AfOx in collaboration with
partners across the UK and Africa has received a Wellcome Institutional
Strategic Support Fund to establish an Africa Health Innovation Platform.
Africa’s population is expected
to double by 2050 and will account for more than half of global population
growth. Africa is also the youngest continent in the world, with a median age
of most African countries under 20 years. There is an explosion of talent in
innovation, entrepreneurship, new ideas and technology-led solutions across the
The Africa Health Innovation
Platform will be a multi-disciplinary platform to support African innovators to
develop new solutions to Africa’s health challenges. The Platform will bring
together researchers, entrepreneurs, investors, technologists, policymakers,
and change leaders to develop new approaches towards prevention, early
detection and treatment of diseases.
The Africa Health Innovation
Platform will initially run for two years. Each year 50 outstanding emerging
African innovators proposing new solutions for health challenges will be competitively
selected. The candidates will receive bespoke interactive on-line training and
an opportunity to use virtual workrooms to further work on their ideas.
Out of the 50 candidates, a
number of candidates with the top outstanding projects will be awarded AfOx
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fellowships for face-to-face training,
mentorship and technical collaborative support in Oxford.
AfOx is proud to have supported a documentary series titled ‘Right to a Better World’ that was produced in collaboration with WHO and HRP, UN Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Oxford Human Rights Hub (OxHRH). The documentary explores how tactics developed by the human rights movement can be used to achieve sexual and reproductive health rights, and drive meaningful progress towards the fulfillment of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In each episode across the series, experts in health and human rights share their professional struggles and successes working on the frontline of communities worldwide. As advocates and activists, they represent a broad range of professional fields, ages, levels and backgrounds.
The episodes can be watched at home, in groups and in classroom settings. Viewers are encouraged to learn from the experiences shared, and consider how tactics could be adapted to their own contexts.
“This powerful series creates a unique synergy between academic and practical human rights approaches, vividly demonstrating the key role human rights can play when advocating for sexual and reproductive health rights in political, legal, and international forums.”
-Professor Sandra Fredman, Director of the Oxford Human Rights Hub
Right to a better world videos
Comprehensive sexuality education (episode 1 of 4)
Building support and understanding of every young person’s right to education, health and well-being, in an inclusive and gender equal society.
Contraception (episode 2 of 4)
Ensuring each woman’s and adolescent’s right to make decisions about their reproductive health and future.
Maternal mortality and morbidity (episode 3 of 4)
Ensuring every woman’s and adolescent’s right to not only survive pregnancy and childbirth, but have a positive experience of this profound life event.
Violence against women (episode 4 of 4)
Building a world in which women and girls are free from all forms of violence and discrimination.
Read more about the project on the WHO website here: https://www.who.int/news/item/18-11-2020-your-right-to-a-better-world
On 29 October 2020, the Africa Oxford Initiative hosted a Graduate Admissions Q&A. A wonderful panel made of current students, graduate admissions officers and professors answered questions that were sent to us from prospective applicants from across the African continent.
These are some of the top tips that emerged from the discussion.
1. Start your application early
Applications for admission into the University of Oxford open in September and, for most courses, close by January. Different courses may have different application requirements – so make sure that you’re aware of everything that you need to submit as part of your application.
An important part of every application to any course are the references. Starting your application early allows your referees to have enough time to write and submit your reference letter as well.
And while they are doing that, you can reflect on as well as edit and refine other components of the application like your personal statement, academic writing samples or research proposal.
2. You need excellent grades to be eligible. But you need to demonstrate more if you want to be a competitive applicant.
Your CV and your personal statement are an opportunity for you to demonstrate your expertise and to show how passionate you are about the subject. However, avoid using generic and stock phrases like “I have wanted to do this since I was 3 years old”. Instead, highlight the times when you have volunteered or participated in extracurricular activities to show that you are really passionate about the subject.
Make sure to include any practical experience and publications (including blogs and op-eds) that you may have written as well. Your personal statement must be unique to you. So, think carefully about your reasons for applying and what you hope to gain.
