The University of Zululand (UNIZULU) has recently launched the Africa Capacity Building initiative which is aimed at strengthening the research capacity of universities and research institutions in sub-Saharan Africa by supporting the development of sustainable research networks. Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the program will strengthen the current research thrust in nanotechnology at the University of Zululand which has gained national prominence. There will be skills transfer between the partner organisations through workshops and training programs in materials synthesis and characterization. UNIZULU’s Prof. Neerish Revaprasadu, a South African Research Chair (SARChI) holder in Nanotechnology was part of the consortium consisting of representatives from UNIZULU.
The consortium’s proposal titled ‘Developing Materials for Applications in Solar Energy’ was one of five projects funded by the Royal Society/DFID Africa Capacity Building initiative to the value of £ 1.25m for a period of five years. Prof Revaprasadu said: “The initiative will also allow postgraduate students to travel between partner universities. Overall the emphasis will be on cutting-edge, world class research in a very contemporary area of research.” He said the programme is for scientists who want to develop collaborative research consortia between scientists in sub-Saharan Africa and a research institution in the UK UNIZULU’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation said the objectives for the project are to facilitate sustainable multidisciplinary partnerships between research groups in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. “We want to produce a cadre of young, talented researchers through integrated PhD scholarships and shared supervision of post-graduate students between the UK- based and African consortia members,” said Prof Midgley.