Science Africa: A collaborative engagement between the German Research Foundation and the Science Granting Councils Initiative
During 25-29 April 2016, the German Research Foundation (DFG) hosted representatives of 12 African Science Granting Councils in Königswinter, Germany for a collaborative engagement. This marks the first activity in close cooperation with the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) where an opportunity is leveraged with research funding agencies outside the African continent for collaborative learning on the different structures of research funding organisations, and their research management processes.
African Science Granting Councils representing Cote d’Ivoire, Malawi, Namibia, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Rwanda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Senegal, Cameroon, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa and Zimbabwe had the opportunity to share experiences on their organisational structures and mandates, research proposal management, review processes, statistics and evaluation, and research agenda setting. At the same time, research funding agencies representing Germany, Canada, France, Japan, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European research Council shared experiences on the same topics in addition to their strategies in cooperating with African counterparts.
Reflecting on the importance of this interaction, Dr Alfred Sumani, Executive Secretary of the National Science and Technology, Zambia stated: ‘this interaction has provided us with an opportunity to learn about best practice in research management, and we have realised how many shared challenges and opportunities we have as African science granting councils.’
On the side-lines of this meeting, the African region has also elected South Africa (NRF) to represent the region on the Governing Council of the Global Research Council (GRC) for the next 3 years commencing in May 2016. This will be an opportunity to further align the activities of the GRC with the SGCI, and most importantly, to add the voice of African funding agencies in the strategic decision making processes of the GRC. The NRF has been active in the GRC since its establishment in 2011, co-hosting Africa regional consultative meetings since 2014, and already serves on its Executive Support Group. Africa will be represented on the GRC Governing Council by the CEO of the NRF.
The SGCI is 5-year initiative, which aims to support research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to economic and social development in Africa, and focuses on publicly funded science granting councils in 16 African countries. The initiative is jointly funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), and the NRF.