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”.
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:
- Create a stock of highly skilled scientists, professionals, and innovators in ASET areas
- Identify and nurture young talented Africans who wish to further their studies in ASET fields where expertise is needed most
- Address imbalances in the number of women and disadvantaged groups in ASET fields in Africa
- 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.
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.
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 conducts Monitoring and Evaluation visits to African Host Universities (AHUs)
The Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) team conducted physical monitoring and evaluation field visits to Kenyatta University, University of Nairobi, University of Rwanda and Sokoine University, Tanzania and University of Ghana, five of the 15 competitively selected African Host Universities (AHUs). These first visits took place between 26 October- 4 November 2022 to discuss implementation progress and challenges with the scholars and grantees and to propose remedial actions to facilitate implementation. The teams paid a courtesy call on the Vice Chancellors of the Universities. More visits are expected to continue through to December 2022.
The AHUs host RSIF sponsored PhD scholars in selected PhD programs within the universities. They also undertake projects with support from the RSIF grants. To date, a total of 291 scholarships have been awarded to African students and 33 competitive research and innovation grants awarded to faculty in the host universities, to implement research projects that solve key developmental issues relevant to the region.
Follow all RSIF Social media platforms for real time updates on the visits to Host Universities.
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.
Draft Communique: Pan-African hybrid RSIF- UM6P Conference June 29 2022
PAN-AFRICAN HYBRID REGIONAL SCHOLARSHIP AND INNOVATION FUND (RSIF)- UNIVERSITY MOHAMMED VI POLYTECHNIC (UM6P) CONFERENCE
Theme: African-led science, technology, and innovation for contributing to the SDGs and stimulating global development
- The 2022 Pan African hybrid Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF)- University Mohammed VI Polytechnic (UM6P) Conference held from 28-29 June, 2022 in-person at UM6P campus in Ben Guerir, Morocco, and virtually for the larger audience was organised jointly by RSIF’s Regional Coordination Unit, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) (icipe.org), and UM6P, (www.um6p.ma), which is an RSIF International Partner Institution in Africa.
Download the complete Draft Hybrid Conference Comminique June 29
University of Rwanda scientists investigate how digital tools could help families monitor indoor air pollution
Air pollution is a growing challenge for Africa, with the rapid population growth, industrial growth and consumption growth which have greatly contributed to increased levels of pollution. While a lot of attention has been given to managing outdoor air pollution, indoor air pollution is proving to be the silent killer to many African homes where majority of the families still burn wood and use other biomass to cook and heat their homes. Children and pregnant women are significantly affected. While deaths from indoor air pollution in Africa have declined by about 15% since 1990, the overall number of deaths is still high at over 400,000 as at 2017 according to a report published by UNICEF in 2019. It is therefore imperative to create awareness of the dangers associated with the indoor air pollution exposure to African families.
The University of Rwanda’s Centre of Excellence on Internet of Things (IoT), Embedded Computing Systems with funding from the PASET Regional Scholarship’s competitive grants scheme, in close collaboration with a team from Makerere University is implementing a project to assess the levels of indoor air pollution in rural and urban communities in Rwanda. The project aims to develop an IoT monitoring device that will help families assess the levels of indoor air pollution in their homes and propose mechanisms to help families implement measures to reduce the high levels of indoor air pollution detected to the acceptable levels as guided by the World Health Organization. The tool will also provide general information to create awareness to the families on the causes, dangers, and mitigation measures for indoor air pollution.
This far, the project team has completed the design of the IoT indoor air pollution prototype and produced three of the 60 IoT devices to be developed through this initiative, the tool has been deployed to pilot sites and is able to collect necessary data in the homes and feed to a centralized monitoring system for data processing.
The project is also mentoring five PhD students from the university who have received hands on training on developing the IoT prototype in addition to participating in various short courses on the embedded systems which have exposed them to different technologies used in IoT prototyping. The students are also using new tools for data collection and data visualization. Besides mentoring PhD students, other partners involved in the project have also gained more skills such as backend development for centralized data storage systems. The project will also train the local community on the use of the Indoor IoT monitoring tool for increased uptake.
Students soldering the IoT prototyping device
The whole project concept was made clear through the prototype presentation. I got to learn more about the Arduino platform, Sensors (humidity sensor in particular), and programming behind the GSM module said Barbara Asingwire, RSIF Scholar, University of Rwanda
I have learned the basics of embedded systems and knowing the keywords that are used. I have seen that there are plenty of opportunities in that field and I expect to chase them as well. I have learned how I can connect humidity sensor and temperature sensor to Arduino, and we programmed them said Eric Nizeyimana, RSIF Scholar, University of Rwanda
RSIF students learning how to design their first IoT Prototype device(s)
The “Real Time Assessment of indoor air pollution in Rwanda rural and urban households” is one of 16 projects currently being funded through the RSIF Research Grants window. The grants are competitively awarded to faculty of RSIF African Host Universities (AHUs), to undertake research that has practical solutions in five priority thematic areas identified by the Partnership for Skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET). The project is significantly contributing to Rwanda’s National Strategy Framework on Climate Change and Low Carbon Development. Through this strategy, the country has taken a big step towards achieving socio-economic development that is resilient to economic, social and environmental shocks related to population growth, and climate change as well as global visions to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).