Call for Applicants – Researchers; Science and Health Journalists and Communicators; and Science Advisers

The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa requires coordinated, responsive research as well as effective, evidence-based communication and science engagement.

The approximately USD4.75million COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund is a collaboration that aims to address research questions and support communities of science journalists and communicators on the African continent, in efforts to produce and disseminate coordinated science communication outputs that will allow readers access to factual information and analysis to inform their actions and challenge misinformation. The partnership, under the auspices of the Science Granting Councils Initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa (SGCI) includes the National Research Foundation  (NRF) South Africa, South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Fonds de Recherche du Québec (FRQ), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the Newton Fund, and the SGCI participating councils.

Scope of the COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund

The Rapid Grant Fund supports three strands in respect of research and science engagement:

  1. Research – covering a list of research areas on: the COVID-19 virus, prevention and control, the African health governance system, socio-cultural dynamics of transmission, science engagement, mental health, and vulnerability.
  2. Science engagement: Science and health journalists and communicators – covering a list of topics to support efforts to produce and disseminate coordinated science communication outputs that will allow readers access to factual information and analysis to inform their actions and challenge misinformation.
  3. Science engagement: Science advisers – a strand to support national African academies of science, African national Young Academies of Science and the INGSA Africa chapter to provide rapid science advice in support of regional and continental responses to COVID-19.


Eligibility Criteria

  • Researchers and science engagement practitioners from the following countries are eligible to apply: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and, in the context of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), Nigeria and South Africa.
  • For the Research Strand (1) and applicable only to Nigeria and South Africa, only ARUA member universities will be eligible to participate. Non-ARUA universities from South Africa and Nigeria may collaborate with ARUA members, and any other universities across the countries abovementioned to participate in this call. In the context of implementing the SGCI and to build on existing continental networks, this call is focused on ARUA universities who, through the ARUA Centres of Excellence Initiative and additional collaborative research initiatives, have collectively been working together with counterparts in the ARUA network to respond to COVID-19.
  • For the two Strands on Science Engagement [(2) and (3)], practitioners across all the 17 countries, including from Nigeria and South Africa may apply.


Applications must be submitted on the NRF Online Submission System at Applications should be submitted in English or French.

The framework and application guidelines, application templates, and additional call documents are available as follows:

Framework and Application Guidelines: COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund  Download Here




Peer review (research strand) and evaluation (science engagement strands) will be conducted in accordance with NRF policy.

Closing Date

17 June 2020


For programme/content related queries:
Thabo Dikgale
For technical and granting queries:
Mr Jan Phalane
Kholofelo Mampeule


Mpho Baloyi


Colleagues from science granting councils across the 15 SGCI participating countries can be contacted as per the list on Table 1 in the framework and application guidelines found here:

For more information and related queries by Zimbabwean researchers

  1. Timothy Marango
  2. Mr Courage Mpofu