Significant milestone for doctoral training, research and innovation in Africa

Pauline Achoka
14 Nov 2019 0

Nairobi, Kenya, Monday, 7 October 2019: The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), in its capacity as the Coordination Unit of the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF), has signed Partnership Agreements with the Fund’s 11 African Host Universities (AHUs).

The RSIF is the flagship initiative of the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET). Led by African governments, PASET aims to address fundamental gaps in skills and knowledge necessary for long-term, sustained economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Specifically, RSIF aims to train at least 10,000 PhDs in 10 years, while also strengthening research and innovation in applied sciences, engineering and technology (ASET). The initiative is currently funded by contributions from African governments, the World Bank and the Government of Korea.

The AHUs are competitively and rigorously selected universities, research institutes or centres based in Africa that offer a PhD programme in any one of the RSIF priority thematic areas. The universities host RSIF PhD scholars, and partner with icipe in capacity building. They also receive grants for research and innovation from RSIF.
The signing of the Partnership Agreements was officiated by the Ministry of Education, Kenya (currently the Chair of the Governing Council of PASET). The meeting participants were Vice Chancellors of the 10 RSIF AHUs, representatives of the PASET Executive Board, the Consultative Advisory Group, the World Bank, the Ministry of Education Kenya, icipe staff, and various high-level delegates.

Significant milestone
“The Partnership Agreements between icipe and the AHUs marks a significant milestone towards realising the goals of RSIF, arguably Africa’s most innovative and ambitious effort towards strengthening capacity in ASET,” noted Prof. Aminata Sall Diallo, chairperson PASET Executive Board.

“We now have a framework that will enable the AHUs to benefit fully from opportunities available through RSIF, including accessing young scientific talent, grants, and various opportunities to strengthen PhD training.”
Moreover, the structure will inform efforts by the AHUs to partner with stringently chosen international institutions in their areas of expertise, where RSIF scholars may conduct part of their studies. This process will lead to a network system that ensures collaborative and innovative research, and the highest level of mentorship for the emerging scientists and researchers by leading local and global experts.

“RSIF is strongly positioned to support the continent’s concerted goals of achieving inclusive and sustainable development,” said Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director General & CEO, icipe.

She added: “As the Regional Coordination Unit, it is important to have formal basis for collaboration with AHUs, to comprehensively and effectively bring together various facets that will ultimately contribute to the overall vision of RSIF.”

icipe’s mandate includes supporting strengthening the capacity of the AHUs and partnering institutions to manage PhD scholarships, and to conduct research and innovation in the priority sectors. In addition, icipe  facilitates the creation of partnerships with governments, universities and national and international research organisations for research training, for example through sandwich training and collaboration with centres of excellence.

Notes for Editors
The Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) is an Africa-led initiative with the objective of strengthening the science, technology and engineering capability in sub-Saharan Africa to further its socio-economic transformation. Led by African governments, PASET champions a regional approach which complements individual country efforts. It functions as a convening platform by bringing together African governments, the private sector, and new partners, such as Brazil, China, India, and Korea, to invest in Africa. Overall, PASET focuses on maximizing investment in key sectors, while increasing the capacity of universities, research centers and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) centers to generate knowledge and create skilled workforces, researchers and innovators relevant to Africa’s development challenges.

Further information:

The Regional Scholarship Innovation Fund (RSIF), the flagship initiative of PASET, aims to respond to prevailing opportunities and challenges in SSA by reinforcing doctoral training in ASET through a virtuous circle that will increase the number of PhD graduates and the quality of higher education through stronger faculty. A competitive grants scheme, RSIF has two components: (i) a general fund, which supports PhD training, research and innovation projects and (ii) a permanent or endowment fund, whose proceeds will be channeled into the general fund. Further information:

As the Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) of RSIF, the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (, has a mandate that includes overall coordination planning, monitoring and evaluation of RSIF activities. Specifically, icipe  manages the two RSIF funds; strengthens the capacity of universities and partnering institutions to train PhDs, and to facilitates research and innovation in the PASET priority sectors.Further information:

Current RSIF African Host Universities
ICTs including big data and artificial intelligence 

  • University of Gaston Berger, Senegal (Africa Center of Excellence for Mathematics, Informatics, and ICT);
  • University of Rwanda (Africa Center of Excellence in Internet of Things – ACEIoT).

Food security and agribusiness

  • University of Ghana (Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness);
  • Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania (Africa Center of Excellence for Infectious Diseases of Humans & Animals in Southern & Eastern Africa -SACIDS).

Minerals, mining and materials engineering

  • African University of Science and Technology (Pan African Materials Institute), Abuja, Nigeria.
  • Kenyatta University, Kenya (Department of Physics);
  • Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Tanzania (Africa Centre of Excellent in Water Infrastructure and Sustainable Energy Futures – WISE-Futures).

Energy including renewables

  • University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria (Africa Center of Excellence in Oilfield Chemicals Research – ACE-CEFOR);
  • University of Nairobi, Kenya (Department of Physics).

Climate change

  • University Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Côte D’ivoire (Africa Center of Excellence for Climate Change Biodiversity and Sustainable Agriculture);
  • Bayero University, Nigeria (Africa Centre of Excellence in Dryland Agriculture)