For prospective DPhil applicants, you can contact your potential supervisor before submitting the application. This first email is your chance to impress. Therefore, ensure that it is targeted, explains why you think that this particular academic is best suited to supervise you and describes your research interests well. But more importantly, the research proposal is a chance to show that you are capable of formulating a research plan. Give yourself enough time to do it properly.
3.Put your academic achievements into context
The people who are considering your application might not be familiar with the grading structures and systems of your university. Therefore, say something in your statement about the grading structure, the courses you took and where you ranked in the class as well as any prizes you might have won to put the grades on your transcripts into context.
Some universities may not award a lot of first class passes so someone who graduates with a strong upper second-class pass might be at the top of their class. If there is any material on the back of your transcript that explains how grading works in your university, make sure to include that in your application as well.
4. Begin your search for funding as early as you can
The majority of the funding in the University is automatic eligibility. This means that once you submit your application, you will automatically be considered for these scholarships – you don’t have to submit a separate application for these.
There are other scholarships that you do need to apply for separately. And you can find these by using the University’s funding search tool. Some scholarships have very early deadlines and may even close before the end of the University’s admissions cycle.
Do your research, take note of all the scholarships that you’re eligible for and prepare to make a strong application before the deadline.
It’s worth taking some time to think about the college that you want to be in. Although colleges have a lot in common, there is some variation in things like where you can live, whether the college has funds available for fieldwork or has a gym onsite. Think about what you need or want as part of your Oxford experience and pick the college that would work best for you.
And mostly importantly, do not hold yourself back from applying! As our panellist Tatenda Magestsi (Zimbabwe, Masters in Public Policy & MSc African Studies alumni) said:
“Do not self-disqualify. By not applying you are self-disqualifying. Just go for it and put your best into it.”
Find out more about the collegiate system and more details about the application process by watching the full Q&A on our YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/uzJqLzoFJQo
As the threat of a COVID-19 pandemic emerged earlier this year, many felt a sense of apprehension about what would happen when it reached Africa. Concerns over the combination of overstretched and underfunded health systems and the existing load of infectious and non-infectious diseases often led to it being talked about in apocalyptic terms.
However, it has not turned out quite that way. On September 29th, the world passed the one million reported deaths mark (the true figure will of course be higher). On the same day, the count for Africa was a cumulative total of 35,954.
Africa accounts for 17% of the global population but only 3.5% of the reported global COVID-19 deaths. All deaths are important, we should not discount apparently low numbers, and of course data collected over such a wide range of countries will be of variable quality, but the gap between predictions and what has actually happened is staggering. There has been much discussion on what accounts for this.
As leads of the COVID-19 team in the African Academy of Sciences, we have followed the unfolding events and various explanations put forward. The emerging picture is that in many African countries, transmission has been higher but severity and mortality much lower than originally predicted based on experience in China and Europe.
We argue that Africa’s much younger population explains a very large part of the apparent difference. Some of the remaining gap is probably due to under reporting of events but there are a number of other plausible explanations. These range from climatic differences, pre-existing immunity, genetic factors and behavioural differences.
Given the enormous variability in conditions across a continent – with 55 member states – the exact contribution of any one factor in a particular environment is likely to vary. But the bottom line is that what appeared at first to be a mystery looks less puzzling as more and more research evidence emerges.
The importance of age
The most obvious factor for the low death rates is the population age structure. Across multiple countries the risk of dying of COVID-19 for those aged 80 years or more is around a hundred times that of people in their twenties.
This can best be appreciated with a specific example. As of September 30th, the UK had reported 41,980 COVID-19 specific deaths while Kenya, by contrast, had reported 691. The population of the UK is around 66 million with a median age of 40 compared with Kenya’s population of 51 million with a median age of 20 years.
Corrected for population size the death toll in Kenya would have been expected to be around 32,000. However if one also corrects for population structure (assumes that the age specific death rates in the UK apply to the population structure of Kenya), we would expect around 5,000 deaths. There is still a big difference between 700 and 5,000; what might account for the remaining gap?
Other possible contributors
One possibility is the failure to identify and record deaths.
Kenya, as with most countries, initially had little testing capacity and specific death registration is challenging. However, Kenya quickly built up its testing capacity and the extra attention to finding deaths makes it unlikely that a gap of this size can be fully accounted for by missing information.
