created by the African Academy of Sciences
(AAS) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency with US$5.5 million in initial seed funding
from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the
Wellcome Trust and the UK Department for International Development (DFID).
The AESA launch ceremony also featured the
announcements of two grant programmes intended to support Africa’s future
research leaders: the Developing
Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa Awards and Grand Challenges
Closing the Science Gap
Africa accounts for 15% of the global population and 25% of the global disease
burden, but only produces about 2% of the world’s research output. Although
more than 60% of African countries have increased their recent investments in
science, over half of African countries still invest less than 0.5% of their
GDP on research – far less than the global target of 1%.
investment in research is needed to accelerate the long-term health and
development progress required to meet the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
"Now is the moment for African
governments to take action and prioritise funding for local scientific research
and innovation – our continent's future depends on it,” said H.E. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius.
“As a scientist, entrepreneur and a president, I've seen first-hand the impact
that investments in science can have both on individual researchers and on a
African Heads of State and Government, the Nairobi-based AESA aims to support
the implementation of the African Union’s Science, Technology and Innovation
Strategy (STISA-2024) and the African Health Strategy (AHS) for 2015-2030.
of Health tasked the NEPAD Agency within the context of AHS to develop the
continent’s health research agenda at the AU Specialised Technical Committee on
Health, Population and Drug Control in April 2015.
of AESA today is a significant milestone in driving investment in health
research and lifting science across the continent,” said H.E. Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer of the NEPAD Agency.
“AESA will ensure that Africa contributes to the global pool of scientific
knowledge and technological innovations.”
to serving as a scientific think tank, AESA will manage more than US$70 million
in Africa-focused research programmes as part of its broader effort to build pan-African
scientific capacity and leadership.
capacity for science, technology and innovation is a strategic and critical
investment for Africa’s future,” said Prof
Berhanu Abegaz, Executive Director of AAS. “Today, we are proud to launch
new initiatives that will help harness Africa’s scientific potential to
contribute to the wellbeing of Africa’s people.”
Investing in local researchers
end, AESA will play a key role in the implementation of the two grant
programmes announced today, DELTAS Africa and Grand Challenges Africa.
“Africa is home to some of the most dynamic
innovators and institutions, poised to advance the continent’s research
agenda,” said Dr Thomas Kariuki, Director of AESA.
“Working in collaboration with key African and international partners, AESA
will help provide researchers with the funding, training and resources they
need to succeed and drive forward Africa’s development.”
he US$70 million
DELTAS Africa programme – initiated by the Wellcome Trust in partnership with
AESA, and including US$10 million in additional funding from DFID announced
today – supports the African-led development of world-class researchers and
research leaders across the continent.
Over an initial period of five years
(2015-2020), the programme will support collaborative teams to conduct health
research, offer training and mentorship and improve health research
Following a joint review, operations and leadership of DELTAS Africa
will be transferred to AESA early next year.
first seven DELTAS Africa awards, new grants were announced, focusing on
locally relevant research including infection and immunity, mental health and
The programmes will be led from universities and research
institutes in Ghana, Kenya, Mali, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and
involve collaboration across the continent and with international research
Wellcome Trust has a long-established track record in investing in health
research in sub-Saharan Africa. DELTAS Africa is a new approach and a long-term
commitment, which has its centre of gravity and decision making firmly based in
Africa,” said Dr Jeremy Farrar, Director
of the Wellcome Trust.
“We welcome DFID's announcement today that it will
provide additional funding to DELTAS Africa. The vision is to support the new
generation of African research leaders. Individuals and teams from across the
continent will play a leading role in shaping and driving world class, locally
driven and relevant health research that improves human health.”
Challenges family of grant initiatives seeks to engage innovators from around
the world to solve the most pressing challenges in global health and
development. Today, that family has grown with the announcement of Grand
Led by AAS through the AESA platform, Grand Challenges
Africa will build on the success of local Grand Challenges programmes in India,
Brazil and South Africa, as well as the strong base of African Grand Challenges
grantees funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges
Canada and USAID.
Grand Challenges Africa will focus on supporting the over 400 existing Grand
Challenges grantees in Africa, including by hosting a 2016 convening of African
grantees. The programme will ultimately develop, launch and manage
Africa-specific Grand Challenges targeted to the development challenges
preventing African countries from reaching the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Grand Challenges Africa builds on over a decade of
Grand Challenges investment in local innovators, including hundreds of Grand
Challenges grants awarded to innovators across Africa,” said Trevor Mundel,
President of Global Health at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“We’re excited to work with AESA to support African innovators in finding transformative
solutions to major health and development challenges.”Yesterday,
Grand Challenges Explorations launched four new calls for proposals focused on
antimicrobial resistance, newborn and infant gut health, digital financial
services and global health priority areas.
Initial grants will be for US$100,000 and successful
projects will be eligible to receive a follow-on grant of up to US$1million. For more information or to submit a
two-page application, visit www.grandchallenges.org.
The Way Forward
long term, and through initiatives like Grand Challenges Africa and DELTAS,
AESA and its partners hope to translate declarations of support from African
governments into concrete funding and programmatic commitments, and help drive
Africa’s R&D agenda, while building scientific capacity across the
continent to help countries reach their health and development goals.
THOUGHT LEADERS COMMENT
Dr. Christian Turner, British High Commissioner
UK support for AESA, the DELTAS programme and the support we will announce
tomorrow to Africa's research councils, underlines the UK's commitment to be a
strong partner to Africa on science. These programmes will help to ensure that
science for Africa is led by Africa's researchers, from Africa.”
Peter Singer, CEO, Grand Challenges Canada
closely with local governments and scientists, AESA and Grand Challenges Africa
will be crucial partners in helping these countries develop and scale the
innovations needed to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Mei Chang, Executive Director, Global Development Lab,
US Agency for International Development
"Local scientists and
innovators, coupled with a supportive local ecosystem that advances research
and entrepreneurship, are essential to meet Africa's development goals. I'm
excited to have AESA and Grand Challenges Africa join the Grand Challenges
family, and look forward to working together to help communities employ
science, technology, and innovation to lift themselves out of poverty."
Director General, National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania; Grand
Challenges Explorations Grantee
“I know from personal experience the impact the
Grand Challenges program can have on local researchers in Africa. At my own
institution, I have seen the power of Grand Challenges in driving innovation.
The concept of ‘the power is in the idea’ has resonated with young Tanzanian
scientists making them strive to look for innovative solutions to health challenges.
The newly-formed Grand Challenges Africa program will provide hundreds of
others like me –and particularly those younger than me – with the opportunity
to turn their ideas into the game-changing health and development solutions