, and my first time being an English-speaking country. It has been my aim to study in an Anglophone country because most Science is taught in English. I chose to study in Kenyatta University because they offer research on energy, which is what I was interested in, and wanted to try studying in a different environment from West Africa.

Q. What challenges have you been facing as a PhD scholar?

A: My biggest challenge to find a suitable and conducive environment to stay near the university, as the accommodation places available near the university are noisy.

The other challenge is that most African universities do not have sufficient facilities for the Material Science field. It is actually my dream to establish at least one good facility in Africa where students from all over Africa can access and use.

M: My biggest challenge is the language barrier, but I am learning English so that I can have an easier time going by and even attending Conferences and meetings.

The second challenge I faced is looking for accommodation, which can be challenging for a foreign student.

Q. What is your experience as a PhD scholar under the Rsif program?

A: It is a blessing for me. I have been studying through scholarships for most of my life, and the difference with Rsif is that Rsif is concerned with the scholars’, and not just the academic part. For example, through the different capacity building programmes like webinars, seminars, which are areas the university is not able to focus on. In fact, I invite my friends to join some of these programmes so that they can benefit too.

M: It is an honour for me to be under the PASET-Rsif Scholarship, because through these capacity building programmes, I have learnt that it is not only about receiving a degree, but also developing the skills. This scholarship has been a steppingstone to help achieve my dream, because in my country there are no equipment to study material science, but through the PASET-Rsif scholarship, I have been able to do so.

Q. What problem is your study solving in your country?

M: My study is in solar cell energy because of frequent power outages in my country. We also import most of our power from Nigeria and Ghana, therefore I seek to find a solution, and ensure Togo can independently supply its power through solar energy.

A: Silicone solar panels are expensive, so I am working on a material which if stabilized by 2030, every home should be able to afford a solar panel. The challenge is that the material is not stable yet, which is why I am studying it.

Q. What are your expected outcomes of your research by the end of your study?

A: I want to be a researcher and combine it with lecturing. I hope that after this training I will be equipped to collaborate with scientist all over the world to further my knowledge and continue working on energy materials.

M: I did my Maters in renewable energy but realized that I do not have the practical knowledge to put my study in action. I therefore hope to be a lecturer or adviser for the solar module industry after I finish my PhD, and to set up my own industry.

Q. What message do you have for Rsif?

A: First I would like to thank the African governments and partners for making the Rsif scholarship possible, and the Rsif capacity building team.

I would also like to urge PhD students to make use of their degrees, and not just shelf them once they are done. If universities can collaborate with the industries, like in advanced countries, such that the PhD topics are provided according to industry needs, then students can be guaranteed of utilizing the skills they developed during their study, to impact on their countries and African as a whole.

M: I would like to thank Rsif, and all its sponsors and partners, for this scholarship and to urge Rsif to keep the initiative going and keep supporting young Africans to pursue their PhDs, especially because it is not easy to receive support.

Additionally, I would like to ask Rsif to seek partnerships with some industries within Africa so that the research work that we do can be used in the industry once we finish studying, which can build the capacity of Africa.

What message do you have for Rsif scholars beginning their PhD journey?

M: I would like to encourage you, that studying your PhD is achievable, as long as you stay focused on your aims and work hard.

AGriDI conducts Annual Implementers Forum

The Annual Implementers Forum for third-party projects for the Accelerating inclusive green growth through Agri-based digital innovation in West Africa (AGriDI) project was physically held in Kumasi, Ghana from 28th November to 3rd December 2022. This followed the official launch of the project, which was physically held at Hotel Azalai in Cotonou, Benin in March 2022.  The main objective of the Annual Implementers Forum (AIF) was to share preliminary results achieved by third-party projects, challenges met and the way forward in the implementation of the projects; and to build the technical and financial capacity of third-party projects.

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 implementation model of AGriDI involves a competitive grant scheme for projects implemented by academic and research institutions, ministries, and government agencies responsible for ICT or science, technology, and innovation (STI), farmer cooperatives, SMEs, and civil society groups in the ECOWAS region. AGriDI also provides technical assistance and know-how to the project grantees for the development and scaling the use of digital technologies for agricultural development. With a total of EUR 2.73 million available for grants to third-party projects, 10 grants were awarded in April 2021 as follows:

  • 4 proposals under Category 1 (Co-development & adaptation of digital solutions)
  • 4 proposals under Category 2 (Digital innovations for establishing market linkages)
  • 2 proposals under Category 3 (Policies for digital innovation).

AGriDI is a 4-year intervention that aims to provide a conducive environment for agri-based digital innovations, especially for women and youth farmers, and accelerating inclusive green growth in West African countries, and will be implemented in the ECOWAS states in Western Africa region. It is expected to lead to; (i) increased uptake of agri-based digital technologies by farmers’ cooperatives and SMEs especially women and youth in the region; (ii) strengthened collaboration between research communities, industry and policy actors in digital innovations and (iii) improved knowledge on policymaking facilitating the scaling of agri-business digital innovations

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. It is co-funded by the OACPS R&I Programme, a programme implemented by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and financed by the European Union (EU).

By the end of the forum, the third-party projects had effectively presented and discussed their achieved results, lessons learnt from the projects’ implementation, identified technical and financial challenges, and strengthened capacity. They also had an improved understanding of the stakeholders involved, for improved implementation.

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

RSIF Morocco Policymakers

The 2022 Pan African hybrid RSIF conference was held on 28-29 June 2022 at University Mohammed VI Polytechnic, Ben Guerir, Morocco. 102 participants attended in person and 1,082 virtually. Watch the thoughts on RSIF Morocco Policymakers.

CLOSING SESSION: RSIF-UM6P Pan-African Hybrid Conference

Recording from the closing session of the Pan-African hybrid RSIF-UM6P University Conference, which was held from 28-29 June 2022 in Ben Guerir, Morocco and online.

The conference theme was: African-led science, technology, and innovation for contributing to the SDGs and stimulating global development.

A total of 102 participants attended in person at UM6P in Morocco and 1,082 attended virtually.

Moderator: Mr. Bonface Nyagah, RSIF-RCU Reading of the meeting communique

Closing remarks