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FEATURE STORY August 1, 2018

The Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund: World Bank, Government of Korea Investing in Better Quality Higher Education to Build Africa’s Talent


Prof. Goolam Mohamedbhai (Chairperson of the PASET Consultative Advisory Group), Dr. Sajitha Bashir (World Bank Education Global Practice Manager for the East Africa Region), Dr. Segenet Kelemu (Director-General and CEO of icipe), and Dr. Javier Botero Alvarez (World Bank Lead Education Specialist and Task Team Leader for the RSIF) at the signing of the financing agreement for the World Bank grant to icipe for the RSIF

The World Bank and the Government of Korea are the latest partners to financially support the African government-led Partnership for skills in Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) through a World Bank project approved by the Board of Directors on July 5, 2018. The US$15 million World Bank grant and US$10 million Government of Korea contribution will support PASET’s vision to develop the RSIF as a prestigious pan-African science fund that nurtures the highest quality PhD training, research and innovation. The recent contributions come to supplement the existing investments made by the Governments of Kenya (US$2 million) and Rwanda (US$1.5 million), and additional commitments from the Governments of Senegal, Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire (US$2 million each).

After facilitating the RSIF alongside African governments since its inception, the World Bank is excited to now become a financial partner on the RSIF and to be joined by the Government of Korea in this endeavor,” said Dr. Sajitha Bashir, World Bank Education Global Practice Manager for the East Africa Region. “This new project is a milestone for us and we look forward to continuing to work with African governments and new partners to take the RSIF program to greater heights and building African capacity in science and technology.”

RSIF: Investing in Africa’s Higher Quality Postdoctoral Knowledge and Skills

The World Bank’s financial investments will build on the existing RSIF program and aim to reach at least US$65 million by 2024 with contributions from African governments, private sector, foundations, and other donors.  The World Bank will finance all design and administration costs for the three RSIF windows for PhD scholarships, research grants and innovation grants, and help build the capacity of approximately 10 sub-Saharan African universities to become world-class institutions with distinguished PhD, research and innovation programs in applied sciences, engineering and technology (ASET) fields. These universities will train scholars to become future leaders who understand global issues such as climate change and leverage transformative technologies to solve the continents’ problems. The Government of Korea will support the allocation of PhD scholarships and research grants in areas particularly related to transformative technologies. The RSIF will also offer PhD scholars the opportunity to complete part of their doctoral program at partner institutions such as the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) or companies.

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), based in Nairobi, Kenya, was competitively selected to serve as the Regional Coordination Unit for the project. The Center will receive and administer the grant funds and play a key role in growing the RSIF. The Centre will also monitor and evaluate activities, build the institutional capacity of African universities, and leverage its positive track record in resource mobilization, scholarship, research and innovation with overall guidance from the PASET Governing Council and Executive Board. “We are delighted to become a part of this exciting African initiative and contribute towards building an ecosystem for top-quality research and innovation on the continent. We share PASET’s vision for the RSIF and are committed to ensuring its success” said Dr. Segenet Kelemu, Director-General and CEO of ICIPE.

The World Bank is committed to investing in people to build human capital as a means for countries to end poverty. Human capital – the potential of individuals – will be the most important long-term investment countries can make to improve people’s future quality of life. In this light, the World Bank will continue supporting the RSIF to further invest in the future of African talent and help build a workforce ready to tackle the continent’s most pressing development challenges in a world increasingly defined by technological change.