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Grand Challenges Africa

Spurring Science Innovation,
Translation and Entrepreneurship
in Africa

Science Innovation Pathways | Science Innovation, Translation and Entrepreneurship Programme | Grand Challenges Africa



The Grand Challenges Africa (GC Africa) initiative seeks to promote Africa-led scientific innovations to help countries better achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by awarding seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. GC Africa supports big, bold impactful innovative ideas that have a potential for impact, scale and sustainability.

The focus for Grand Challenges Africa is not new academic research but impactful robust solutions and products from scientific research. GC Africa builds on the previous successes of local Grand Challenges initiatives and a strong base of African Grand Challenges grantees.

Grand Challenges Africa is part of the Grand Challenges family of initiatives, which seeks to engage innovators from around the world to solve science, technology and innovation, health and developmental challenges. Grand Challenges initiatives are united by their focus on fostering innovation, directing research to where it will have the most impact, and serving those most in need. The first phase of the GC Africa, started in 2017, was implemented at the African Academy of Sciences with the support of funding partners.

"It's important to bring all good minds to address important problems and Grand Challenges Africa has enabled researchers create research communities which enable scientists in the same field to talk, collaborate and learn from each other" Iruka Okeke Prof. Ibadan University, Nigeria

GC Africa

Drone Surveying Oilseed Crops to Help Farming Data

GC Africa's second phase is now managed and implemented by the Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation).

The challenge also encourages partnerships that bring together investigators from diverse organizations, including for-profit institutions, non-governmental organisations, academic and health research institutions, foundations, and civil society groups. We believe that there is no unilateral access to ideas.

Today, a variety of funding partners use "Grand Challenges" to accelerate research, creating an expanding network of funding and research partnerships spanning diverse topics. The Grand Challenges family includes, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, United States Agency for International Development, Grand Challenges Brazil, Grand Challenges India, Grand Challenges South Africa, Grand Challenges Ethiopia, Grand Challenges Botswana and Grand Challenges Africa.

Our Program Approach:
  • Identifying scientific priority areas: GC Africa brings together scientists, experts and stakeholders from different fields to map out priority areas that would need a concerted effort or solutions from African innovators.
  • Sourcing innovation: Develop, launch and manage Africa-specific Grand Challenges targeted to address issues of health and development that are preventing African countries from reaching the SDGs. Since its inception, GC Africa has announced 15 funding rounds/calls for proposals including : Maternal Neonatal Child Health (MNCH) in Africa; 2. Data science approaches to improve MNCH in Africa; 3. Innovation for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in urban settings; 4. New approaches to characterize the global burden of antimicrobial resistance; 5. Drug discovery; 6. Innovative solutions to achieve food security and nutrition targets in Africa.; and 7. Transition To Scale (TTS) grants (l and 2)
  • Providing follow-on funding: Support translation and scaling of promising Phase I grants, both from the existing portfolios and from new Phase I grants sponsored by Grand Challenges Africa. These promising ideas are funded through transition grants of up to $1 M scaling up innovations which have already received 5100,000 seed grants and that show promise of expansion and have applied for this additional scaling up funding.
  • Expand the Grand Challenges Network: Support other African countries to launch national or regional Grand Challenges initiatives that fund innovators to pursue health and development solutions that further both national and global priorities and expand the funding base. Country specific initiatives are Grand Challenge South Africa, Grand Challenges Ethiopia and Grand Challenges Botswana.
  • Build a cohort of scientists that work collaboratively to manage any ecosystem challenges that may arise during delivery of their projects. One of the projects towards this is GCAiN
Our Guiding Principles
  • Strategic and well-articulated grand challenges serve both to focus research efforts and to capture the imagination and engage the world's best researchers.
  • Opportunities for networking with: colleagues in the fellowship, partners, and strategic programmatic leads.
  • Projects are selected based on open transparent calls for proposals seeking the best ideas.
  • Funders, investors and other stakeholders actively collaborate to accelerate progress and integrate advances to ensure that these advances serve those most in need.
  • Projects and investigators make global access commitments to ensure the fruits of their research are available to those most in need.
  • Projects are selected not only for scientific excellence but also for the likelihood for them to achieve the desired impact and they are milestone-driven and actively managed to the end.
Ademonla Djalal Arinloye

