AfricaLics – the African Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems – is looking for suitable PhD student candidates from universities in African countries to participate in the AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowship Programme (2022 cohort) focused on Innovation and Development.
Under this programme successful candidates will be provided with the opportunity to participate in a fellowship programme combining online pre- and post-activities with a study period of 4 months at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology (JOOUST) in Kenya. Mentoring will be provided by a range of African and international scholars in Innovation and Development studies who are research active in AfricaLics and Globelics. The programme will also receive support from the Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development (TRCTI) Please see: https://www.uj.ac.za/faculties/cbe/SARChI-TRCTI).
The Call is made at a time of continued uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we expect that it will be possible to implement the programme according to plans and starting with online activities in February-March 2022. We, therefore, urge students to apply despite the uncertainties.
Within the AfricaLics community, innovation is broadly defined as spanning from “new to the world inventions” to the diffusion and use of technology new to the user or context in which it is introduced and includes competence building among users of innovation. Technology here can mean both a physical product; a new process e.g. for manufacturing a product and a new way of doing or organising things. Innovation and Development Studies research as defined by the AfricaLics network includes the study and management of processes that link technological and social innovation with development. This includes studies and improved understandings of how learning and competence building systems contribute to development processes. For more info on the main thematic areas addressed by AfricaLics, please see https://www.africalics.org/thematic-areas/.
Scholars in the field may have a background in economics and/or other social sciences (e.g. Sociology, Political Science, Science and Technology Policy, Geography, History or Development Studies), but some also work within the STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) subjects or even manufacturing. They work within a broad range of areas including energy and sustainable development/transformation, health, gender, agriculture, manufacturing and work organisation, big data and the fourth industrial revolution.
To understand more about the field of innovation and development and see if your work fits within this research area, please look at papers published in relevant journals including (but not only) the following: African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development; Innovation and Development; Research Policy; Journal of International Development; International Journal of Technology Learning, Innovation and Development; International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development; Journal of Development Economics; Journal of Science and Technology Policy; Journal of Evolutionary Economics and Journal of Technological Forecasting and Social Change (see: https://www.africalics.org/innovation-and-development-studies-resources/).
Overall aim and organisation of the programme
The aim of the visiting fellowship programme and the scholarships is to help African PhD students working in the field of Innovation and Development to strengthen their academic/research qualifications; improve the quality of their dissertations and prepare for a career in innovation and development either within academia or outside (e.g. in the private sector or in government/policy making).
The visiting fellowship programme does this by increasing the mobility and level of exposure of the PhD students to international knowledge in the field of innovation and development. The programme forms part of the efforts by AfricaLics to contribute to the development of a vibrant research community in Africa in this emerging and highly multidisciplinary field. The Swedish Development Agency, Sida (Stockholm), provides funding for the visiting scholarships as part of the project Enhancing research capacity on Innovation and Development in Africa through the African Network on Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems (AfricaLics) – Phase II (2017-2022).
The AfricaLics secretariat (hosted by the African Centre for Technology Studies) is responsible for the project with the AfricaLics Scientific Board providing advice on scientific matters and issues of strategic importance. The AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowship Programme 2022 is organized jointly by the AfricaLics secretariat and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology in Kenya with support from the AfricaLics and Globelics scholars based at different universities; the UJ-TRCTI and other relevant African and international universities active in the field of Innovation and Development. Mentors for the programme will be selected to ensure best possible match with the successful PhD visiting fellows.
Eligibility and selection criteria
The scholarship option is open to PhD students from countries classified by the OECD/DAC as low and lower-middle-income countries in Africa whose studies – irrespective of sectoral discipline – focus on the relationship between innovation and economic, social or and environmentally sustainable development. Female PhD students are particularly encouraged to apply as AfricaLics endeavours to contribute to increasing the currently low number of female scholars in Innovation and Development research studies in Africa. Likewise, PhD students from low-income countries are particularly encouraged to apply as AfricaLics endeavours, in particular, to increase research capacity in Innovation and Development in low-income countries in Africa.
