We believe science and innovation will be central to tackling major societal challenges and delivering sustainable development for our continent. Our 2023-2027 strategic plan outlines how we will contribute towards a strengthened African science and innovation ecosystem.
We believe that scientists and innovators are key actors in driving interventions to address Africa's most pressing challenges. We therefore aim to become trusted partners, providing holistic support to African scientists, innovators and their institutions working across discovery, translational and implementation sciences.
SFA Foundation serves Africa’s research and innovation ecosystem in two key ways:
We serve the African research ecosystem by designing, funding and managing programmes that support excellent science and innovation; and that build and reinforce environments that are conducive for scientists to thrive and produce quality research that impacts development.
SFA Foundation to be the leader in strengthening African science for a better future in a global world.
To catalyse and strengthen Africa’s science and innovation ecosystems to respond to Africa’s sustainable development challenges and positively impact lives.
We embody respect as a fundamental principle. We commit to uphold the dignity of all our constituents, their qualities and achievements and their right to apply their abilities to supporting science and innovation in Africa. We strive to be empathetic in our dealings with our colleagues and others and recognise that each individual role is important.
We strive for excellence, from quality science outputs to best governance practices; we push ourselves and our partners to aim for the highest standards in everything we are doing.
We embody diversity, equity and inclusion in everything we do by bringing everyone along the journey. We are committed to mainstreaming diversity, equity, and inclusion and cascading this to all the institutions that take part in our programmes. We ensure a level playing field and empowerment for all organisations and individuals engaging with SFA Foundation and in all our external interactions.
We are answerable for our individual and collective actions to our grantees, partners, and beneficiaries of our investments. We take responsibility and ownership towards clearly defined goals. We uphold high levels of integrity and will strive to ensure that we remain accountable to all.
Our goal is to strengthen pan-African-defined science priorities,to support globally competitive research, to enable dignified and sustainable science careers on the Continent, to strengthen high-quality research environments, to support scientific innovation, and to promote actionable scientific excellence in the policy, knowledge and practice arenas.
We do this by leveraging thought leadership, productive partnerships, and networks to mobilize resources for investments in long-term science and innovation programmes on the continent.
SFA Foundation’s support to Africa’s scientists and innovators will be driven by a dual aim: to improve the quality and productivity of science on the continent and to develop globally competitive science leaders. .
Leveraging innovation across Africa and recognizing the critical role of government and private sector actors in driving a robust STI sector, we are keen to support the creation of products that respond to the challenges within African communities.
We will support initiatives that directly influence the quantity, quality, and impact of research, but are not part of specific research projects.
As we implement our five-year strategy, it’s become imperative that we distinctly categorise our programmatic work for uniformity and to align with our strategic direction. We have defined eight broad science areas, under which our 10 programmes (and > 20 initiatives) sit and are anchored. In turn, the programmes — broad areas of science and innovation that directly address the three thematic areas of SFA Foundation — will exist for a long time until the challenges driven by science and innovation R&D are no longer of concern. Under each programme are initiatives which are unique, progressive endeavours designed to produce tangible or intangible results or a unique product, service, benefit, competitive advantage, that reach impact areas defined in the overall SFA Foundation organisational strategy i.e., People, Products, Practices, Policies, and Partnerships.
Africa has 17 percent of the world’s population but accounts for 25 percent of the global burden of disease. While infectious diseases still account for at least 69% of deaths on the continent, there is a rise in non-communicable diseases creating a multiple burden of disease that has amounted to a loss of more than $2.4 trillion international dollars from the Africa’s gross domestic product value annually (WHO, 2019).
Noncommunicable diseases have also overtaken infectious diseases as the largest drain on productivity, accounting for 37 per cent of the disease burden while other causes for lost healthy years are communicable and parasitic diseases; maternal, neonatal and nutrition-related conditions; and injuries.
The SFA Foundation builds and supports programmes aiming to reduce the health burden, to promote transdisciplinary research on the nexus of health and food and nutrition, energy, climate change, environment, political economy and public policy. Driven by emerging priorities on the continent, our work spans pandemic sciences, communicable and non-communicable diseases, genomics, clinical research and trials.
Despite contributing little to its causes, Africa and LMICs are disproportionately vulnerable to the consequences of climate change as they are situated in the world’s warmest regions, are heavily reliant on natural resources, and have limited capacity to handle climate extremes.
These vulnerabilities, compounded by inequalities linked to gender, ethnicity, and income, converge into a ‘perfect storm’ of climate-driven infectious disease challenges; another reminder that the climate crisis is a health crisis (Nature Microbiology, Tufet et al 2023). Africa’s immediate need is to build climate resilience in agriculture, water, energy, biodiversity which are all heavily affected and exacerbated by rapidly spread of infectious diseases.
The Science for Africa Foundation is pioneering efforts creating platforms and networks of excellence across climate, one health, and biodiversity where research careers can flourish to advance the climate challenges for Africa and globally. We aim to promote African scientific leadership in climate and environmental science and to bring the best of Africa’s science together to collate and assess the evidence for regional governments to support informed decisions with a vision to have Africa’s climate change science represented in global discussions on priority actions for the continent.
About 278 million people in Africa suffer from chronic hunger, which represents 20 % of the continent's population (ILRI, 2022) as climate change impacts productivity and domestic food price inflation remains high. The impact is that 9 million people die yearly worldwide due to hunger and hunger-related diseases, which is more than from AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. Pregnant women, children, and teenagers are affected by hidden. In Africa, the hunger crisis has resulted in malnourished children who die young and have physical and mental development delays and disorders.
Additionally, food insecurity indirectly impacts health outcomes and contributes to poor mental and physical health including higher or lower blood cholesterol levels and iodine, iron, and zinc deficiency, among others.
The SFA Foundation aims to leverage science and innovation by supporting researchers to uncover innovative pathways, interventions and techniques that optimise agricultural output while enhancing resilience and adaptation and promoting food security that will lead to better health outcomes.