Funding Opportunities

AAS-AESA launches closed call for AESA-RISE Postdoctoral Fellowship (AR-PDF) programme

The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) of the African Academy of Sciences has launched a closed call for application for the Carnegie-funded AESA-RISE Postdoctoral Fellowship (AR-PDF) programme. This is a closed call because only PhD-graduates of the Carnegie-supported Regional Initiative in Science and Education (RISE) programme can apply. This AESA-RISE Postdoctoral fellowship programme builds on the legacy of the RISE programme which was established in 2008 to support scientists and engineers in sub-Saharan Africa pursuing master's and doctoral degrees through competitively selected, university-based research and teaching networks.

RISE was designed to strengthen science research and education in sub-Saharan Africa by increasing the population of qualified academic staff in the region’s universities, with a longer-term goal of building STI capacity to stimulate economic development. This is the foundation and legacy that the AR-PDF is building on to further develop research careers in Africa.

The period following completion of a PhD is a critical one in the development of a research career. It provides the opportunity to demonstrate originality, creativity, productivity and potential to develop as an independent scientist. Most of Africa largely lacks a structured postdoctoral system necessary to support this critical career-development stage. Consequently, doctoral graduates often become immersed in administrative and teaching duties immediately after graduation and lose their research focus and ambitions. The result is a block early in the pipeline of producing the world class researchers Africa desperately needs for the development of science-led, knowledge-based economies.

The overall long-term goal of the AESA post-doctoral fellowship schemes is to build a critical mass of African research leaders who are well equipped to independently lead science programmes at local and international levels, including the capacity to engage successfully with funders, policy makers, communities and other stakeholders, and to serve as mentors and supervisors for the next generation of researchers in Africa.


With support from Carnegie Corporation of New York (CCNY), the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) – Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) aims to address this challenge by providing a quality post-doctoral training programme that is well structured to ensure the holistic development of the next generation of Africa’s research leaders.

The long-term expectation is that each fellowship will result in publications, new grants, on-going collaborative research work and an expansion of international research networks. To make this happen, the programme management team will stay in touch with fellows and request updates on a long-term basis.

Selection of successful applicants will be strictly based on excellence and merit, critically assessing the following areas:

  1. Scientific and technical excellence, including a clear and rigorous conceptual framework for research activities
  2. Innovation, including creativity of the project’s approach and clear differentiation from existing approaches.
  3. Unique project resources, including investigator and host institution capabilities and potential to enhance collaborations, mentorship and supervision in future.
  4. Value in terms of appropriateness of the budget and timelines relative to project complexity, risk, and potential outcomes/impact.
  5. Potential to lead to significant advancement of knowledge in the chosen field

The AESA-RISE postdoctoral fellowship programme has four main pillars. These are:

  • training the next generation of scientific leaders through a mentored approach with attractive career pathways so that they can live, work and scientifically thrive in Africa;
  • building research and development (R&D) environments and centers of excellence that are globally competitive and can nurture, attract, train, and reward the best minds in Africa;
  • supporting a generation of science-driven innovators and entrepreneurs to emerge out of the developed R&D environments; and
  • addressing and/or plugging critical gaps in the entire higher education and research management systems in Africa through introduction of quality standards, ethics and policies that strengthen the research ecosystem.

AESA’s focus on people, places, and programmes in Africa to accelerate world-class research, foster innovation and promote scientific leadership will be visible in this programme. This programme will be the precursor to the bigger and open-to-all-Africa AESA postdoctoral programme.  

AESA continues to work at ensuring an Africa-led, Africa-centred, and Africa-relevant science and technology agenda on the continent and is grateful to the Carnegie Corporation of New York for buying into the vision and being a partner for realising this dream in the development of research for sustainable development in Africa.