Most African countries still do not prioritize research and development, despite its potential for resolving problems such as the continent’s food security and its heavy disease burden. The governments of Kenya and Ghana aim to change this by setting up national funding programmes to achieve high-quality research output.
Kenya’s government has committed 2% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to research. Its national research fund offers competitive grants to researchers in academia and the private sector. These financed 389 graduate-student fellowships in 2016 (see go.nature.com/2ji6lso) and 158 multidisciplinary or multi-institute research proposals (see go.nature.com/2rdduxv). In addition, 20 infrastructure development grants were awarded — to create centres for research into stem cells, cancer, fishing and food safety, for example.
Ghana’s government also intends to start its own national research fund, with a view to raising the money it spends on research to 1% of GDP. Last year it proposed investing the equivalent of US$50 million, pending parliamentary approval (see go.nature.com/2w140tn). It also plans to set up a National Science, Technology and Innovation Fund that is accessible to researchers and all potential inventors and innovators (see go.nature.com/2w2jjgl).
Proper management will allow these initiatives to serve as a model for progress in other African countries. Government officials, grant managers and scientists must ensure, for example, that funding is awarded on merit and released on time.
Nature 557, 166 (2018)