African Research and Training Networks Receive Capacity Building Grants

The Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) has announced a first round of grants totaling $2.4 million to build three research and training networks of sub-Saharan universities.

RISE, which receives support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is designed to strengthen 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. Its grantmaking will support programs in basic or applied sciences and engineering, with the exception of agriculture and health sciences, which are already relatively well funded through existing programs.

The Science Initiative Group 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 be included in the networks, which will be structured to enable the sharing of resources and scholarship. The African Materials Science and Engineering Network in South Africa will work to improve education in materials science, while the Southern African Biochemistry and Informatics for Natural Products, based at the University of Malawi, is designed to improve food security, public health, and exports through advances in natural products science. The Western Indian Ocean Regional Initiative in Marine Science and Education in Tanzania will use research and training to promote sustainable development, and utilization and protection of the coastal and marine environment.

"The establishment of regional scientific research centers is in direct response to demands within Africa for more and better university-based instructors," said Carnegie Corporation president Vartan Gregorian. "It is these types of investments that will facilitate Africa's accelerated development and greater and more meaningful participation in global knowledge flows."