Four African universities join Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF)

19 Aug 2021 0


Four more universities have joined the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) as African Host Universities (AHUs), bringing the new total to 15. RSIF AHUs are universities or research institutes/centres (e.g. Africa Centers of Excellence) in sub-Saharan Africa that offer a strong PhD program in one of the priority thematic areas. Launched in 2017, RSIF is the flagship program for the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), an African-led initiative with the goal of strengthening skills in the Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (ASET) to further socio-economic transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

RSIF focuses on transformative technologies that have a far-reaching positive impact on society. It supports PhD students, post-doctoral scientists and universities in SSA to establish high quality training, research and innovation environments and to develop institutional capacity for the benefit of the whole region. The four new RSIF host universities will host PhD students in RSIF’s fourth cohort, for which the competitive call for PhD scholarships is currently open until 30 September 2021.

2iE – International Institute of Water and Environmental Engineering is an international institute for education and research committed to covering areas of water, environment, energy, civil engineering, mining and managerial sciences through training of highly qualified and innovative entrepreneurial engineers in Africa. Located in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the selected PhD program at 2iE is in Science and Technology of Water, Energy and Environment, in the African Centre of Excellence for Training and Research in Water and Environment Sciences and Technologies in West Africa (CEA-IMPACT 2iE).

Haramaya University  is a pre-eminent institution of higher learning in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia that have pioneered the field of agricultural sciences and the provisioning of the tripartite functions of education, research, and extension. The selected PhD programme at HU is in Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation, under the Africa Center of Excellence for Climate Smart Agriculture and Biodiversity Conservation (ACE Climate SABC).

Makerere University (MAK), located in Kampala, Uganda, is one of the oldest and most prestigious English Universities in Africa, having been established in 1922 as a humble technical school. Committed to providing transformative and innovative teaching, learning and research responsive to dynamic national and global needs, the selected PhD programme at MU is in Plant Breeding and Biotechnology, within the Makerere University Regional Centre for Crop Improvement (MaRCCI).

The University of Abomey-Calavi (UAC) is the principal public university in the west African country of Benin. Composed of 19 institutions and six campuses, the selected PhD program is in Information and Communication Technologies of the Institute of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, African Centre of Excellence in Mathematical Sciences, IT and applications (SMIA).

Competitively selected by an independent, international panel of experts and endorsed by the PASET Executive Board, the other AHUs in the program include the African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Kenyatta University (KU) and The Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology (NM-AIST) in the Minerals, mining and materials engineering thematic area; Bayero University Kano (BUK), and University Félix Houphouët-Boigny (U-FHB) in the Climate change thematic area; University of Nairobi (UoN) and University of Port Harcourt in the Energy including renewables thematic area; Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and University of Ghana (UG) in the Food security and agribusiness thematic area; University of Gaston Berger (UGB) and University of Rwanda (UR) in the ICTs including big data and artificial intelligence thematic area.

This increase in the number of host universities is a big step towards achieving one of the program’s objectives, which is to build African university capacity to provide relevant ASET training and to ensure continued investment in scaling up the ASET education and workforce by incorporating sandwich training options. The program also aims to build research excellence in ASET fields by developing the capacity for PhD training and undertaking applied research and innovation in partnership with a network of renowned International Partner Universities (IPIs) and strengthen research capacity regionwide by prioritizing the scholarships to African faculty that lack PhD training.

RSIF aims to support doctoral training and post-doctoral research and innovation in the five priority economic sectors for growth and development across Sub- Saharan Africa. The program uses scholarships together with research and innovation grants that improve the quality and relevance of the PhD programs to guarantee continuity and sustainability of research and innovations once the scholars graduate. RSIF is currently funded by African governments, the World Bank, the Government of Korea, and the European Union through the ACP Innovation Fund and managed by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Nairobi, Kenya, as the RSIF Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU). More funders and partners are invited to join the first Africa-led Pan-African science fund.