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TWAS Newsletter
The Academy's quarterly magazine. Download PDF files of individual…

An opportunity for Africa, from Africa

An opportunity for Africa, from Africa

TWAS has joined with South Africa to provide the developing world, and especially Africa, with a surge of new scientific expertise in an effort to keep talent from migrating away. The application deadline is 2 October.

A new PhD and postdoctoral fellowship programme organised by South Africa and TWAS is now open to applicants, providing opportunities for researchers from developing countries to acquire expertise and build successful careers.

Apply for the NRF-TWAS Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships. The deadline for each is 2 October.

South Africa's National Research Foundation (NRF) and Department of Science and Technology (DST) have partnered with the Academy to found the NRF-TWAS Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships. The fellowships will be awarded to scientists from developing countries other than South Africa, and last from six months to three years. 

“At the NRF, we are excited about the TWAS-NRF Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships because they provide us with a vehicle for enhancing research capacity development in Africa and other developing nations,” said Kwezi Mzilikazi, the foundation's director of human and infrastructure capacity development. “Investing in the next generation of researchers will assist us in generating knowledge that will lead to innovative ideas to solve socio-economic challenges of the developing world.”

"In a very substantial way, our partnership with NRF and South Africa advances the cause of building science in the developing world," said TWAS Executive Director Romain Murenzi. "The new fellowships will allow young researchers from Africa and around the world to take advantage of South Africa's growing excellence in research. And when these early career scientists finish their PhDs and return home, science in their countries will be far stronger as a result." 

Over the next five years, the programme will provide 80 fellowships per year, mostly to young researchers pursuing their PhDs. Fifty fellowships are specifically for African researchers from countries other than South Africa. Twenty are for scientists from any developing country. The remaining 10 are postdoctoral fellowships for scientists from any developing country. NRF will provide funding for travel to and from South Africa and money for training and living costs. Instruction will be in English. Both fellowships will begin next year and the deadline to apply is 2 October 2015.

This new programme is in part a major effort by South Africa to develop a new generation of homegrown African scientists to help advance science across the continent. 

Since South Africa’s first general elections in 1994, the country has strived to grow its scientific and technological capability, gaining a reputation as a credible, trustworthy partner that can provide scientific expertise and financial support. The country is engaged internationally in fields ranging from Earth observation to material sciences and life sciences, and it now believes it is in a position to help expose African researchers to top-notch science while mitigating the continent’s loss of talent to developed countries. 

TWAS and South Africa have a history of close collaboration – the Academy's General Meeting was held in Durban in 2009 – but they recently have taken further steps to strengthen ties. The TWAS regional office for sub-Saharan Africa was transferred this year to the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), which is headquarted in Pretoria. ASSAf also hosts the South African chapter of OWSD, the Orgaization for Women in Science for the Developing World, whose offices are provided by TWAS in Trieste, Italy. 

TWAS operates the world's largest programme for PhD and postdoctoral fellowships for researchers from developing countries at top global science institutions in the South. The Academy currently offers over 460 PhD fellowships per year with 13 partners in eight countries, and over 150 postdoctoral fellowships with 16 partners in nine countries. 

Sean Treacy