AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowships Programme (VFP) 2024. AfricaLics – the African Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems – is looking for suitable PhD students from universities in African countries to participate in the AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowship Programme, (2024 cohort) focused on Innovation and Development.
Under this programme successful candidates will be provided with the opportunity to participate in a fellowship programme which ideally combines online pre- and post-activities with a study period of 3 months at University of Johannesburg (UJ) in South Africa. The three months’ study visit to UJ is, however, subject to availability of funding and interested students are expected to help search for funds to finance their study visit at UJ themselves (see section on funding issues).
Mentoring will be provided by a range of African and international scholars in Innovation and Development studies who are research active in AfricaLics and Globelics. The programme will also receive support from the Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Sustainable Development (TRCTI) Please see: https://www.uj.ac.za/faculties/cbe/SARChI-TRCTI.
The 2024 VFP cohort activities will kick off with a range of online activities starting in February 2024 and activities are expected to be completed by the end of November /early December 2024. Activities will include a brief introduction to I&D studies as the AfricaLics network identifies this field, a course on writing skills and a course on ‘How to write an Academic Journal Article as well as 3 – 5 Paper Presentation Seminars. Activities will be online, but if funds permit, a 3-month study visit to UJ will also be incorporated. After engagement in the programme, students are offered the opportunity to continue engaging with the AfricaLics community e.g. through participation in AfricaLics Alumni activities, AfricaLics research conferences and our webinar series. In this way, students and young scholars help each other stay engaged and get a chance to help develop the field of African Innovation and Development studies.
Within the AfricaLics community, innovation is broadly defined as spanning from “new to the world inventions” to the diffusion and use of technology new to the user or context in which it is introduced and includes competence building among users of innovation. Technology here can mean both a physical product; a new process e.g. for manufacturing a product and new way of doing or organising things. Innovation and Development Studies research as defined by the AfricaLics network includes the study and management of processes that link technological and social innovation with development. This includes studies and improved understandings of how learning and competence building systems contribute to development processes. For more info on the main thematic areas addressed by AfricaLics, please see: https://www.africalics.org/thematic-areas/.
Scholars in the field may have a background in economics and/or other social sciences (e.g. Sociology, Political Science, Science and Technology Policy, Geography, History or Development Studies), but some also work within the STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) subjects or even manufacturing. They work within a broad range of areas including energy and sustainable development/transformation, health, gender, agriculture, manufacturing and work organisation, big data and the fourth industrial revolution.
To understand more about the field of innovation and development and see if your work fits within this research area, please look at papers published in relevant journals including (but not only) the following: African Journal of Science, Technology, Innovation and Development; Innovation and Development; Research Policy; Journal of International Development; International Journal of Technology Learning, Innovation and Development; International Journal of Technology Management and Sustainable Development; Journal of Development Economics; Journal of Science and Technology Policy; Journal of Evolutionary Economics and Journal of Technological Forecasting and Social Change (see: https://www.africalics.org/innovation-and-development-studies-resources/).
On the AfricaLics Visiting PhD Fellowship Programme
Overall aim and organisation of the programme
The aim of the visiting fellowship programme and the scholarships is to help African PhD students working in the field of Innovation and Development to strengthen their academic/research qualifications; improve quality of their dissertations and prepare for a career in innovation and development either within academia or outside (e.g. in the private sector or in government/policy making).
The visiting fellowship programme does this by increasing the mobility and level of exposure of the PhD students to international knowledge in the field of innovation and development. The programme forms part of the efforts by AfricaLics to contribute to the development of a vibrant research community in Africa in this emerging and highly multidisciplinary field. The Swedish Development Agency, Sida (Stockholm), has provided for the visiting scholarships as part of the project Enhancing research capacity on Innovation and Development in Africa through the African Network on Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems (AfricaLics) – Phase II since 2015 and will continue to support the VFP also in 2024 although support will be at a reduced level.
The AfricaLics secretariat (hosted by the African Centre for Technology Studies) is responsible for the project with the AfricaLics Scientific Board providing advice on scientific matters and issues of strategic importance. The AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowship Programme 2024 is jointly organized by the AfricaLics secretariat and UJ’s DSI-NRF Trilateral Research Chair in Transformative Innovation, 4IR and Sustainable Development (herein referred to as ‘UJ-TRCTI’) in South Africa with support from the AfricaLics and Globelics scholars based at different universities, other relevant African and international universities active in the field of Innovation and Development. Mentors for the programme will be selected to ensure best possible match with the successful PhD visiting fellows.
Eligibility and selection criteria
The scholarship option is open to PhD students from countries classified by the OECD/DAC as low and lower-middle income countries in Africa whose studies – irrespective of sectoral discipline – focus on the relationship between innovation and economic, social or and environmentally sustainable development. Female PhD students are particularly encouraged to apply as AfricaLics endeavours to contribute to increasing the currently low number of female scholars in Innovation and Development research studies in Africa. Likewise, PhD students from low-income countries are particularly encouraged to apply as AfricaLics endeavours to increase research capacity in Innovation and Development in low-income countries in Africa.