Applicants must be enrolled as PhD students at African universities and must have completed their first year of PhD studies by December 2021. A maximum of four to six visiting scholarships are available for 2022, but a final number of accepted visiting fellows will depend on the in-depth assessment of applications and funding availability. The visiting scholarship is complementary to the studies of the PhD students at their home universities and applicants must already have secured basic funding for their PhD studies from other sources (e.g. African governments, other organisations, self-financing).
The programme gives priority to students working on topics related to the research themes identified by the AfricaLics network as important to the future of Africa.
The study period
The visiting scholarship provides successful PhD students with the opportunity to study at JOOUST (Nairobi campus) in Kenya for a maximum of four months. The study stay is scheduled to take place from 1st June 2022 to 30th September 2022, but the exact timing will depend on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic. If all goes well, students should arrive on 1st June 2022 to be able to settle and participate in introductory activities as well as in the AfricaLics PhD Academy 2022 scheduled to take place in Nairobi from 12th June to 25th June 2022.
The visiting scholarship will provide students with time off from duties in their home country to focus on consolidating and improving their research, analysing data collected from fieldwork and writing up articles or chapters for their PhD thesis. Students will also do presentations of their project work and benefit from interaction with other visiting fellows and PhD students working on innovation and development issues scholars at JOOUST/the Trilateral Chair and the pool of mentors from the AfricaLics and Globelics network dedicated to working with the AfricaLics Visiting Fellowship Programme.
The study stay will also include possibilities for participating in a limited number of PhD courses (online and/or face-to-face) deemed of particular relevance for the student.
During the fellowship period, each student will be “matched” with one or two scholars with competencies in the field in which the student is active. These matched scholars will act as mentors for the PhD visiting fellows. In this way, the AfricaLics Visiting Fellowship Programme help build research capabilities in the field of Innovation and Development drawing on internationally renowned scholars in the field. The final selection of mentors depends on the topic and background of successful applicants.
Mentors on the AfricaLics PhD VFP are not formal supervisors and hence full responsibility for the PhD study process remains with the PhD student and his/her supervisors from the university where the student is enrolled. This must be a university in Africa. Close interaction between the PhD student, home supervisor and the mentors are required to make sure the study stay contributes in a constructive manner to the studies of the PhD student. Hence, the PhD candidate must organize trilateral meetings and e-mail exchanges between the PhD student, the main supervisor from the home institution and the students’ AfricaLics designated mentors. Meetings will mostly take place through Zoom, but if the situation allows at least one meeting will be a face-to-face meeting as home supervisors and mentors visit their students in Kenya for in-depth discussions on progress made by the PhD student and discussions on research and research capacity building in the field of Innovation and Development in Africa more generally.
Participation in the AfricaLics PhD Visiting Programme should form part of the wider PhD study plan for each applicant, which typically will include various elements such as:
- Initial theoretical studies/taught courses and fieldwork in home country/country where the student is already enrolled as a PhD student (the first year must have been concluded by December 2021).
- Maximum of four months of the study visit to JOOUST to focus on writing up thesis or articles that are part of the PhD thesis.
- Participation in AfricaLics VFP seminars organised as part of the study visit (introduction seminar, paper presentation seminars, other courses and a final seminar).
- Participation in relevant PhD training activities such as the 2022 AfricaLics PhD Academy, collective courses organised by AfricaLics under the programme and one or two carefully selected PhD training courses (online or face-to-face). PhD candidates are responsible for applying to such courses and academies themselves following the agreement with their home supervisors, mentors and the AfricaLics PhD VFP academic coordinator).
- AfricaLics PhD visiting fellows are encouraged to work on and submit papers to upcoming relevant conferences such as e.g. the AfricaLics Conference 2022 and the 18th Globelics conference 2023. Participation in such activities provides exposure to the wider Globelics/AfricaLics community. It is the responsibility of the PhD candidates themselves to apply for participation in such events.
- Return to home country and continue work on PhD dissertation in order to finalize and submit.
