By Sharon Atieno and Alfred Nyakinda
The African Academy of Sciences (AAS) unveiled the Research Management Programme in Africa (ReMPro Africa) which will strengthen institutional research management functions thus, maximizing researchers’ time spent on research and innovation.
“For years, African researchers have routinely been spending upwards of 80 percent of their working week on routine administration, working evenings and weekends to carry out their research. This can threaten the delivery, integrity and quality of research, which is why specialist research management services are needed to free up their time for research,” said The AAS Director of Programmes Professor Tom Kariuki.
The programme is a response to the critical gaps that were identified in building the continent’s research and development ecosystems that support a vibrant research culture and leadership. ReMPro Africa seeks to address systemic level challenges at African institutions in creating and sustaining enabling research environments for the flourishment of research.
“Through the support of Wellcome and other funders for ReMPro Africa we hope that not only are institutional research management systems strengthened but more importantly that the staff who lead these vital services see some of the world’s biggest funders right behind them and acknowledging their pivotal role in a productive research system,” said Dr Simon Kay, Head of International Operations and Partnerships at Wellcome.
Findings from a study commissioned by The AAS and Wellcome reveal that researchers funded by The AAS are spending a disproportionate amount of time on administration.
In response, The AAS and partners have identified research management as a critical gap that is being addressed as one of the four strategic priorities for the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), the agenda-setting and funding platform created by the Academy and the African Union Development Agency.
Ms Allen Mukhwana, who leads ReMPro Africa, said: “The AAS recognizes that the business of doing research is all-encompassing, and creating conducive environments in Africa is essential to maximize research output and impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
ReMPro Africa will focus on 4 themes: embracing leadership – sustainable funding mechanisms – common standards and best practice – supporting career development and training. The programme is expected to influence more funding for research management to ensure a long term approach to transforming research in the continent.
“Developing efficient research systems is a crucial, capacity-building component to ensure international development research delivers sustainable solutions for a fairer, healthier and more prosperous future for all,” said Professor Andrew Thompson, United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) Executive Champion for Global Challenges Research Fund in a statement. “That’s why UK Research and Innovation is delighted to be supporting the African Academy of Sciences in its ambitious programme to transform research systems in Africa.” Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org