July 2019

The Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) and European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) are delighted to announce the award of five AREF-EDCTP Preparatory Fellowships designed to enable emerging scientists in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop their researcher capabilities and go on to compete for international funding opportunities.  The Fellowships provide each awardee with placement at a centre of excellence in Europe or Africa and opportunities for advanced training, mentorship and research collaboration.

The successful awardees in this first AREF-EDCTP call are as follows.

AREF-Funded Fellows

  1. Dr Cornelius Ssemakalu of Vaal University of Technology, South Africa
  2. Dr Mbazi Senkoro of National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania
  3. Dr Peter Maduabuchi Eze of Nnamdi Azikuwe University Awka, Nigeria

EDCTP-Funded Fellows

  1. Dr Abubakar Shaaban Hoza
  2. Dr Hamdan Abualbasher

Click on the AREF-Sponsored Fellows name to learn more about their research interests and Fellowship.

Further Information


Many aspiring African researchers lack the mentorship, intellectual challenge and rigour that well-funded established institutions in the North can offer to their early postdoctoral researchers. Africa accounts for 15-20% of the world’s population and a disproportionately large share of disease burden, yet scientific publications by African researchers account for less than 2% of the total academic journal output.

AREF and the EDCTP have joined together to address this challenge by enabling African researchers to enhance their competitiveness for international funding opportunities early in their careers while retaining them in Africa, working on Africa’s health challenges and priorities.


Capacity strengthening needs for health research in Africa have been documented by EDCTP, the World Bank and others. Lack of funding and systematic career development for researchers are two significant gaps. In general, health research capacity building programmes in Africa and other low-income regions are more tailored to PhD candidates than to early-career postdoctoral scientists.

Furthermore, international fellowship programmes typically focus on people showing exceptional talent and promise. The experience of global health research funders is that Africans are under-represented and less competitive in their funding schemes: their science may be promising but the framing of research questions; the research design; the proposed analyses and mentoring are often not well developed.

The Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) aims to bridge the critical gap early in the career path from research experience to research leadership. AREF shares a common vision with the EDCTP by nurturing and investing in talented, emerging researchers in Africa to deliver excellent science and save lives on the continent.