The African Academy of Sciences Announces New Game Changing Programme to Strengthen Research Management in Africa
The African Academy of Sciences (The AAS) is today announcing the Research Management Programme in Africa (ReMPro Africa). This programme will strengthen institutional research management functions and therefore maximise researchers time spent on research and innovation. It is a response to the critical gaps that were identified in building the continent’s research and development ecosystems that support a vibrant research culture and leadership. The overall goal of ReMPro Africa is to address systemic level challenges at African institutions in creating and sustaining enabling research environments for the flourishment of research.
ReMPro Africa was announced at an inaugural global stakeholders’ workshop in Nairobi today, attended by research management professionals, researchers, institutional leaders and funders.
“For years, African researchers have routinely been spending upwards of 80% of their working week on routine administration, working evenings and weekends to carry out their research. This can threaten the delivery, integrity and quality of research, which is why specialist research management services are needed to free up their time for research,” said The AAS Director of Programmes Professor Tom Kariuki.
Building on existing investments and initiatives to strengthen research management, The AAS’s strategy for ReMPro Africa has been informed by consultation with stakeholders, including university management from across the Continent, conducted by The AAS over the past three years, and by a study commissioned by The AAS and Wellcome. These findings clearly reveal that researchers funded by The AAS are spending a disproportionate amount of time on administration.
In response, The AAS and partners have identified research management as a critical gap that is being addressed as one of the four strategic priorities for the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), the agenda-setting and funding platform created by the Academy and the African Union Development Agency.
Ms Allen Mukhwana, who leads ReMPro Africa, said: “The AAS recognises that the business of doing research is all-encompassing, and creating conducive environments in Africa is essential to maximise research output and impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
ReMPro Africa will focus on 4 themes: embracing leadership – sustainable funding mechanisms – common standards and best practise – supporting career development and training.
The global experts workshop being held in Nairobi this week will accelerate the implementation of ReMPro Africa by facilitating the development of a global research management standard.
ReMPRO Africa is backed by Wellcome, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Royal Society, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). ReMPro Africa is expected to leverage more funding for research management to ensure a long-term approach to transforming the field on a Continent where a ‘stop-go’ approach to research management has reflected the priorities of national governments and international funders. The time is right for leadership on the African continent.
Dr Simon Kay, Head of International Operations and Partnerships at Wellcome, said: “Success in all organisations is underpinned by strong governance and management. Research is no different. Through the support of Wellcome and other funders for ReMPro Africa we hope that not only are institutional research management systems strengthened but more importantly that the staff who lead these vital services see some of the world’s biggest funders right behind them and acknowledging their pivotal role in a productive research system”.
Professor Andrew Thompson, UKRI Executive Champion for International, said: “Developing efficient research systems is a crucial, capacity-building component to ensure international development research delivers sustainable solutions for a fairer, healthier and more prosperous future for all. That’s why UK Research and Innovation is delighted to be supporting the African Academy of Sciences in its ambitious programme to transform research systems in Africa. This programme will enhance the impact of current Global Challenges Research Fund investments and promote further collaboration between UK and African universities as we all work together to address the greatest challenges facing the world today.”