Presidential fund to launch on Africa-focused STEM research

Meyer Gate.

Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer

3 min read

Harvard University announces a new gift from South Africa’s Motsepe Foundation, which will launch the Motsepe Presidential Research Accelerator Fund for Africa to advance groundbreaking research on key issues impacting the continent.

This gift will support faculty-led and student-driven science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research across Harvard’s Schools, exploring questions of crucial importance to the region. The Motsepe Foundation’s gift will significantly enhance Harvard’s contributions to the continent and strengthen the University’s relationship with Africa.

“At a time when leveraging Harvard University’s intellectual community for global benefit is more critical than ever, we are eager to accelerate the discovery, dissemination, and impact of vital research in and around Africa,” said University President Larry Bacow. “We are grateful for the generous donation from Patrice and Precious Motsepe, which enables Harvard to strengthen its work addressing key challenges and opportunities facing the continent.”

“As the momentum of transformation in Africa continues to advance, research focused on science, technology, and innovation is crucial”, added Wafaie Fawzi, interim Oppenheimer Faculty Director of Harvard’s Center for African Studies. “The Motsepe Fund is a wonderful opportunity to increase and deepen impactful research about Africa and foster collaboration between Harvard affiliates and our partners on the continent.”

The application portal will open to faculty on Oct. 1, 2020, and is intended to support faculty-led research projects that focus on advancing key challenges and opportunities facing Africa, including emerging technologies and the Fourth Industrial Revolution; climate change and its effect on health, agriculture, water, and sanitation; renewable energy and its benefit to infrastructure and society; health; aging; materials science, and the governance and policies needed for an entrepreneurial economy.

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research will oversee the fund with collaboration from the Center for African Studies. Vice Provost for Research Richard McCullough said: “Further expanding Harvard’s research portfolio in Africa is a top priority for the University. This fund offers critical support to those already working in these areas and an exciting opportunity for our faculty and students to forge new collaborations and develop novel research focused on the region.”

Founded in 1999 by Patrice Motsepe and Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the Motsepe Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life for all, including unemployed people, women, youth, workers, and marginalized communities in South Africa, Africa, and globally. The foundation believes that building strong partnerships and collaboration is the only way to enable change and drive transformation, and accordingly it has a regional, continental, and global footprint through collaborations with partners around the world.