Stellenbosch University’s African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Energy is to receive funding of R12-million over two years from the UK. The money is being provided by Britain’s science, technology and innovation funding agency, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), under a three-year partnership agreement with ARUA.
ARUA was founded in 2015 and is composed of 16 African universities, in nine countries, all with a strong commitment to research. The countries concerned are Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. Three of the universities are in Nigeria and six are in South Africa, with one member university in each of the other countries. The Stellenbosch-hosted CoE for Energy is one of 13 ARUA CoEs spread across the continent.
The partnership between UKRI and ARUA grew out of Britain’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), aimed at funding joint research between scientists in the developing world and in the UK. The GCRF totals £1.5-billion and is focused on supporting research into issues that are globally relevant, including disease, food insecurity, flooding and famine caused by climate change, poverty, rapid urbanisation and the sustainability of natural resources.
The funding granted to Stellenbosch is for capacity building, to support the CoE in Energy. This will include strengthening the capabilities of young African researchers by means of structured courses at the university’s African Doctoral Academy. The rest of the money will be used to create opportunities for collaborative research projects to address actual problems.
“The ARUA CoE in Energy at Stellenbosch University is very pleased to receive this grant,” said Stellenbosch University Process Engineering Department and ARUA CoE in Energy director Dr Neill Goosen. “It will allow the Centre to identify and engage talented early career African academics, and help to establish a multidisciplinary African community of collaborators around renewable energy issues. As Africa develops and requires increasing amounts of energy to power its economies and societies, renewable energy will become ever more important. Building a strong community of researchers in the field and encouraging collaboration between disciplines will ensure that Africa can create the new knowledge required to build its renewable energy sector.”
“I would love to see a world where discussions about global health are influenced by work done in Africa, where discussions about climate change are influenced by African researchers and where African governments and the international academic community listen to African researchers, ARUA’s partnership with UKRI and the new research as part of this, is an important stepping stone to realising this vision,” affirmed ARUA secretary general Professor Ernest Aryeetey.
“To sustainably address global challenges, we need a genuinely global response and that means forging stronger partnerships, that are fair, equitable and fully reciprocal between researchers in the northern and southern hemispheres,” highlighted UKRI ‘international champion’ Professor Andrew Thompson. “This exciting research programme with ARUA is supporting research that transcends national boundaries and will produce different ways of thinking about challenges and different solutions to tackling them.”