Applicants must be enrolled as PhD students at African universities and must have completed their first year of PhD studies by December 2023. A maximum of four to six visiting scholarships are available in 2024, but final number of accepted visiting fellows will depend on the in-depth assessment of applications and funding availability. The visiting scholarship is complementary to the studies of the PhD students at their home universities and applicants must already have secured basic funding for their PhD studies from other sources (e.g. African governments, other organisations, self-financing). PhD students with an interest in the programme must commit to help fund-raising for a physical study visit to UJ e.g. through applications to their own home university or to organisations such as WARA (see https://www.westafricanresearchassociation.org/fellowships/warc-travel-grant/). The AfricaLics Secretariat will also intensify fundraising activities and post options for application for travel grants and stipends on its website and social media platforms to help students identify possible funding options.
The programme gives priority to students working on topics related to the research themes identified by the AfricaLics network as important to the future of Africa.
AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowships Programme (VFP) 2024 Study Period
The visiting scholarship provides successful PhD students with the opportunity to engage in several online activities including a course on writing skills and a course on ‘How to write an Academic Journal Article’ and up to 5 paper presentation seminars during the study period which runs from 1st February 2024 to 15th December 2024. During the study period, students will be offered the opportunity to participate in the AfricaLics PhD Academy, which takes place either in May or June each year and which is expected to be a physical event in 2024, but may turn into a virtual event, if fund-raising for a physical PhD academy are not successful.
As mentioned, the study period also includes a three-month study stay at UJ (Johannesburg campus) in South Africa. The study stay – which is subject to successful fundraising – is scheduled to take place from 1st September to 30th November 2024, but the exact timing will be communicated in due course.
The study period at UJ, if realised, will provide students with time off from duties in their home country to focus on consolidating and improving their research, analysing data collected from fieldwork and writing up articles or chapters for their PhD thesis. Students will also do presentations of their project work and benefit from interaction with other visiting fellows and PhD students working on innovation and development issues scholars at UJ-TRCTI. Funding allowing, we will organise for home supervisors and mentors to meet up with their students during a one-week VFP workshop in Johannesburg, where focus will be on tools for better PhD supervision and alignment of views between students, home supervisors on mentors on the direction that the work of each PhD student should take.
During the fellowship period, each student will be “matched” with one or two scholars with competences in the field in which the student is active. These matched scholars will act as mentors for the PhD visiting fellows. In this way, the AfricaLics Visiting Fellowship Programme help build research capabilities in the field of Innovation and Development drawing on internationally renowned scholars in the field. Final selection of mentors depends on the topic and background of successful applicants. Mentors for the 2024 will be volunteers from the AfricaLics and Globelics network but may receive a small remuneration for their participation in the AfricaLics VFP activities in 2024, if funding allows.
Mentors on the AfricaLics PhD VFP are not formal supervisors and hence full responsibility for the PhD study process remains with the PhD student and his/her supervisors from the university where the student is enrolled. This must be a university in Africa. Close interaction between the PhD student, home supervisor and the mentors are required to make sure the study stay contributes in a constructive manner to the studies of the PhD student. Hence, the PhD candidate must organize trilateral meetings and e-mail exchanges between the PhD student, the main supervisor from the home institution and the students’ AfricaLics designated mentors. Meetings will mostly take place through Zoom, but if the situation allows at least one meeting will be a face-to-face meeting as home supervisors and mentors visit their students in Johannesburg for in-depth discussions on progress made by the PhD student and discussions on research and research capacity building in the field of Innovation and Development in Africa more generally.
Participation in the AfricaLics PhD Visiting Programme should form part of the PhD workplan for each applicant, which typically will include various elements such as:
- Initial theoretical studies/taught courses and fieldwork in home country/country where the student is enrolled as a PhD student (first year must have been concluded by December 2023).
- Participation in online AfricaLics VFP courses and seminars (introduction seminar, writing courses, paper presentation seminars, and wrap-up activities).
- Participation in exchange or mobility enhancing programmes – this may or may not include a three-month study visit to UJ to focus on writing up thesis or articles that are part of the PhD thesis (as noted above this study visit is subject to fund-raising either by the student her- or himself or by AfricaLics).
- Participation in the 2024 AfricaLics PhD Academy (online or on-site, subject to funding). PhD candidates are responsible for applying for participation in the 2024 AfricaLics PhD academy subject to agreement with their home-supervisors, mentors and the AfricaLics PhD VFP academic coordinator. Students may also apply to participate in other PhD courses or academies such as e.g. those organised by our parent network, Globelics (see globelics.org).
- AfricaLics PhD visiting fellows are encouraged to work on and submit papers to up-coming relevant conferences such as e.g. the AfricaLics Conference 2024 and the Globelics conference 2025. Participation in such activities provides exposure to the wider Globelics/AfricaLics community. It is the responsibility of the PhD candidates themselves to apply for participation in such events and AfricaLics cannot promise to fund travel costs but may do this on a case to case basis if funding allows.