There has been no shortage of ideas for other factors that may be contributing.
A recent large multi-country study in Europe reported significant declines in mortality related to higher temperature and humidity. The authors hypothesised that this may be because the mechanisms by which our respiratory tracts clear virus work better in warmer more humid conditions. This means that people may be getting less virus particles into their system.
It should be noted however that a systematic review of global data – while confirming that warm and wet climates seemed to reduce the spread of COVID-19 – indicated that these variables alone could not explain most of the variability in disease transmission. It’s important to remember that there’s considerable weather variability throughout Africa. Not all climates are warm or wet and, if they are, they may not stay that way throughout the year.
Other suggestions include the possibility of pre-existing protective immune responses due either to previous exposure to other pathogens or to BCG vaccination, a vaccine against tuberculosis provided at birth in most African countries. A large analysis – which involved 55 countries, representing 63% of the world’s population – showed significant correlations between increasing BCG coverage at a young age and better outcomes of COVID-19.
Genetic factors may also be important. A recently described haplotype (group of genes) associated with increased risk of severity and present in 30% of south Asian genomes and 8% of Europeans is almost absent in Africa.
The role of these and other factors – such as potential differences in social structures or mobility – are subject to ongoing investigation.
More effective response
An important possibility is that public health response of African countries, prepared by previous experiences (such as outbreaks or epidemics) was simply more effective in limiting transmission than in other parts of the world.
However, in Kenya it’s estimated that the epidemic actually peaked in July with around 40% of the population in urban areas having been infected. A similar picture is emerging in other countries. This implies that measures put in place had little effect on viral transmission per se, though it does raise the possibility that herd immunity is now playing a role in limiting further transmission.
At the same time there is another important possibility: the idea that viral load (the number of virus particles transmitted to a person) is a key determinant of severity. It has been suggested that masks reduce viral load and that their widespread wearing may limit the chances of developing severe disease. While WHO recommends mask wearing, uptake has been variable and has been lower in many European countries, compared with many parts of Africa.
So is Africa in the clear? Well, obviously not. There is still plenty of virus around and we do not know what may happen as the interaction between the virus and humans evolves.
However, one thing that does seem clear is that the secondary effects of the pandemic will be Africa’s real COVID-19 challenge. These stem from the severe interruptions of social and economic activities as well as the potentially devastating effects of reduced delivery of services which protect millions of people, including routine vaccination as well as malaria, TB and HIV control programmes.
Major implications of the emerging picture include the need to re-evaluate African COVID-19 research agendas. While many of the priorities originally identified may still hold, their relative importance is likely to have changed. The key point is to deal with the problems as they are now rather than as they were imagined to be six months ago.
The same thing applies for public health policy. Of course, basic measures such as hand washing remain essential (regardless of COVID-19) and wearing masks should be continued while there is any level of COVID-19 transmission. However, other measures with broader effects on society, especially restrictions on educational and economic activity, should be under continuous review.
A key point now is to increase surveillance and ensure that flexible responses are driven by high quality real time data.
Africa Oxford Initiativeis working in partnership with Standard Bank Chairman’s Scholarship and Oppenheimer Fund to support the award of six graduate scholarships for the 2020-2021academic year.This includes the inaugural AfOx Graduate Scholarship, launched to further strengthen opportunities available to African graduate applicants.
The first recipient of the AfOx Graduate Scholarship is Olugbenga Adeoba, who will study MSc Refugee and Forced Migration Studies at the University of Oxford during the 2020-2021 academic year.
The scholarshipsaim to provide outstanding African graduates the opportunity to undertake a fully funded Masters degree at the University of Oxford. Going beyond providing course fees and living costs to the scholars, the scholarships will deliver tailor-made training programmes, networking opportunities and support students before, during and following their time at Oxford.
The 6 scholars were selected following a rigorous, multi-stage review and interview process. In addition to academic merit, the 6 chosen scholars demonstrated strongconvictions in global citizenship, leadership capacity and commitment to Africa’s development. The University of Oxford, as a leading global academic training ground, will provide the knowledge, training, and support to translate their experiences and passion into practical ways of addressing some of the most pressing challenges in Africa.
