New PhD Scholarship programme launched in Mauritius, targets African researchers

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI), an international NGO and charity working for the scientific independence of Africa, has announced the creation of the Mrs Ameenah Gurib-Fakim PhD Scholarship programme. The PhD scholarship programme is a PEI and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) initiative in partnership with the African Academy of Sciences (AAS).

The Programme will begin with 10 full PhD research grants for Mauritian researchers (or African researchers studying in Mauritius). Following the pilot 10 grants, the Programme is aiming to expand across Africa to award 10,000 PhD Scholarships in the coming decade in the areas of water, energy, agribusiness, health and blue sky research. The PEI and the BMGF hope that the areas of focus will help to equip Africa with the critical mass of scientific leaders it needs to become a continent of knowledge-based, sustainable economies.

(TOP: Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius, and Vice Chairman and Trustee of the Planet Earth Institute – left- and Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute).

The grants awarded to the initial ten researchers will cover the entire duration of the PhD, and will include both the full cost of academic and research time required at host universities, as well as a generous living expenses stipend. The scholarship winners will be announced by 1st July and the research placements will be intended to begin in September 2016.

Successful applicants will spend time at both an African and a UK host university, as well as time in industry, as relevance to the potential impact on economic growth and job creation are critical to the Programme. In Africa, the host institutions are the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Nairobi, the University of Cape Town, the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of the Witwatersrand, Rhodes University and the Sir Magdi Yacoub Research Network. In the UK, the host academic institutions are the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Greenwich, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Glasgow, Middlesex University and Newcastle University.

The Planet Earth Institute Foundation will run the Programme in its entirety, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Academy of Sciences, as well as additional partners who will be announced in due course. A full-time Programme Co-ordinator will be based at the Planet Earth Institute Foundation in Mauritius to work alongside the senior Executive team.

Dr Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius, and Vice Chairman and Trustee of the Planet Earth Institute said: “This PhD Programme is about offering a new and exciting opportunity for Mauritian researchers, and also to take a further step toward Africa taking its rightful place as a leader in global science race. If Mauritius is to become a knowledge-based economy and Africa a knowledge-based continent, we must invest in equipping our people with the skills they need to thrive. They must be problem solvers; job creators; innovators.

Given that there are 11 million young Africans entering the labour market each year, we must not let these talents go to waste. This programme, starting with Mauritius as a laboratory before its roll out across Africa, will support our talented young people to become entrepreneurs and to support the development of research critical to the future of Africa.”

Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute commented:With the Council Members of the Planet Earth Institute Foundation, including figures such as Lord Boateng, Sir Christopher Edwards and Sir Magdi Yacoub and with the support of leading scientists such as Professor Paul Younger, the PEI is committed to creating a world-class PhD Programme for Mauritian scientists. We have partnered with the very best universities in the world in Africa and the UK, and we will now partner with the very best of the private sector. What’s more, through the PEI Foundation networks, the Ameenah Gurib-Fakim scholars will have opportunity to promote their research to a global audience.”

The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) is an international NGO and charity working for the scientific independence of Africa whose work is built around the three pathways required to help lead Africa to scientific independence: Higher Education, Technological Innovation and Policy and Advocacy. The NGO is headquartered in London, UK, with offices in Port Louis, Mauritius and Luanda, Angola

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