The Excell Researcher Excellence and Leadership Programme

AREF enables potential research leaders to up their game



AREF Researcher & Leadership Development Programmes

The Africa Research Excellence Fund (AREF) is delighted to announce the launch of the Excell Researcher and Leadership Development Programme funded with a grant from the Robert Bosch Stiftung.

The aim of the Excell programme is to enhance research capacity in global health – by African scientists in Africa for Africa. Through this 2-year programme, AREF will work closely with four to six research institutions from Africa, selected competitively.

AREF will enable 20 individual researchers (nominees) from our participating research institutions to realise their potential – build strong research careers, empower excellent teams, win funding and collaborate internationally.


1. Learning themes


2.1 Programme outline

In the 18 months from May 2018 to October 2019, the programme will include:

  • Opening and closing conferences with participating institutions and individual researchers.
  • Four inspiring and practical residential 3-to-4-day workshops at quarterly intervals
  • Supplementary webinars, tutorials and on-line resources
  • Baseline and end-of-programme assessments and evaluation
  • Collaborating projects and networking


3. Information for institutions 


3.1 Eligibility criteria

This call is open to legally established universities and internationally-recognised research institutions based in Africa. Applications should be submitted to AREF from the institutions by an authorised institutional Academic/Researcher-development lead who, as Lead Applicant will be responsible for developing and implementing the Excell programme within their institution.

Your application will need to be sponsored by the institution’s leadership: a named official with responsibility for research capacity development, such as the pro-vice chancellor for research or the research institution’s director. He/She must personally engage in local sponsorship and governance of the Excell programme.

AREF will accept applications from an entity within a university, such as a faculty, institute or centre, provided that the application is authorised by the institutional leadership (sponsor). Only ONE application will be accepted from each university or research institution. Joint applications such as between a university (-ies) and independent institutions are welcome, if one institution takes the lead and is responsible for ensuring sound governance and implementation.

If your institutional application is successful, AREF will select and offer to enrol three or four of your researchers (nominees) to participate in the programme.  Selection of individual participants for the programme will be based on AREF’s assessment of the relative potential for both the individual and institution to benefit, and on ensuring disciplinary, gender and regional balance in the Excell programme overall.


3.2 Nominating participants

Each organisation will select three or four nominees to participate in the programme, through an internal transparent, competitive process.  Institutions are encouraged to use the AREF-provided nominee application form and call flier, and to adapt them for their internal competition.  Institutions are strongly encouraged to start the process of selecting nominees early to ensure timely submission of their application.

To qualify as a participant, your nominees must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • A national of African state
  • Employed in an eligible institution in a post with a significant and specific research role
  • Must have 2-6 full years of active postdoctoral research experience. Clinicians without a PhD who have a research Masters and 4-7 years of active research experience will also be considered
  • Declaration that they have not participated in an equivalent programme to Excell, or in separate training events that cover two of the five learning themes
  • AREF is keen to recruit talented researchers from a broad range of disciplines, including laboratory, clinical, behavioural, social, public health, economic, health systems, and environmental and mathematical sciences. Their research must be directed towards achieving better health outcomes in Africa.


3.3 Application

Before starting your application, please read through all the information supplied.

Application deadline is 15th March 2018!


Application timeline:

Any questions? The AREF Secretariat is available to answer all Excell related questions.

Contact for queries: Sulayman Janneh (Awards & Finance Manager) at

Please insert “Excell Programme” in the subject line.