Olugbenga Adeoba, Nigeria I MSc Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, College I AfOx Graduate Scholar
Olugbenga Adeoba recently graduated from theMaster of Fine Arts in Creative Writing programme at the University of Iowa. Olugbenga is an award-winning poet, who’s poems address topics such asmigration, slavery, war and natural disasters. During his two-year course at the University of Iowa, Olugbenga hostedseveral poetry workshops for refugees and asylum seekers tohelp them express their experience through creative writing. He adopted a participatory-observatory approach to study the experience of asylum seekers and resettled refugees in the Iowa City area.At Oxford, Olugbega intends to examine the impact of displacement on young people in North-eastern Nigeria and the barriers it creates to reach Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4)– ensuring inclusive and equitable education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Zimpande Kawanu, South Africa I MSt World Literatures in English, University College I Oppenheimer Scholar
In 2020 Zimpande Kawanu graduated with a Master of Studies in Creative Writing from the University of Cape Town. For two years, Zimpande worked as a Research Assistant to the President of the International Labour and Employment Relations Association and contributed to labour reform recommendations for Zambia’s informal economy. During his course at Oxford, Zimpande plans to study the experiences of undocumented migrant labourers working in construction in South Africa. He will explore the ways in which historical forces, such as the transition period from apartheid to democracy and the deregulation of strict border controls shaped the unskilled labour market.
Nina Braude, South Africa I Bachelor of Civil Law, Wadham College I SBAC Scholar
As a litigation attorney based in Johannesburg, Nina Braude has advised international banks on issues around human rights, environmental law, corruption and bribery. Prior to pursuing a career in law, Nina worked as a History and English teacher atsecondary schools in Cape Town. In addition to her teaching duties, Nina supported students in developing democratic governance anddecision-making processes in their school. Afurther move from teaching to working on educational policies, impressed upon Nina the importance of legal tools in converting ideas of justice and democracy into systems which enable thoseideas to be made tangible. At Oxford, Nina aims to deepen her knowledge of law and reflect on her work so far through the theoretical lens offered by the BCL.
Daniel Kandie, Kenya I MSc Social Data Science, Wadham College I SBAC Scholar
A passion for economics and technology combined with a curiosity about the power of big data led Daniel to apply for the Master of Social Data Science at Oxford. He recently completed an undergraduate degree at the University of British Columbia andaims to use his time in Oxford to strengthen his knowledge of theories and concepts insocial data science. Upon completion, Daniel plans to work in the Kenyan public sector to develop data driven public policies to improve economic growth in the country. Ultimately, he hopes to apply his research to the question- how can data be used to solve the most challenging problems in Kenya, East Africa and Africa as a whole?
Samson Itodo, Nigeria I Masters in Public Policy, Wadham College I SBAC Scholar
Samson Itodo is a lawyer andFounder of Yiaga Africa, anNGOwhose mission is topromote democracyin Africa. For the last 12 years, Samson has worked to facilitate the inclusion of young people in politics and promote electoral integrity. One of his biggest achievements has been the successful #NotTooYoungToRun campaign to reduce the age at which you can run for elective office in Nigeria. The NotTooYoungToRun campaignhasbeenadopted by the United Nations, African Union and Economic Community for the West Africa States. Samson is interested in the impact of social movements on public policy andtheir role in qualifying or refining public policy. He aspires to become Chairperson of Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission.
Nkechi Eze, Nigeria, Masters Business Administration, Wadham College, SBAC Scholar
Nkechi is the Founder and CEO of AsoEbiBella– Nigeria’s most followed fashionmedia company. Her interest in media and its ability to connect people led Nkechi to start her own companypromotingfemale led SMEs in Nigeria. In addition to running her business, Nkechi has led several campaigns to empower Nigerian based designers and collect clothing donations for indigent communities.Through the MBA programme at the Said Business School,Nkechi intends to strengthen her financial skills and business acumen in order to expand her business into manufacturing Africanfabrics for the local and global market.