- Return to home country and continue work on PhD dissertation to finalize and submit according to rules and regulations at the university where the student is enrolled.
The visiting fellowship period includes both online activities before and after the three months of study visit to UJ, but we also encourage students to remain engaged with the AfricaLics network after the fellowship period as AfricaLics alumni and participants in AfricaLics events. Mentoring may continue on an informal basis after completion of the one-year programme ends, but this will be subject to agreement between the students and their mentors. Former participants in the AfricaLics VFP are listed on the AfricaLics website (see: https://www.africalics.org/vfp-alumni/). AfricaLics VFP alumni meet occasionally online or in connection with key events such as AfricaLics conferences.
Student requirements and Application Form
Applicants for the AfricaLics PhD visiting fellowship programme should:
- Be enrolled as a PhD student at a university in Africa.
- Have completed their first year of studies by December 2023
- Have a background (BSc, MSc etc.) within Economics, Sociology, Political Science, Science and Technology Policy, Geography, History or Development Studies. Applicants may also work within the STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) subjects or even manufacturing but from a social science perspective.
- Possess adequate skills in English (documentation may be requested).
- Be working actively on a subject relevant to the field of innovation and development as defined above.
- Submit a brief application of one page/500 words explaining their own background, motivation for applying and expected outcomes of participation in the AfricaLics PhD visiting fellowship programme
The application must be accompanied by the following documents:
- Brief outline of your current PhD project including PhD training plans (max. 5 pages)
- Curriculum Vitae – CV (including PhD courses attended so far)
- Letter of support from the main PhD supervisor confirming that the PhD student will have completed her/his upgrade/probation by end December 2023
- Letter of support from the University Administration at the university where the PhD student is enrolled
- Copies of academic certificates (copies of Bachelor and Master Certificates as a minimum)
- One writing sample (article or chapter) from current PhD program
You are NOT expected to submit a copy of your passport when applying for the PhD visiting fellowship programme. If you are offered the scholarship and the study stay at UJ materialises, you will be asked to handle any visa issues that may be relevant yourself. Collection of personal data will be kept at a minimum, stored safely and will not be used for any other purposes.
Applications with all relevant attachments should be forwarded to [email protected] by 23.00hrs East Africa time on 1st December 2023.
Applications not fulfilling the requirements above will not be considered, so please forward any questions you may have to [email protected] and you will be assisted.
Successful candidates will be notified by end of January 2024, following which they will be required to confirm their interest (sign study agreement form) and – later in the process – deal with any issues related to visa issues and access to South Africa.
Successful PhD candidates are responsible for ensuring that their passport is valid for the time they will be staying in Johannesburg in South Africa and for dealing with any issues related to legality of their stay in South Africa (letters of invitation will be forwarded). Details of how to apply for your visit visa in South Africa will be sent to successful candidates in due time.
Accommodation and workspace
If funding for the study visit to UJ is secured either by an individual participant in the 2024 VFP cohort or by the AfricaLics secretariat/network as part of collective fundraising efforts, the AfricaLics secretariat and staff at UJ will help organise accommodation during the study visit in Johannesburg. The accommodation will be near the business school campus of Johannesburg where the students will have their working space.
Additional information on terms and conditions
- Return flight costs from your nearest international airport (economy class) to Johannesburg may be covered by AfricaLics if collective fund-raising efforts for the study visit there are successful. The costs may also be covered by the students themselves if they are able to raise funds.
- Students must take out their own health insurance for the study period. Costs may be reimbursed by the AfricaLics secretariat if funding allows.
- If collective fund-raising efforts are successful, the visiting scholars will receive a stipend of app. $600 per month. This amount should cover all costs while in Johannesburg related to living expenses and travel around Johannesburg including to and from UJ campus. Students are encouraged to try to fund-raise for living costs while in Johannesburg themselves as we cannot guarantee that collective fundraising activities are successful.
- Joint courses and online mentoring activities will be covered by AfricaLics through the limited support from Sida that we will be receiving in 2024. Visit by home supervisors and mentors to Johannesburg for a PhD VFP workshop will only be realised if additional fundraising is successful.
- If AfricaLics accepts to fund the three-month study visit to Johannesburg, the scholarship will only cover costs related to the visit of the student her- or himself. Costs related to accompanying spouses, children or others are unfortunately not possible for the programme to cover. The scholarship does not cover costs of any additional travel in South Africa that the student may wish to undertake unless as part of selected and approved VFP activities.
Questions regarding the AfricaLics Visiting PhD Fellowship Programme and the call should be forwarded to: [email protected]
 University of Johannesburg (UJ), is one of the largest contact universities in South Africa from the 26 public universities that make up the higher education system. UJ is a diverse, inclusive, transformational and collegial institution, with a student population of over 50 000, of which more than 3000 are international students from 80 countries.