Heather Ferguson ("Scientists from poor countries need the west's help") observes that talented researchers in Africa lack access to postgraduate training, and she argues for affordable opportunities in the west for researchers from poor countries. RISE, the Regional Initiative in Science and Education, goes one step further by providing postgraduate training at universities in sub-Saharan Africa. By combining the resources of multiple universities, RISE offers high quality PhD programs in the sciences in the researchers' home countries. Dr. Ferguson is absolutely right that African researchers are the most qualified and motivated to address Africa's problems, and we strongly support her call for mutually beneficial collaboration among researchers in the developed and developing worlds. Article here.
The African Materials Science and Engineering Network (AMSEN) project has been awarded funding of US $800,000 for a period of two and a half years by the Carnegie-IAS Regional Initiative in Science and Education. The project involves the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in collaboration with the Universities of Botswana, Namibia, Nairobi, and FUT, Akura, Nigeria. Professor L. A. Cornish, Director of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence in Strong Materials, hosted by Wits, RSA is the Academic Director for the project, and the University of Botswana is represented by Professor P. K. Jain from the Department of Physics. The secretariat is hosted by the University of Namibia. Article here.
35 of the world's 49 least developed countries are located in Africa. Nearly 70% of Africa's people live on less than US $2 a day. More than 26 million are afflicted with HIV/AIDS, a disease that claims the lives of 2.5 million each year. Nearly 1 million die each year of malaria. More than 40% do not have access to safe drinking water, and over 70% lack access to electricity. Education on the continent, while recently enjoying some signs of resurgence, continues to be inadequate, and reliable healthcare continues to be out of reach for most. Amid all of these difficulties lies a deficit that few international development agencies have acknowledged until recently: Africa simply does not have the science and technology capacity to effectively address the challenges that it confronts. To make matters worse, the continent lacks sufficient infrastructure for the knowledge creation and innovation that is so badly needed. Poverty reduction, food and energy security, adequate healthcare, adaptation to climate change, environmental degradation and sustainable development are all complex issues that demand their own set of responses if they are to be successfully addressed. Yet what all of these problems have in common is a need for a critical mass of indigenous science and technological expertise. Article here.
The situation for higher education in Africa might look bleak, but it is far from hopeless. Most institutions recognize the challenges they face and some have begun to reform their policies. For example, to help address the country's chronic skills shortage, Zambia is considering eliminating the mandatory retirement age of 55 years for faculty in the sciences. The University of Nairobi has doubled faculty salaries twice in the past 8 years. As universities and donor organizations increase efforts to bolster basic higher education, it is important to remember that science and technology will not by itself be sufficient to meet Africa's daunting challenges. Science and technology adds value to society only if it is part of a 'national innovation system' that increases the ability of a nation's institutions and infrastructure to create and commercialize products for economic and societal use. Article here.
Academic directors and other representatives of the five RISE networks gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, on October 6-7 to share information about their groups’ research, plans and goals. Participants also heard from private sector representatives from East and South Africa about entrepreneurial opportunities for academic scientists, and they explored potential partnerships with representatives from university consortia outside of Africa. Grant programs sponsored by TWAS and the International Foundation for Science (IFS) were presented, and reporting requirements were reviewed. The inaugural RISE meeting, whose goal was to set the stage for a productive, sustainable initiative, was organized and hosted by the African Academy of Sciences in cooperation with SIG.
Three East African universities have benefited from part of a USD $1.6 million grant from Carnegie Corporation in New York to two university based research networks in Africa. University of Nairobi, Uganda's Makerere University and Tanzania's Sokoine University were awarded US$800,000 through their Natural Products Network of Eastern and Central Africa (NAPRECA). NAPRECA aims to increase competence in science and technology of natural products to foster socio-economic development in sub-Saharan Africa. South African universities took the remaining US$800,000 under the South Africa Water Resource Network to boost research in water resources to improve its quality and quantity in the region. In July of this year, three other African research and training networks which specialize in areas of basic or applied sciences and engineering benefited from the grant. Article here.