AfOx Visiting Fellow Prof Caesar Atuire has been appointed as one of 20 experts selected from around the world to be a member of the WHO ACT Accelerator Ethics Working Group on Access to COVID-19 Tools .
The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed inequalities and vulnerabilities among and within nations. The WHO Ethics Working Group will examine the criteria for vaccine acquisition and distribution between nations and offer recommendations for priority setting of vaccination programmes within member countries.
Dr. Caesar Atuire, a Ghanaian philosopher was awarded an AfOx Visiting Fellowship hosted at All Souls College in 2018. Following his successful Fellowship, he was invited back as an All Souls Visiting Fellow to spend 6 months in Oxford in 2020.
Caesar Atuire started studying for a degree in Engineering in 1986. During this period, Caesar realised that he was more interested in the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’. For him, philosophy became a way to understand the why of things and the reason behind them.
Caesar is now a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Philosophy and Classics at the University of Ghana, where he teaches students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. His research interests include bioethics, politics of development in Africa and personhood in philosophy.
Talking about why he chose to teach and study philosophy, Caesar explains
“It is the power of an idea. It excites me to see how ideas evolve from being concepts in our head, to action, which then transform lives. Philosophy gives us the capacity to think critically and find organic and constructive solutions to problems at a theoretical level and then assimilate thought to perception.”
In 2018, Caesar visited Oxford for 6 weeks as an AfOx Visiting Fellow. He worked in collaboration with colleagues in the Department of Psychiatry and the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities to study attitudes that inform the way people perceive mental health in West Africa.
During the course of the Fellowship Caesar created a culturally attuned framework of bioethical concepts to address complex challenges facing the understanding and treatment of people with mental disorders in Ghana.
Caesar is particularly passionate about exploring contextbased solutions to problems and translating his research into results.
“We cannot always import solutions from the western world. We need to go back into African philosophy. However, the idea of going back to African philosophy is not about closing in on ourselves but offering an African voice to the global discourse.”
After completing the AfOx Fellowship in 2018, he published a book titled ‘Bioethics in Africa’. The book offers diverse theoretical and practical perspectives on bioethical challenges that are common in sub-Saharan Africa. In an effort to translate his ideas to action, he is now working on a programme to train healthcare workers in bioethics.
Caesar also extends his principal of finding context-based solutions to Amicus Onlus, a NGO that he founded in the year 2003. Amicus Onlus engages with communities across Ghana to conduct needs analysis to identify solutions to problems faced by young people. Amicus Onlus engages with about 30,000 people across Ghana every year, working on projects such as skill training for youth, vocation training for single mothers and medical outreach programmes.
“Africa is a continent of young people. If we are able to empower these young persons, then we can look forward to a bright future. The empowerment I would like to contribute is intellectual, cultural and moral- hence my commitment to academic life.
Naima Nasir graduated from the MSc International Health and Tropical Medicine in 2019. In this blog, Naima shares her experience of adjusting to Oxford’s academic style of writing.
It was only about a week after settling into my MSc course at Oxford, that I started to hear whispers about ‘the Oxford style’ academic essay. I waved it off as one of the many things in Oxford that initially seem steeped in mystery and grandeur. As the days rolled by and the task of writing an essay for my course drew nearer, I started to pay attention to what was been said about it.
I heard words
like ‘challenging’, ‘difficult’, ‘cerebral’, ‘critical’ that left me wondering
if I knew how to write any kind of essay at all. After talking with other graduate
students and watching many YouTube videos, I still was not clear on what (if
anything) made essay writing at Oxford different.
In my quest to find out more about the Oxford essay writing style, I came across the AfOx essay-writing workshop. The 2-hour workshop cleared the fog and provided the guidance I needed. African graduate alumni and faculty members led the workshop in an informal yet engaging manner. Think lots of snacks, great conversations, and much laughter. We discussed how to structure an essay, sharing rich examples from various disciplines, and practised constructing paragraphs. I left the workshop with great tips, which I applied to my essays throughout my course. It was also an opportunity to meet other African graduates from different courses, exchange notes and encourage each other.
year, I got the opportunity to share these tips and experiences as one of the
facilitators of the workshop. It felt fulfilling to help other students address
questions like the ones I had, providing a safe space for students to ask the
questions and get the guidance they need.
