By Iminza Keboge
Published May 10, 2016
A higher education programme to equip Africa with the critical mass of scientific leaders shall start in September 2016.
Named after Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of Mauritius, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) scholarship begins with “10 full PhD research grants for Mauritian researchers (or African researchers studying in Mauritius).” It focuses on Africans working in “water, energy, agribusiness, health and blue sky research” sectors.
“The Programme is aiming to expand across Africa to award 10,000 PhD Scholarships in the coming decade,” says Planet Earth Institute (PEI) which, with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and African Academy of Sciences (AAS), are managing the project. “The PEI and the BMGF hope that the areas of focus will help to equip Africa with the critical mass of scientific leaders it needs to become a continent of knowledge-based, sustainable economies.”
PEI says “The grants awarded to the initial ten researchers will cover the entire duration of the PhD, and will include both the full cost of academic and research time required at host universities, as well as a generous living expenses stipend.”
Participants shall study at both African and British universities. While African universities participating in the programme include Kenya’s International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and South Africa’s University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University and the Sir Magdi Yacoub Research Network, their UK counterparts are University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of Greenwich, University of Edinburgh, University of Glasgow, Middlesex University and Newcastle University.
Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, after whom the scholarship is named, says, “This PhD Programme is about offering a new and exciting opportunity for Mauritian researchers, and also to take a further step toward Africa taking its rightful place as a leader in global science race. If Mauritius is to become a knowledge-based economy and Africa a knowledge-based continent, we must invest in equipping our people with the skills they need to thrive. They must be problem solvers; job creators; innovators.This programme, starting with Mauritius as a laboratory before its roll out across Africa, will support our talented young people to become entrepreneurs and to support the development of research critical to the future of Africa.”
PEI, that says it is “working for the scientific independence of Africa”, has its head office in London, UK and branches in Port Louis, Mauritius and Luanda, Angola.