Shifting the centre of gravity for African Science to Africa


On August 6, Director of the African Academy of Sciences, Prof Tom Kariuki presented 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.


Shifting the centre
                                                                                       Source: African Academy of Sciences

Tom highlighted a few of AESA’s achievements:

1. 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.

Deltas Africa map
                                                                                            Source: African Academy of Sciences

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. 

                                                                                   Source: African Academy of Sciences


Find out more about AESA’s pioneering work and achievements by listening to Tom’s full talk on our YouTube channel here: