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African rapid-response Covid-19 research projects selected, but not published

Nearly half the lead investigators are women in Africa-wide grant round

A multi-funder call for African Covid-19 research proposals has selected 80 successful projects, South Africa’s National Research Foundation announced on 28 September. 

However, it did not publish a list of the winners. “We are busy finalising the contracts with the successful applicants, once that is completed we will be able to share more information,” Thabo Dikgale, an NRF official involved in the programme, told Research Professional News.

The projects involve researchers in 17 African countries who will share the pot of US$4.75 million (R80m). Half will be research projects and half will target science engagement. The NRF said close to half the principal investigators are women. 

“I am delighted that, in a matter of months, we have been able to collectively undertake a competitive research management process, including the leveraging of funding for this endeavour, and that excellent research and science engagement projects can now be implemented across these 17 countries,” said Amos Nungu, head of Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology, in a statement. 

The call was a collaboration between the NRF, the African science councils involved in the Science Granting Councils Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (list of countries at the bottom of this article), and funding agencies in Canada, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The NRF administers the programme. 

The research is interdisciplinary and examines the scientific, socio-economic and cultural impacts of the pandemic. Thematic areas include immunology, outbreak preparedness, mental health, and economic impact on vulnerable communities. 

The engagement projects address issues such as misinformation, policy engagement, and capacity-building in science and health journalism.

The SGCI countries are Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe.