The NRF highlights the work of the OR Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative

3rd November 2023

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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The National Research Foundation (NRF) has put the spotlight on the successful meeting, this past week, of the 2023 OR Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative (ORTARChI) annual gathering. The NRF is South Africa’s research funding, research facilities and human resource development agency, and hosted the ORTARChI gathering.

The ORTARChI was established in 2018, to help expand Africa’s research and innovation capabilities. This was, and is, in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and its Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024. The aims are to both address the continent’s socioeconomic needs and to increase its competitiveness in global research.

“ORTARChI deals with the challenges Africa and its people face, which includes climate change, public health and disease control, food and water security, entrepreneurship, ecosystems, and environment,” pointed out South African Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Blade Nzimande. “It will contribute enormously to an appropriately funded African research agenda that is led by Africans and the diaspora. What is more pleasing is that this initiative is premised on ensuring that the knowledge that emerges from these research chairs will be openly shared amongst everyone in Africa and its diaspora. This supports the concept of open science, which I firmly support.”

The ORTARChI also serves to help provide career paths for junior and mid-level African researchers. It has a focus on producing strong research, innovation and human capital development outcomes. To date, ten OR Tambo African Research Chairs have been established, spread across seven countries. These are Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

The initiative is funded by the NRF, South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation, Canada’s International Development Research Centre, participating councils of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation. It is named in honour of OR Tambo in recognition of the fact that he started his career in the sciences, graduating from the then University College of Fort Hare, with a BSc degree, in 1941. He then taught science and mathematics at St Peter’s College in Johannesburg, for a decade.

(While teaching, he started studying the law, through the then correspondence-only University of South Africa, graduating and becoming an attorney in 1951. In 1952 he and Nelson Mandela set up the country’s first African-owned law firm, Mandela and Tambo. This career change was the result of the increasingly unjust sociopolitical developments in South Africa, at the time, with the onset of apartheid, from 1948 onwards.)

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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