Innovative climate-smart agricultural practices and knowledge scaling-up in vulnerable regions of Benin (INNOCSAB)

The project team will investigate to what extend climate-smart agricultural practices and knowledge scaling-up can contribute to building resilience of agro-ecosystems and human systems in West Africa...

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Barbara Zewede

Scaling-up Uptake and Effective Use of Climate Resilient Innovations to Address Challenges Affecting Youth-led Agribusinesses in the Chicken Value Chain in Uganda and Burundi

Barbara Mugwanya Zawedde of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) in Uganda and partners will facilitate increased uptake and effective use of climate resilient innovations to address challenges affecting youth-led agribusinesses in the chicken value chain in Uganda and Burundi...

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Deo Shirima

Climate Adaptation and Resilience: Rural Communities and Agro-Food Industries along Kilombero River Floodplains Landscape, Tanzania

A Research team at Sokoine University of Agriculture see to generate spatial explicit social, ecological, climatic, and land tenure/cover landscape data for the purpose of developing climate risks and opportunity models...

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Dessalew Yohannes Bogale

Establishing Multi-Model Agricultural Data Science Hub (MM-ADSH)

Climate change, drought, floods are some of the major challenges that agriculture in Ethiopia goes through. Farmers have always had to cope with variables beyond their control, from the weather to the rate of vegetation...

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Diariétou Sambakhe

An intelligent decision support for breeding future climate change resistant millet varieties in Senegal

Diariétou Sambakhe of the Regional Center of Excellence for dry cereals research (CERAAS) in Senegal will co-design an open-acces platform for knowledge sharing of annual ideotype maps of climate change resilient millet varieties in Senegal...

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Dinkorma Ouologuem

Identification of Plasmodium Falciparum Transmission Blocking Compounds

Université des Sciences, des Techniques et des Technologies de Bamako (USTTB)
South Africa



Elizabeth Kigondu

Research and Development of a Non-Hormonal Natural Product Based Female Contraceptive

Elizabeth V. M. Kigondu of the Center for Traditional Medicine & Drug Research (CTMDR), Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) is going to be exploring extracts and compounds from plants used traditionally in Kenya and reported to have a contraceptive effect... 

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Kwadwo Danso-Mensah

Kwadwo Danso-Mensah and the International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED)

aim to investigate the critical role of climate change adaptation inventions in mitigating climate change impacts on Africa's agricultural sector.

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Laurent Dembele
Lyn Marie
Margaret Ilomuanya

The cervical mucus barrier as a target for artificial neural network inspired novel blends of electrospun scaffolds

Margaret Ilomuanya of the University of Lagos in Nigeria will develop a non-hormonal approach to contraception in women focussing on the interaction of mucoadhesive electrospun scaffold with cervical mucus...

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Mutiat Ibrahim

Characterization of herbal bioactive for the development of spermicides for female contraception 

The use of fertility-regulating plants as method of contraception continue to play a significant role in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies despite the popularity of modern contraceptives...

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Thierry Ngoga

Enhancing Local Level Climate Adaptation Systems in Musanze District, Rwanda

GanzAfrica takes a systems level intervention to strengthen local adaptation capacities through a bottom-up, locally driven, multi-sectoral and youth centered approach.

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Zakari Ali

Diversifying Gambian diets for health and Environmental Sustainability (DiGES)

Zakari Ali of the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at LSHTM in The Gambia will identify and promote the consumption and production of underutilized crops that are more resilient to climate change, reduce environmental impacts, and have positive health attributes...

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