Question Eight

8. A Needs Based Approach to Funding

  • Q: A lot of the funding for Africa’s research mostly comes from Northern institutions and funders, how do we ensure such funding is aligned to the vision and needs of the continent? Francis Naab

A: If we take as given that Northern funding will, at least for the foreseeable future, play a significant role in financing research in Africa (notwithstanding questions about the extent and nature of this role raised, among others by recent cuts to UKRI support for inquiry in LMIC, then the need to ensure the alignment of such funding with the vision and needs of the continent is critical. 

The question of how best to do this (and what role PARC might play in this regard) is one that needs more deliberation.  Open, firm and concerted calls or demands from African research constituencies themselves, are vital.  Some comprehensive yet careful thinking on concrete funding models specifically to strengthen African research institutions has been done – and provides another starting point. Another might be to promote global North contributions to the envisaged AfDB-driven Africa Knowledge and Capacity Fund mentioned above. Another, perhaps, is to undertake some mapping: of the evolving set of initiatives, such as Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), already in place or being developed to shift the ‘centre of gravity’ of international funding for African research to the continent an of the broader landscape of global North funding for Africa-focused research across disciplines and funder types. 

A firm understanding of the extent to- and ways in which alignment with African priorities is sought, and key underlying rationales could help identify spaces and modes for ‘us’ to engage as well as, perhaps, unexpected champions and sound practice models to consider.