A new initiative to build scientific capacity in Africa has named its first three research and training networks following a competitive selection process. "The establishment of regional scientific research centers is in direct response to demands within Africa for more and better university-based instructors," said Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation. "It is these types of investments that will facilitate Africa's accelerated development and greater and more meaningful participation in global knowledge flows." Article here.
The Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) today announced that two more networks will be supported through an additional grant from Carnegie Corporation. With an earlier grant award of U.S. $3.3 million to support the initial three networks selected in July, Carnegie Corporation has invested a total of U.S. $4.9 million in the initiative. RISE focuses on strengthening higher education in the sciences and engineering by increasing the population of skilled Ph.D. and M.Sc. scientists and engineers teaching in Africa’s universities. Press release here.
The University of Pretoria has been selected as one of the six institutions participating in the Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products (SABINA) network program to be funded through the Carnegie-IAS Regional Initiative in Science and Education. "What is of note is that the research will be centered around increasing the understanding of useful plants (such as tea crops and indigenous plants) or fungi, through the development of screening assays, study of biosynthetic pathways, gene expression, modes of action, synthetic production and genetic diversity," says Professor Jane Morris, Director of the African Centre for Gene Technologies." Article here.
African science on the rise thanks to regional initiative. Engineers, oceanographers and chemists in eight African countries will benefit from three grants of US$800,000 each from a new science and education initiative. Article here.
The 2007– 08 academic year marked SIG’s tenth as an outreach program of the Institute for Advanced Study dedicated to building science capacity in the developing world. SIG was created in 1998 to provide scientific guidance for the Millennium Science Initiative, a project inspired by the vision of James D. Wolfensohn, then Chairman of the Institute’s Board of Trustees, and developed jointly with the World Bank to support centers of scientific excellence in the developing world. Read SIG report here.
Following a competitive selection process the Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) announced that grants, each worth US $800,000 over 2.5 years, will be awarded to three networks of sub-Saharan universities. Article here.
Engineers, oceanographers and chemists in eight African countries will benefit from three grants of US $800,000 each from a new science and education initiative. Amongst the recipients is the Southern Africa Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products initiative, headed by John Saka, a chemistry professor at the University of Malawi. SABINA, whose network includes the Malawi-based Tea Research Foundation of Central Africa and South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, aims to improve food security, health and exports using Africa's biodiversity and scientific advances. The second grant was awarded to the African Materials Science and Engineering Network. The network aims to produce homegrown engineers to exploit Africa's mineral wealth. The third RISE grant was awarded to the Western Indian Ocean Regional Initiative in Marine Science and Education, which intends to use research and training to promote sustainable development and protect the coastal and marine environment. Article here.
AMSEN will focus on improving education in material sciences. SABINA will concentrate on studies related to improving food security and public health. WIO-RISE will use research and training to promote the sustainable development, utilization and protection of the coastal and marine environment. "The RISE initiative is a welcome shot in the arm for science and technology training in African universities. The timing is really spot on at this time when the continent has to adapt to a dynamic and rapidly changing world. The best coping mechanism is well-trained human capital," Egwang said. Article here.
The Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) today announced that grants, each worth US$800,000 over 2.5 years, will be awarded to three networks of sub-Saharan universities. The three awardees were selected from among 48 proposals involving 29 countries by a blue ribbon panel of international scientists. Proposals were evaluated based on scientific merit, training capacity, research activities, evidence of institutional support, added value of the network structure and potential for sustainability, including strategies for retaining faculty. Press release here.
Three networks of universities in sub-Saharan Africa have been named as the first to benefit from a new partnership initiative to build scientific capacity in Africa. The Regional Initiative in Science and Education, RISE, will provide grants - each worth $800,000 - over two and a half years to the three networks which are based in South Africa, Malawi and Tanzania but also involve universities in eight African countries. Article here.
A new initiative to build scientific capacity in Africa has named its first three research and training networks following a competitive selection process. The three networks selected include the African Materials Science and Engineering Network (AMSEN), led by Lesley Cornish of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. The network will focus on improving education in materials science to make fuller use of Africa's vast mineral deposits. The second network selected was the Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products (SABINA) which aims to improve food security, public health and exports by taking advantage of Africa's natural biodiversity through advances in natural products science. The Western Indian Ocean Regional Initiative in Marine Science and Education (WIO-RISE), led by Alfonse Dubi, was the third network to have been selected. It aims to use research and training to promote the sustainable development, utilization and protection of the coastal and marine environment. Article here.