The visiting fellowship period includes both online activities before and after the four months of a study visit to JOOUST, but we also encourage students to remain engaged with the AfricaLics network after the fellowship period ends as AfricaLics alumni. Former participants in the AfricaLics VFP are listed on the AfricaLics website (see: https://www.africalics.org/vfp-alumni/). AfricaLics VFP alumni meet occasionally online or in connection with key events and plans for the establishment of a more formalised AfricaLics PhD alumni network are tabled for 2022.
Student requirements and Application Form
Applicants for the AfricaLics PhD visiting fellowship programme should:
- Be enrolled as a PhD student at a university in Africa.
- Have completed their first year of studies by December 2021
- Have a background (BSc, MSc etc.) within Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Science and Technology Policy, Geography, History or Development Studies. Applicants may also work within the STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) subjects or even manufacturing but from a social science perspective.
- Possess adequate skills in English (documentation may be requested).
- Be working actively on a subject relevant to the field of innovation and development as defined above.
- Submit a brief application 1 page/500 words explaining own background, motivation for applying and expected outcomes of participation in the AfricaLics PhD visiting fellowship programme
The application must be accompanied by the following documents:
- A brief outline of your current PhD project including training plan (max. 5 pages)
- Curriculum Vitae – CV (including PhD courses attended so far)
- Letter of support from the main PhD supervisor confirming that the PhD student will have completed her/his upgrade/probation by the end of December 2021
- Letter of support from the University Administration at the university where the PhD student is enrolled
- Copies of academic certificates (copies of Bachelor and Master Certificates as a minimum)
- One writing sample (article or chapter) from the current PhD program
You are NOT expected to submit a copy of your passport when applying for the PhD visiting fellowship programme. If you are offered the scholarship, you will be asked to handle any visa issues that may be relevant yourself. Collection of personal data will be kept at a minimum, stored safely and will not be used for any other purposes.
Applications with all relevant attachments should be forwarded to [email protected] by 23.00hrs East Africa time (EAT) on 15th October 2021.
Applications not fulfilling the requirements above will not be considered, so please forward any questions you may have to [email protected] and you will be assisted.
Successful candidates will be notified by end of November 2021, following which they will be required to confirm their interest (sign study agreement form) and deal with any issues related to visa issues and access to Kenya.
Successful PhD candidates are responsible for ensuring that their passport is valid for the time period they will be staying in Kenya and for dealing with any issues related to the legality of their stay in Kenya (letters of invitation will be forwarded). Details of how to apply for your visit visa in Kenya will be sent to successful candidates along with their confirmation of fellowship letter.
Accommodation and workspace
The AfricaLics secretariat will secure and pay for accommodation during the study visit to Nairobi. The accommodation will be near the Nairobi campus of JOOUST where the students will have their working space.
Additional information on terms and conditions
- Return flight costs from your nearest international airport (economy class) and health insurance will be covered on a reimbursement basis.
- Students must take out their own health insurance for the study period, but the costs will be covered (reimbursed) by the AfricaLics secretariat.
- The visiting scholars will receive a stipend of 90,000 KShs per month (equivalent to approximately 800 USD per month as of the exchange rate at the end of August 2021). This amount should cover all costs while in Nairobi related to living expenses and travel around Nairobi including to and from JOOUST campus.
- A fixed amount is available to cover student participation in selected course activities (over and above the stipend).
- Funding is available for organizing trilateral meetings between the PhD student, the main supervisor from the home institution and the AfricaLics mentor(s) during the study period at JOOUST.
- The scholarship covers only costs related to the visit of the student him/herself. Costs related to accompanying spouses, children or others are unfortunately not possible for the programme to cover. The scholarship does not cover the costs of any additional travel in Kenya that the student may wish to undertake unless as part of selected and approved course activities.
Questions regarding the AfricaLics Visiting PhD Fellowship Programme and the call should be forwarded to: [email protected]
Opening Date: 29th September 2021
Closing Date: 15th October 2021