Through its project, Harnessing Science, Technology and Innovation to Address Africa’s Challenges, IAP is collaborating with the African Science Leadership Programme (ASLP), an initiative of the University of Pretoria and the Global Young Academy, to identify and equip emerging science leaders in Africa with immersive science policy training. The Africa Science Policy Fellowship Program consists of fellowships of four to six weeks, undertaken between April and July 2019, at policy-active organisations.
This opportunity fills a demand for short, intensive exposure to policy development and implementation: other types of fellowship or detail opportunities, such as those offered by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union’s Department of Human Resources, Science & Technology, are typically lengthier and/or aimed at graduate and early post-graduate levels. Many early- and mid-career researchers interested in policy lack the financial support and institutional connections needed to pursue an extended immersive science policy experience.
Each fellowship placement is designed to be mutually beneficial to both the fellow and the host: the positions have been tailored to the goals of the fellow and the needs and opportunities at the host organisation. Fellows gain insights and experience in bringing science to bear on policymaking; and host organisations benefit from having some of Africa’s best young scientists devoting concentrated periods of time to critical projects and issues.
The inaugural fellowship cohort includes scientists from seven African countries and represents a broad range of academic disciplines. But transcending this diversity is a shared goal of gaining personal experience in bridging the divide between scientists and policymakers to function as multipliers of knowledge upon return to their home institutions. The majority of the 2019 fellows also attended a workshop co-hosted by IAP and ASLP, which provided a solid science policy skills foundation to build upon during their fellowships.
The Fellowship program kicked off in April as Dr. Fridah Erastus and Ms. Gosaitse Tubatsi began their work on the policy translation team at the Ifakara Health Institute (IHI) in Tanzania. Together, they have been evaluating IHI’s current scientific policy engagement process, identifying best practices, and developing actionable recommendations for the institute.