The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) has won a Sh1bn research and training grant to build its human capacity for sciences and engineering. The Tanzanian program will use research and training to promote sustainable development, utilization and protection of the coastal and marine environment. It will have some partner universities in Mozambique and South Africa. Article here.
African Centre for Gene Technologies: ACGT Partner Institutions in Successful Bid for a Carnegie-IAS Regional Initiative in Scie
The Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products network aims to train both PhD and MSc scientists from 2009 onwards, through research in the biochemistry and chemistry of natural products, including bioinformatics as an essential tool for data management and the elucidation of structure and function. Research will focus on increasing the understanding of useful plants or fungi (such as mushrooms and tea crops) through the study of screening assays, biosynthetic pathways, gene expression, modes of action, synthetic production, and genetic diversity. Article here.
African scientific and engineering research is to receive a $2.4 million boost over the next two and a half years in the form of a grant from New York's Carnegie Corporation. The grant is meant to improve teaching in African universities and increase the number of doctorates in science. South Africa and Africa as a whole lag behind the developed world in terms of number of people graduating with doctorates, but South Africa is ahead of China and India on this ratio, the vice president of the National Research Foundation's Research and innovation Support Agency, Dr. Albert van Jaarsveld, said. South Africa's production of an average 27 doctorates per million citizens and about 1200 doctorates a year is in contrast to Europe's 100-200 people with doctorates per million. Article here.
The Regional Initiative in Science and Education has announced a first round of grants totaling $2.4 million to build three research and training networks of sub-Saharan universities. The Science Initiative at the Institute for Advanced Study is leading the RISE initiative in consultation with African partners, including the Nairobi-based African Academy of Sciences, the initiative's co-administrator. Universities in Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania will included in the networks, which will be structured to enable the sharing of resources and scholarship. Article here.
Kenyan universities are among institutions to benefit from a Sh220m grant to boost scientific capacity. Dr. Thomas Egwang, Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences in Nairobi, welcomed the initiative. Article here.
The world's least developed countries (LDCs) are also the world's least scientifically proficient. They could benefit greatly from South-South cooperation on research projects and, even more importantly, through educational and training programs. This would provide the next generation of scientists with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed. Young scientists in LDCs should take advantage of these opportunities to help their countries build a strong foundation in scientific excellence. But if they are to do that, their governments must create and sustain conditions that encourage young scientists to stay at home. Article here.
Finalists in the RISE competition were notified of their status today and asked to submit supplementary information for the final round of competition by June 2. Proposals in the final round focus on or include elements from the following areas of scientific inquiry: water, geophysics, mathematics, materials, information and communications technology, natural products, renewable energy, chemistry, biology, and marine science. The proposed networks involve nodes in fourteen different sub-Saharan countries. Three networks will be selected to receive funding totaling $800,000 each over three years. The winners will be notified by mid-July. As the program gets underway, SIG will work with RISE networks as needed to help them establish international partnerships outside of Africa.
Concept proposals for RISE networks have been received from 48 applicants and involve 29 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, from Angola to Zimbabwe. All six priority areas specified in the Request for Proposals (materials, mathematics, chemistry, ICT, energy, water) are represented, as are several other fields. Multi- and interdisciplinary networks are proposed as well. Some applicants plan to build on existing networks; others envision new partnerships.
A committee of six scientists from five countries, including three in Africa, will select twelve finalists who will be invited to submit fully developed proposals. Selection will be based on viability of the network, quality of the research and training, and other factors enumerated in the RFP, with consideration given to geographic and subject area diversity. Where the committee determines there is more than one excellent concept proposal in any given field, applicants may be given the option of submitting a joint proposal rather than competing against each other.
The opportunity exists for many developing countries to become active participants in science, technology and innovation, but to succeed they will need the support of the international scientific community. How can international collaboration in ST&I assist in solving the gap between rich and poor countries and ensuring that the most critical global issues are tackled with tools that only global ST&I can provide are daunting challenges that cannot be met unless a critical mass of well-trained scientists is present in all countries. Article here.