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Malawi launches national Grand Challenges Initiative

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Gift Kadzamira, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST Malawi) delivers the opening address at the launch of Grand Challenges Malawi at the Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe, Malawi on 30 August 2023. PHOTO | Davies Mbela | SFA Foundation Corporate and Science Communication Department.

Lilongwe, Malawi, 30 August 2023

Malawi Launches National Grand Challenges Initiative

To accelerate innovation and trigger sustainable solutions that will have a lasting impact on Malawi’s development, the National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) Malawi in conjunction with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) and Science for Africa Foundation (SFA Foundation), have today launched Grand Challenges Malawi in Lilongwe, Malawi.  

Grand Challenges (GC) is a funding mechanism that awards seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s most impressive solutions. The model has been replicated in Africa with the establishment of Grand Challenges Africa, an initiative of the SFA Foundation, which awards seed and scale-up grants to the continent’s bold innovative ideas and is the overarching arm for country specific Grand Challenges that have been established in Botswana, Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, and Rwanda. Malawi becomes Africa’s sixth addition to the GC family.  

Gift Kadzamira, the acting Chief Executive Officer of the Malawi National Commission for Science and Technology said, “The Grand Challenges initiative has come at the right time for Malawi. We are in the process of aligning our homemade solutions to the Malawi Roadmap for Development (Mw2063) tapping into the priorities in our National Research Agenda. Utilising available international investments, among others, we aim to conduct groundbreaking collaborative research and finance innovations that will provide answers to the numerous challenges faced by our continent and the world at large.” 

To safeguard the success of this process, cross-learning and collaboration between NCST Malawi, and partners such as AUDA-NEPAD and SFA Foundation is fundamental. A collaborative planning meeting took place in July which fostered cross-learning and provided an opportunity to share best practices in preparation for the launch. During this convening, NCST Malawi highlighted critical support areas required from partners in accelerating investments in Science, Technology and Innovations (STI) and ensuring the success of the Grand Challenges in the Malawi context. The launch event will be a highlight of ongoing work across these partner organisations. 

“The Grand Challenges stands as a powerful catalyst to creating an enabling environment for innovative financing mechanisms that guarantee enduring support to STI in the African continent. It is therefore imperative to recognise Grand Challenges as an irresistible magnet, captivating engagement and nurturing the growth of science leaders. This initiative possesses the transformative capacity to amplify the quantity, quality, and productivity of science, paving the way towards a brilliant future for the continent”, mentioned Prof. Aggrey Ambali, Senior Advisor for the Office of Science, Technology, and Innovation at AUDA-NEPAD. 

The launch of Grand Challenges Malawi marks an important milestone in the journey towards building a better future for all. With the launch, Malawi can catalyse partnerships that foster innovation. Additionally, the Grand Challenges Malawi launch will provide a platform for rich discussions to occur while serving as an opportunity to draw on insights and feedback from various stakeholders. By empowering and nurturing innovation in Malawi, the aim is to create a legacy that fuels future generations with the spirit of positive change.  

“Our innovators are the architects of a better tomorrow, and their innovations will not only address local challenges but will resonate universally. Grand Challenges Malawi beckons us to embrace the audacious, to dream beyond boundaries, and to champion the cause of science for the betterment of our people, our continent, and the world at large. Together, we embark on this extraordinary expedition, fueled by the unyielding belief that our innovators hold the power to transform lives, uplift communities, and leave an indelible mark on the legacy of African innovation," said Prof Tom Kariuki, Chief Executive Officer, SFA Foundation. 

We invite individuals, organisations, and partners to join us in this collaborative endeavor, understanding that together we can create a ripple effect of transformative solutions that will drive Malawi forward.  

The Minister of Education, Hon Madalitso Kambauwa-Wirima launched Grand Challenges Malawi on Wednesday, 30th August 2023, at the Bingu International Conference Centre (BICC). 

About the SFA Foundation  

The SFA Foundation is a pan-African, non-profit and public charity organisation that supports, strengthens, and promotes science and innovation in Africa. The SFA Foundation serves the African research ecosystem by funding excellent ideas in research and innovation; enabling interdisciplinary collaborations and building and reinforcing environments that are conducive for scientists to thrive and produce quality research that generates new, locally relevant knowledge. SFA Foundation is proud to partner with NCST Malawi and AUDA-NEPAD to support the launch of GC Malawi as part of the African government’s national launches of Grand Challenges.  

 As one of the flagship programmes of SFA Foundation, Grand Challenges Africa supports big, bold impactful innovative ideas that have a potential for impact, scale, and sustainability. GC Africa awards bold projects through seed and scale-up grants that can provide the continent’s most impressive solutions. Each GC initiative is an experiment in the use of locally defined priorities by supporting translational pathways that can move early-discovery innovations to attain and make social and economic impact for all.   

About the African Union  

The African Union spearheads Africa’s development and integration in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens. The AU Vision is to accelerate progress towards an integrated, prosperous, and inclusive Africa, at peace with itself, playing a dynamic role in the continental and global arena, effectively driven by an accountable, efficient and responsive Commission.  

About the AUDA-NEPAD  

 The African Union Development Agency - NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) was established in 2018 as part of the global reforms geared at improving the African Union’s impact and operational efficiency.  

About NCST Malawi 

The National Commission for Science and Technology (NCST) was established by the Science and Technology Act Number 16 of 2003, to advance Science and Technology issues in Malawi. The mandate of the Commission is to advise the Government and other stakeholders on all Science and Technology matters in order to achieve a science and technology led development. 


SFA Foundation 
Davies Mbela I [email protected] I +254726604720 

National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) Malawi 
Catherine Chaweza I [email protected] I +265999873318 

Nqobile Zwane I [email protected] I +27736021448