Two International Partner Institutions join Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF)

Sakina Kahindi
10 Sep 2021 0

Two more International Institutions have  joined the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) as International Partner Institutions (IPIs), making it five IPIs since the start of 2021 and bringing the new over total to 19 .

RSIF IPIs are advanced universities, research institutes/centers or companies (public or private) that are willing and competent to offer research internship opportunities for RSIF PhD Scholars from Africa studying at universities in Africa Host Universities (AHUs). Advanced/international research centers and civil society partners and private sector firms in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and universities in South Africa, may also qualify as IPIs. Launched in 2017, RSIF is the flagship program for the Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET), an African-led initiative which aims to build competencies and skills to support growth of key economic sectors that support Africa’s socio-economic transformation spanning upper-secondary level, technical, vocational education and training (TVET), postgraduate education and postdoctoral research and mentorship.

RSIF 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 two new partner institutions will host PhD students in the competitive call expected to open soon.

University of Lisbon  (ULisboa), the largest, most prestigious university in Portugal and one of Europe’s leading universities, is a public research university located in Lisbon. ULisboa brings together various areas of knowledge and has a privileged position for facilitating the contemporary evolution of science, technology, arts and humanities. The quality of teaching, research, innovation and culture of ULisboa is attracting an ever-increasing amount of talent from around the world.

University of Michigan (U-M) is the oldest, public comprehensive research university in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a mission to serve the people of the State of Michigan and the world through pre-eminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art and academic values and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future. U-M has ranked first among public universities in the United States of America in terms of research expenditures at least since 2010 and has strength in research and training in all the PASET focus areas. The African Studies Center (ASC) at U-M was founded in 2008 to serve as the conduit for U-M’s Africa focused research, teaching, partnerships and programming.

The other IPIs in the program include the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), Ghent University, The higher national school of mines of Albi-Carmaux (Institut Mines-Télécom (IMT), Institutes of Green-bio Science & Technology – Seoul National University (GBST-SNU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER), Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology (KRICT), Maastricht University (MU), Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), Telecom SudParis, The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), The Seoul National University Global Research & Development and Business Center (GRC), University of Greenwich, University of Pretoria (UP), Virginia Tech and Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)

This increase in the number of partner institutions is a big step towards achieving one of the program’s objectives, which is to strengthen the institutional capacity for quality and sustainable doctoral training, research and innovation in transformative technologies in sub-Saharan Africa 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 IPIs and strengthen research capacity regionwide by prioritizing the scholarships to African faculty that lack PhD training.

The number of RSIF scholars is set to triple from that planned in the original pilot project to reach close to 300 by early 2022.  Through PASET-RSIF the cost of PhD training is significantly lowered, while also reducing inbreeding in national universities since PhD training will be done in other African universities and international partner institutions. By working closely with academic institutions, relevant investors and governments and other stakeholders within sub-Saharan Africa; specialized knowledge will be integrated in the region and transferred to the future generation. Recent partnerships take into account the language diversity in the growing body of RSIF doctoral students, as more governments in Francophone Western Africa and Lusophone Southern Africa have contributed to RSIF.

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.