Young scientists in Kenya and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa will receive up to Sh20 million from the African Academy of Sciences to do research that provides solutions that improve the quality of life for all Africans.
The fellowship is meant to attract scientists working abroad wishing to return home to research.
The programme dubbed Future Leaders African Independent Researchers Fellowship (FLAIR) will cater for the researcher’s salary, expenses accrued during fieldwork, equipment, training and administrative fees for institutions that host them. Unemployed scientists are free to apply.
To qualify, applicants need to be hosted by an institution in Kenya, hold a PhD and have no more than 10 years of research experience. The application should include a detailed research proposal and the grant can be renewed after two years depending on the researcher’s performance.
FUNDING AND HUMAN RESOURCE
FLAIR comes at a time when Kenya’s research capacity remains low due to inadequate funding and human resources, and Africa’s contribution to the global scientific knowledge base is less than two per cent, according to the UNESCO Science Report of 2016.
In recent years, the government has made an effort by establishing bodies such as the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (Nacosti), Kenya National Innovation Agency and the National Research Fund (NRF) to champion local research.
From 2016 to June in 2017, Nacosti had received 4,721 applications for research licenses and three out of four were for social sciences and humanities research, while 11 and five per cent were for health and biological sciences respectively.
FLAIR targets natural sciences (physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, engineering, agricultural, biological and medical research), archaeological and geographical sciences as well as experimental psychology, which are underrepresented.
However, clinical and patient-orientated research, economics, social science and humanities research are not accepted.