The UK’s West Africa Research and Innovation Hub, has facilitated the joining of Nigeria’s Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) into the membership of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Science Granting Councils Initiative in sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI) on Monday announced that the Nigeria Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) has joined the initiative to advance research excellence in sub-Saharan Africa.

TETFund is an agency set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions. It’s Research and Development (R&D) support is becoming an institutional reference and has changed Nigeria’s narrative in many aspects.

Nigeria is already a major producer of research in Africa, though a recent study suggests that it has the clear potential to do more, given the number of its universities (196), think-tanks and research professionals.

Speaking on the development, Prof. Suleiman Elias Bogoro, Executive Secretary Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), said: “National growth and competitiveness (in the context of globalized economy) depends very much on continuous technological improvement and innovation driven by a well-organized vibrant Research and Development System.

“We are confident that our admission into SGCI will open a new window of opportunities that will provide platforms that can serve as a fulcrum in achieving our goals of Nigeria’s transition to a knowledge economy in the 21st century.

“We are assured of quality partnerships and collaborations on the continent of Africa and beyond.”

Starting in 2015, the Science Granting Councils Initiative has been jointly funded by the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), South Africa’s National Research Foundation (NRF), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the German Research Foundation (DFG). The initiative aims to strengthen the capacities of Science Granting Councils (SGCs) in sub-Saharan Africa in order to support research and evidence-based policies that will contribute to economic and social development.

Through this engagement with TETFund, facilitated by FCDO’s West Africa Research and Innovation Hub, Nigeria has become the 16th country in SGCI.

Initially it will join other SGCs through the SGCI Annual Forum, bilateral exchange visits and other activities to share lessons in managing research funds for maximum impact and to identify areas for future collaboration, such as joint research calls, as resources become available.

According to Dr. Dominique Charron, Vice-President, Programs and Partnership Branch at Canada’s International Development Research Centre, “with the largest population and economy in Africa, Nigeria’s participation expands the potential for the Science Granting Councils Initiative to achieve its goals of strengthening science systems and building alliances between science granting councils in multiple regions across the sub-continent and internationally.”

Executive Director, Strategic Partnerships at National Research Foundation-South Africa and SGCI Executive Committee Member, Dr Aldo Stroebel, added: “I am thrilled that Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) of Nigeria is joining the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI).

“This collaboration will allow us to work closely with the TETFund in advancing the Science, Technology and Innovation agenda in Africa.”

Speaking on FCDO’s involvement and the benefit to Nigeria, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ms Catriona Laing CB said: “Nigeria’s TETFund admission to the Science Granting Councils Initiative is a positive development that will better position Nigeria to maximise the commissioning and use of research for development, in line with critical national social and economic priorities.

“The UK champions the use of science to address global challenges, we are pleased to have supported the TETFUND to join the SGCI and will continue to work in partnership with them and other ministries, departments and agencies in Nigeria to better realise the benefits of science and research.”

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