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$72M invested to accelerate research in Africa


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The DELTAS Africa Phase II call for applications is now open

Notes to the Editor: 

About the African Academy of Sciences  

The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is a non-aligned, non-political, not-for-profit pan African organisation.  The AAS’s vision is to see transformed lives on the African continent through science. Our tripartite mandate is recognising excellence, providing advisory and think tank functions and implementing key STI programmes addressing Africa’s developmental challenges through the funding, agenda-setting and programme implementation platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA platform). 

AESA Platform: The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) is an Africa-led, Africa-centred, and Africa-specific platform for developing strategies, mobilising resources, implementing science, technology and innovation (STI) programmes in Africa and evaluating the impact of these investments. AESA was created by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) with the support of Wellcome, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Department for International Development, (DFID).  The AESA platform was founded to disrupt the status quo and scientific landscape, and to ensure that Africa takes ownership and leadership in shaping the destiny of African science. Its mission is to catalyse investments, strategies and programmes that promote the brightest minds in Africa, foster scientific excellence, inspire research leadership and accelerate innovation in ways that will improve lives and shift the centre of gravity for African science to Africa. 

DELTAS Africa: The Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science in Africa (DELTAS Africa) is a programme supporting the Africa-led development of world-class 
researchers and scientific leaders in Africa. It is an AAS flagship programme implemented with the support of Wellcome and DFID. This is a long-term programme, which, over an initial period of five years (2015-2020), has supported 11 collaborative networks headed by world 
class African researchers in 54 lead and partner institutions from across the continent to invest 
in research infrastructure and offer training fellowships and mentorship. DELTAS Africa has produced high quality research with more than 400 publications and has recruited over 1,500 grantees of which, close to 50% are women. The programme has attracted emerging research leaders into the sciences from the continent and the diaspora. It has also supported institutions to strengthen their research management and administration and has created societal impact through community, public engagement projects.  

Media contacts  

Shylee Mbuchucha | +254 709 158 000 

About Wellcome   

Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research.  We are a politically and financially independent foundation. 

$72M invested to accelerate research in Africa

Nairobi, Kenya - The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is announcing a second round of calls for a multi-million-dollar research programme led and implemented by African scientists, working collaboratively to address challenges faced by people in African countries. This follows a successful first five-year programme with the second round extending its remit to new priority research areas including non-communicable diseases, public health research, social sciences and humanities, implementation science and climate change.

$72M has been invested into the second phase of the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science in Africa (DELTAS Africa) programme, a flagship programme of the AAS. The first phase of the programme was implemented with the support of Wellcome and the Department for International Development (DFID). AAS is announcing a second call with support from Wellcome with additional funding to be announced in the future. This second phase will run from 2021 to 2025.

DELTAS Africa funds collaborative networks/consortia led by Africa-based scientists to support the Africa-led development of world-class research and scientific leaders on the continent, while helping to strengthen African institutions. At the AAS, DELTAS Africa is implemented through the Academy’s funding, agenda setting and programme implementation platform, the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA platform), created in partnership with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD).

“Phase one has been a tremendous success as represented by the close to 1,500 scientists trained and the research generated. In phase two we want to amplify the impactful research and the critical mass of scientists to accelerate progress and create healthier nations,” said Dr. Alphonsus Neba, the AAS’ Deputy Director Programmes, Science Support and Systems and DELTAS Africa Programme Manager.

The World Economic Forum forecasts that Africa will be home to the world’s largest working age population of 1.1 billion by 2034. The second phase of DELTAS Africa will continue efforts to reap the population dividend by fostering intra-Africa collaboration, improving research environments and training researchers to conduct relevant, locally contextualized studies that advance our knowledge on key research and development priority gaps including: discovery, translational, implementation and operational sciences for:

  • Infectious diseases, such as malaria, HIV and tuberculosis
  • Neglected tropical diseases and ONE Health
  • Non-communicable diseases
  • Mental health and neurosciences
  • Multidisciplinary nexus of health and climate
  • Social sciences and humanities

The inclusion of social sciences and humanities is in response to the ‘state of crises in African social science institutions, reflected in diminishing resources, declining academic standards, falling outputs and limited engagement in domestic policy formulation’ as observed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA. The consequent dearth of a critical mass of social science research leaders on the continent and contextually relevant social science and humanities research outputs required for effective and efficient policy formulation and implementation on the continent has led to African governments’ dependence on renown international Think Tanks for policy information needs. The AAS is keen on supporting social science research leadership and capacity on the continent to generate home-grown, quality, policy-relevant data for Africa’s policy decision-making and to address some of Africa’s most intractable developmental challenges.

“The great progress by the AESA platform has enabled Wellcome to renew our funding to the AAS for a further five years, to support both the funding platform and the DELTAS Africa programme. AESA will set the agenda and we will support, secure in the knowledge that funding decisions are being made closer to where the work is done and where the demand for that research can ensure it is matched to the health needs of those across Africa.” said Dr. Simon Kay, Head International Operations, Wellcome.

The second phase of DELTAS Africa is an open and equal opportunity call to existing and new DELTAS Africa networks. It also seeks to balance research excellence and equity by encouraging collaborative networks with regions and countries that are traditionally considered less research intensive. Further, all applicants are encouraged to leverage co-funding, complementary or in-kind support from their institution, host country or global partners for their proposed DELTAS Africa networks.

Further information about the call:

  • The underpinning aim of DELTAS Africa II is to build a critical mass of globally-competitive African research leaders and strong research outputs that address local challenges and contexts, and of global relevance, strengthining research capacity and translating research outputs to impacts over the medium to long-term, as espoused in the DELTAS Africa Theory of Change.
    Research studies supported by DELTAS Africa II are expected to lead to the following outcomes and outputs:
    • DELTAS Africa II programmes produce high quality scientific output measured by diverse outputs including publishing, the winning of competitive grants, citations and translations of research through policy, public and community  engagement.
    • Every DELTAS Africa Programme will have a specific influence on health or social policy or practice at national/regional level; or has an output directly translated into a tangible health or social influence, wellbeing and sustainable development.
    • A cumulative total of at least 1,500 African researchers will have been trained by 2025 (this includes DELTAS AfricaI) with about 50% of DELTAS Africa trainees being female.
    • Institutions hosting a DELTAS Africa initiative commit to greater support, with options including complementary and co-funding support; creation of new posts for researchers and career pathways; infrastructure; and research culture initiatives.

  • DELTAS Africa networks must consist of a minimum of three African budget receiving partners and a recommended maximum of eight partner institutions with unlimited numbers of collaborating institutions. Partner institutions will receive a budget and carry out well-defined activities and are expected to be Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) compliant. Read more on GFGP here. Collaborating institutions supporting delivery of research objectives but not receiving budgets do not need to be GFGP compliant.
  • Applicants are strongly encouraged to develop consortia that cover African regions, countries and institutions that require investment to build scientific capacity for excellent research and also indicate how they will mainstream gender, equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • More emphasis will also be placed on community and public engagement, policy engagement and science communication to ensure that society can participate in the research process and to raise the profile and create greater awareness of the science taking place on the continent so there can be better research uptake by the public, policymakers and industry.
  • Read our blog on AAS Open Research to learn more about why the DELTAS Africa programme was established, how it works, and the new research areas that the second phase of the programme will cover: DELTAS Africa – entering a new phase of research funding. 
  • To apply, read the full details of the call here and access the application form via the AAS Ishango Grant System 
  • The deadline for preliminary applications is 28 February 2020 at 17:00 EAT
  • Please contact for any enquiries regarding the call.