Skip to content

Royal Society-FCDO Africa Capacity Building Initiative

This programme is for scientists who want to develop a collaborative research consortium between scientists in sub-Saharan Africa and a research institution in the UK.

The scheme is closed and will not reopen for further applications.

Below you can find more information about the achievements and learnings from the programme, as well as more details about the research consortia funded by ACBI.

Meet the consortia in this programme

  • Martin Broadley

    Soil geochemistry to inform policy

    This consortium of researchers in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and the UK is working on strengthening African capacity in soil geochemistry to inform agricultural and health policies.

    Find out more
  • Christos Markides

    High performance solar power systems

    This consortium of researchers in South Africa, Mauritius, Nigeria and the UK is working on harnessing unsteady phase-change heat exchange in high-performance concentrated solar power systems.

    Find out more
  • Jonathan Lloyd

    West African forest islands

    The consortium of researchers in Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and the UK is working on the science underpinning the West African forest island phenomenon.

    Find out more
  • Jon Lovett

    Biomass for power generation

    This consortium of researchers in Republic of Congo, Uganda, Tanzania and the UK is working on solar treatment of biomass for power generation using carbon slurries in hybrid renewable energy systems.

    Find out more
  • Kate Parr

    Animals in soil ecology

    This consortium of researchers in Gabon, Ghana, South Africa and the UK is working on unraveling the role of animals in African soil ecology.

    Find out more
  • Nora de Leeuw

    New materials for sustainable energy

    This consortium of researchers in Namibia, Botswana, Ghana and the UK is working on new materials for a sustainable energy future by linking computation with experiment.

    Find out more
  • Paul Bates

    River hydraulics and morphology

    This consortium of researchers in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, South Africa and the UK is working on a project on the Congo River hydraulics and morphology.

    Find out more
  • O'Brien rolodex

    Materials for solar cells

    This consortium of scientists in South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and the UK is working on developing materials for applications in solar cells.

    Find out more
  • Taylor rolodex

    Urban water supply and sanitation

    This consortium of scientists in Kenya, Senegal, Uganda and the UK is working on sustaining low-cost, urban water supply and sanitation systems in Africa.

    Find out more
  • Mokaya rolodex

    Porous materials for sustainable energy

    This consortium of researchers in South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon and the UK is working on capacity building in porous materials research for sustainable energy applications.

    Find out more
AHM Dar es Salaam
RS-FCDO ACBI Award Holders Meeting, Dar es Salaam – April 2017

Achievements and learnings

The Royal Society commissioned a series of case studies to highlight some of the most important lessons from this pilot programme. 

Scientific Achievements (PDF)

Industry Engagement (PDF)

Multidisciplinary Partnerships (PDF)

Research Uptake: Water and Sanitation (PDF)

Research Uptake: Renewable Energy (PDF)

Access to Consortia Resources (PDF)

Individual- and Organisational-level Research Capacity Strengthening (PDF)

Funder Practices in Supporting Research Capacity Strengthening (PDF)

Throughout the programme the Centre for Capacity Research (CCR) at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine has been embedded in the ACBI programme as an Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) partner. Their work has resulted in advancing our knowledge about how research capacity strengthening works best. To learn about their findings please see the below case studies:

PhD Pathways Case Study (PDF) 

Research Laboratory Capacity Case Study (PDF) 


The overall aim of the scheme is to strengthen the research capacity of universities and research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa by supporting the development of sustainable research networks.

The objectives are to:

  1. Facilitate sustainable multidisciplinary partnerships between research groups in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK
  2. Strengthen research and training capacity in sub-Saharan African Institutions of Higher Education through the skill transfer between partner organisations of the research consortia
  3. Support a cohort of young, talented researchers through integrated PhD scholarships and shared supervision of post-graduate students between the UK-based and African consortia members
  4. Evaluate the contributions of the Africa Initiative to supporting universities and institutions in Africa to develop sustainable research and research training capacity

The scheme provides funding towards PhD studentships, research expenses, travel and subsistence costs, training, and limited funds for equipment. 

Read more about how PhD students are supported by the Africa Capacity Building Initiative.

The scheme is funded with UK aid from the UK government.

Who was eligible to apply?

Applicants could apply for this scheme if they were based in one of the eligible sub-Saharan African countries or the UK.

Applications were accepted in three research priority areas:

  • Water & sanitation
  • Renewable energy
  • Soil-related research

What is the scheme’s value and tenure?

Programme Grants provide support for Research Consortia, consisting of three African groups and one UK-based research group.

The Programme Grant may provide support of up to £1,243,000 over a five year period.

What was the application process?

UKaid logoThis programme is funded with UK aid from the UK government.

Applications to the programme grants were initially reviewed by three members of the Royal Society-FCDO Africa Capacity Strengthening Initiative panel. Shortlisted applications were independently peer reviewed and discussed at a panel meeting.

Was this page useful?
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback. Please help us improve this page by taking our short survey.