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SGCI as a partnership

The SGCI was launched in March 2015 initially as a partnership of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF). SGCI-1 strengthened the abilities of Councils from 15 countries to: manage research, design and monitor research programmes based on use of robust Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) indicators, support knowledge transfer to the private sector and strengthen partnerships between SGCs and with other science system actors. This first partnership (SGCI-1) ended in September 2020, overlapping with a second 5-year phase (SGCI-2) which began in June 2018 through additional investments by the Swedish Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), IDRC and NRF. The German Research Foundation (DFG) joined in November 2019 as an Associate Funder, contributing towards specific activities. In February 2022, we welcomed additional support to the SGCI from the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation in partnership with IDRC and NRF. Science Granting Councils (SGCs) from 17 countries in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa have partnered with us in the delivery of the programme. The SGCI aims to strengthen the capacities of these SGCs to support research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to economic and social development.

SGCI Expected Outcomes


Commencing in June 2018, SGCI-2 has deepened, expanded, or redesigned the activities in five themes working with 17 councils.

SGCI Implementation

Capacity strengthening activities are implemented by a group of Collaborating Technical Agencies (CTAs) who have expertise in the Initiative’s thematic areas. The SGCI employs various capacity strengthening approaches including training, customised technical support, peer learning, joint learning forums and provision of grants for projects. Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) and Political Economy Analyses (PEAs) are support activities relevant for overall implementation of the Initiative. The SGCI draws synergies from several other activities in which the Councils are actively engaged. These include the Global Research Council (GRC), multi-funder research platforms such as the COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund (CARGF) and the O.R. Tambo Research Chairs Initiative (ORTARChI).

SGCI Governance

The Initiative Management Team (IMT) composed of staff from IDRC and NRF is responsible for programming oversight while the Executive Committee (EC) comprising representatives of the SGCI Funding Partners provides strategic oversight. Poised between the IMT and the EC, a Panel of Advisors (PoA) provides strategic advice and guidance on as-needed basis. The Councils Committee (CC) comprises the Heads of Research Councils (HORCs) who partner with the EC to share experiences on the delivery of the Initiative

SGCI Highlights

The SGCI has evolved into an effective platform for networking and facilitates strategic partnerships at different levels, including between and among Councils in the context of collaborative research and other activities, funders, technical agencies and other STI system actors. The SGCI has contributed significantly to the global stock of knowledge by commissioning a series of papers on emerging STI topics to inform the Initiative’s Annual Forums. These and several other SGCI-funded studies have led to journal articles, reports, books, manuals and guidelines for use by Councils. It is expected that capacity strengthening by the SGCI will lead sustained changes in the work of the SGCs.

SGCI Panel of Advisors

Dr John Kirkland

Chair, Diversity in Development, UK

Prof Daouda Koné

Director, Capacity Building, West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), Ghana

Prof Patricia Lar

Professor, University of Jos and Vice President, West African Research and Innovation Management Association (WARIMA), Nigeria

Prof Teboho Moja

Clinical Professor of Higher Education and Department Chair: Administration, Leadership, and Technology, New York University, USA

Prof Muna Ndulo

William Nelson Cromwell Professor of International & Comparative Law, Cornell Law School, USA

Prof Frans Swanepoel

Director: International Strategic Partnerships and Professor, Agricultural Transformation in Africa (ATA), Centre for Advancement of Scholarship, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Prof Ernest Aryeetey

Secretary-General, African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), Ghana

Prof Funmi Olonisakin

Vice President, Global Engagement and Professor of Security, Leadership & Development, King’s College London, UK

Prof Tolullah Oni

Programme Lead, Global Diet and Physical Activity Research Group, MRC Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK

SGCI Collaborating Technical Agencies