Oxford can seem quite daunting for many new students and having a platform to
share tips and gain the skills needed to excel is important. Strengthening our
writing skills will help amplify our messages and ultimately our influence. It
is my hope that AfOx will continue to expand the essay writing workshops to
reach many more students across Oxford and beyond.
Dr Katrina Charles, Associate Professor and Senior Research Fellow in the Oxford University School of Geography and the Environment, presented at the third AfOx digital insaka. Katrina’s work investigates water quality across Ethiopia, Kenya and Bangladesh. In this insaka, she speaks about why innovation around water quality monitoring and testing is critical.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads throughout the world, various enduring inequalities have been exposed. To help slow the spread of the virus, experts have strongly encouraged people to maintain frequent hand hygiene. As a result, inequalities around access to clean water have been brought into sharp focus. Over the last two decades, there has been significant progress in improving access to basic water supplies across Sub-Saharan Africa. However, there has been very little change in access to safe drinking water. Katrina’s talk highlights the opportunities for innovation to advance safe drinking water in Africa.
While access to basic water has been increasing in Sub-Saharan Africa…
…there has been little change in access to safe water.
Research on water often focuses on innovations in drinking water treatment, but there is limited availability of data on safe drinking water. Without access to data on water quality, there is a limited market for the treatment technology. Innovations in monitoring water quality and testing will allow water users to identify the most relevant method to treat contaminated water.
According to Katrina, there are two challenges that open up opportunities for innovation in this space:
1.Technology that is used to measure risk
Discovered in the 1880s, testing for and measuring E. coli has become the preferred indicator for measuring drinking water quality. However, Katrina explains that the E. coli test is not always an efficient indicator of water quality and limits innovation for other water quality tests.
2.The approach that is used to set up water quality monitoring programmes
The data that is currently available
on water testing is too limited and erratic to help households and community
water managers make decisions about how to improve water quality. And due to a
lack of formal, accredited labs in smaller towns and villages, the data is not
made available in a timely manner.
Katrina highlighted some examples of innovation which respond to these challenges:
1.Giving communities E. coli test kits to use in their households means that people no longer have to wait for results to come from the labs in the major cities
2.Using a probe to measure bacterial activity gives instant results about water quality. This equips household and water managers with information that they need to manage the risk from consuming the water.
3.Deploying more dedicated field labs where local teams go out regularly and discuss the water quality issues with communities.
On August 6, Director of the African Academy of Sciences, Prof Tom Kariuki presented the at third AfOx digital insaka. Tom’s talk highlighted how research is being prioritised in Africa to inspire leadership, mobilise funding and facilitate equitable collaborations.
At independence, sixty years ago, many African researchers and governments focused on overcoming three challenges: illiteracy, diseases, and poverty. Today, these challenges are the driving force behind scientific and technological innovations on the continent.
Established 35 years ago, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) is a pan African not-for-profit organisation whose vision is to see transformed lives on the African continent through science. In 2015, AAS launched a new platform- the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) to promote the brightest minds in Africa, foster scientific excellence, inspire research leadership and accelerate innovation. This platform applies a transformative agenda to shift the gravity of science in Africa through resource mobilisation, leadership development, R&D infrastructure and strengthening the science ecosystem supported by equitable global partnerships.
Tom highlighted a few of AESA’s achievements:
Scientific quality and productivity
Africa currently accounts for less than 1% of the world’s research output (Africa is home to 17% of the global population). Since 2015, AESA has created over 15 programmes, which are designed to build R&D infrastructure, provide postdoctoral fellowships, spur innovation and entrepreneurship and support scientific publishing, science communication and public engagement. Its flagship programme, the Developing Excellence in Leadership, Training and Science (DELTAS) Africa programme supports world-class research, the training of future generations of scientists and has resulted in the publication of over 1200 papers and policy briefs.
