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African scientists get Sh7b boost for research

NAIROBI: African researchers will now access a new outfit that drives the continent’s research agenda.

The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (Aesa) launched recently is expected to hasten long term development projects by encouraging research to provide solutions within the continent.

Led by biomedical scientist Tom Kariuki, the think-tank will manage Sh7 billion for research to build an African scientific capacity and leadership. “Africa is home to the most dynamic innovators and institutions poised to advance the continent's research agenda,” said Dr Kariuki who is the Aesa director.

Dr Kariuki further acknowledged that the Aesa takeoff is a prime field to fund and train researchers and encourage them to propel Africa’s development.

Mauritius first female President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim who attended the launch at Serena Hotel in Nairobi said it as the opportune time for governments in Africa to take action and prioritise funding for local scientific research and innovation.

“As a scientist, entrepreneur and a president, I have seen the impact that investments in science can have on individual researchers and on a country’s development,” said Prof Gurib-Fakim.

Before being elected President of Mauritius in June, she served as the dean of the science faculty and manager at the Mauritius Research Council where she was recognised as an advocate for domestic funding for science and research. She is also a chemistry researcher with a bias to medicinal plants and has co-authored 20 books on the subject.

Some of the organisations that have pledged to support Aesa include Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wellcome Trust and the UK Department for International Development.

The Grand Challenges Africa announced four calls for proposals on antimicrobial resistance, newborn and infant gut health, digital financial services and global health priority with the initial grants for USD100,000.

Endorsed by African Heads of State and Governments, Aesa that will have a home in Nairobi will support the enactment of the African Union’s Science Technology and Innovation Strategy and the African Health Strategy.

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