“The DELTAS Africa initiative is likely to be one of the most impactful efforts ever in terms of African research production, numbers and quality of African trainees, and strengthening of African institutions, particularly with respect to knowledge translation and community and public engagement”
Supporting young African scientists and women in science
Thumbi Ndungu, DELTAS Africa health science leader
2. Supporting young African scientists and women in science
AESA programmes bring together a critical mass of scientists and emerging leaders, to develop locally relevant and high-quality research to impact health science, policy and practice in Africa. These programmes have recruited over 2500 researchers from across the continent and have ensured 50/50 gender parity.
3. Promoting intra-Africa collaborations
AESA encourages African researchers from across the continent to work together to solve common challenges. Through its programmes, AESA has recruited over 2000 young scientists from 100 universities across 50 African countries, creating bespoke models to ensure the inclusion of disadvantaged countries and institutions.
4. Creating science-based high value jobs in Africa
Through their programmes, AAS and AESA have created thousands of high value jobs across the continent. Jobs have been created across the science sector as leaders, post-docs, students and administrators. AAS is also developing global strategic partnerships with the private sector to create opportunities for African scientists in biotech and biopharma companies.
5. Strengthening research systems
Through policy recommendations on open science and financial governance, the AAS is strengthening research systems across the continent. The organisation is engaging with African businesses and national governments to provide financial resources to accelerate research-based education in Africa and increase research capacity so that African problems can be solved by Africans on the continent.
Six researchers from Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia and Liberia have been awarded the 2020-21 Senior AfOx Visiting Fellowships. Their proposed areas of study cover a range of disciplines: philosophy, history, neuroimaging, astrophysics, public health and research ethics.
Built on the success of the AfOx Visiting Fellows Programme, the Senior AfOx Visiting Fellowships are designed to enable accomplished African researchers to spend up to three academic terms in Oxford to share their expertise broadly with researchers based in Oxford and build broad long-term collaborations between their home institutions and the University of Oxford.
We received over 125 high-quality applications from across the continent, which led to a very competitive multi-stage review and interview process. During their time in Oxford, the Senior AfOx Fellows will work in collaboration with Oxford researchers to advance their work.
Find out more about the Senior AfOx Visiting Fellows below.
Boutheina Kerkeni, Professor, ISAMM Université la Manouba, Tunisia
Project: Combined Quantum chemical and Kinetics Investigations of H2 formation on Molecular Clusters for Astrochemical Interest
Astrochemists have struggled to explain the formation of molecules in a highly dilute environment such as the interstellar medium (ISM). Understanding the chemistry of the interstellar medium can enrich our understanding of the universe and may help to reveal the origin of life. During this Fellowship, Boutheina will investigate several icy grain models mainly in the form of nanoclusters, with varying composition and sizes using molecular dynamics and sophisticated quantum chemistry tools.
Aim: The goal of this project is to derive fundamental and molecule specific parameters, like IR spectra (to compare o Observations), reaction rates and diffusion barriers. These can then be included in astrochemical models which simulate ice evolution and complexity over realistic typical timescales.
Oxford Collaboration: Dimitra Rigopoulou, Department of Physics
Boutheina Kerkeni | ISAMM Université la Manouba,Tunisia
Professor, Department of Physics
Oxford Collaboration: Dimitra Rigopoulou, Department of Physics
Kalpana Hiralal, Professor, University of Kwazulu –Natal, South Africa
Project: The struggle for gender equality in South Africa’s Road to Democracy
During her Fellowship, Kalpana will critically examine women’s struggles for gender equality in South Africa and the role women played in challenging colonial and apartheid governments and how those historical origins affected their position in the post-apartheid state. Kalpana’s research argues that during the liberation movement, gender and women’s issues were relegated to the periphery in support of nationalistic goals.
Aim: Kalpana’s research will provide a better understanding of how gender issues were addressed in post nationalistic states, particularly in South Africa. Through publications and by engaging with academics and policy makers, she aims to inform policy, and work with the civic society and youth towards a progressive non-sexist society.
Oxford collaboration: Julia Viebach, African Studies Centre
Kalpana Hiralal | University of Kwazulu –Natal
Professor, Department of History
Oxford Collaboration: Julia Viebach, African Studies Centre
Stephen B. Kennedy, Senior Researcher, University of Liberia, Liberia
Project: Strengthen Research Ethics Committees in Liberia for Genomic Studies
The unprecedented Ebola outbreak, in December 2013 led to an exponential increase in clinical trials in Liberia with complex laboratory procedures for studying human biological samples such as blood and saliva. This has created sub-regional challenges for the design and implementation of complex study protocols to investigate experimental products for diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. During the Fellowship, Stephen Kennedy, will address these challenges and directly contribute to strengthening Liberia’s research ethics evaluation processes.
Aim: The proposed study has the potential to strengthen the ethics platform and research environment in the country and provide guidance to the Ministry of Health to inform programs and policies for the governance of biobanking and genomic research.
Oxford Collaboration: Michael Parker & Patricia Kignori, Ethox Centre
Stephen Kennedy |University of Liberia, Liberia
Senior Researcher, UL-PIRE Africa Center & Senior Scientist, Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine
Oxford Collaboration: Michael Parker & Patricia Kignori, Ethox Centre
Godwin Inalegwu Ogbole, Associate Professor, University of Ibadan, Nigeria
Project: Enhancing clinical decisions that improve outcomes in Africans with stroke and dementia using advanced MRI techniques
Stroke is a major cause of physical and mental disability in Africa, and its management remains a growing problem. Stroke survivors develop significant disability such as post stroke dementia, which affects up to a third of stroke survivors, and progressively worsens despite treatments. In Nigeria, Godwin is working to find effective tools to manage complications caused by stroke. He will investigate imaging modalities including Arterial Spin Labelling with a view to developing capacity for evaluation of cognitive impairments in African stroke survivors.
Aim: This fellowship will enable translation of knowledge between Oxford and Nigeria and other parts of Africa. It will contribute to understanding the distinct patterns of neurodegenerative and cerebrovascular diseases in black Africans.
Oxford Collaboration: Peter Jezzard, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences
Godwin Inalegwu Ogbole | Univeristy of Ibadan, Nigeria
Associate Professor, Department of Radiology
Oxford Collaboration: Peter Jezzard, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences
Workineh Kelbessa Golga, Professor, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
Project: Water ethics and its contribution to sustainable water resources management
Water is essential for all forms of life and the ecological conditions that sustain them. However, 785 million people lack access to improved drinking water sources and 2 billion people lack adequate sanitation. Water injustices such as dumping of hazardous wastes into streams, rivers and oceans and unilateral exploitation of international transboundary rivers exacerbate the challenge. While there is extensive work on technical, economic and political approaches to water management, the ethical dimensions of water governance have not received sufficient attention.
Aim: During his Fellowship, Workineh will examine the role of indigenous water ethics in addressing the current water crisis in Africa. He will explore different ethical principles (indigenous and modern) that can play an important role in the management of water resources.
Oxford Collaboration: Roger Crisp, Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford Collaboration: Roger Crisp, Faculty of Philosophy
Laetitia Charmaine Rispel, Professor, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa and Chair, South African Research Chairs Initiative
Project: Research on the Health workforce
A target of SDG 3 is to achieve ‘universal health coverage for all’. An adequately skilled, productive and well-motivated health workforce is essential to achieve this target. Laetitia Rispel will draw data from the WiSDOM (Wits longitudinal Study to Determine the Operation of the labour Market among its health professional graduates) cohort study to generate new knowledge on the career choices and job location decisions of health professionals in South Africa. She will also work on a book project on the nursing crisis in South Africa that uses a historical perspective to shed light on the seemingly dysfunctional and constantly changing health system.
Aim: During the Senior Fellowship, Laetitia will publish the findings of the WISDOM study with the aim of contributing to the development and implementation of national health workforce policies in South Africa. She will complete several chapters of a book on nursing in South Africa during her fellowship.
Oxford Collaboration: Rebecca Surender, Department of Social Policy and Intervention
Laetitia Rispel |University of the Witwatersrand and Chair, South African Research Chairs Initiative, South Africa
Professor, School of Public Health
Oxford collaboration: Rebecca Surender, Department of Social Policy and Intervention