Africa Research Chairs Initiative

Call for Expressions of Interest

OR Tambo Africa Research Chairs Initiative


The National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa in partnership with the Oliver and Adelaide Tambo Foundation, and supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, are pleased to announce the OR Tambo Africa Research Chairs Call for Expressions of Interest by African public research-intensive universities.



The OR Tambo Africa Research Chairs combine political, development and higher education objectives. They aim to honour a leading figure in the development of African unity; have a catalytic impact on the development of research infrastructure in recipient countries; and contribute to knowledge production and high end skills in alignment with African Union’s Agenda 2063 and Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA-2024). Through international and regional strategic partnerships, the Chairs will contribute to the development of long term mutually beneficial research collaborations on the continent.


The key objectives of the initiative are to:

  • Contribute to expanded research and innovation capacities in and for Africa, in alignment with AU Agenda 2063 and STISA 2024;
  • Attract and retain excellent researchers and scientists within Africa’s higher education system;
  • Contribute to Africa’s global research competitiveness while responding to the continent’s socio-economic needs;
  • Contribute to Africa’s career pathways for young and mid-career researchers, with a strong research, innovation and human capital development output trajectory; and
  • Honour and promote the legacy of OR Tambo, emulating his values of professional excellence, integrity, inclusiveness, honesty, humility and respect for human dignity.


It is the intention to establish an initial ten (10) OR Tambo Africa Research Chairs, restricted to 15 countries in the rest of the continent: Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, and Botswana, focused on research priorities (refer to framework and application guideline)identified by each host institution in conjunction with the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) in sub-Saharan Africa and the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) countries in particular, and in alignment with AU Agenda 2063 and STISA 2024. Shortlisted host institutions will then be invited to submit full proposals.


Call Documents

Please find attached a summary document on the initiative. Please view all documents related to this initiative and call on:


Ms Promise Shabangu

Professional Officer: Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence
+27 12 481 4386

Dr Nana Boaduo
Director: Research Chairs and Centres of Excellence
+27 12 481 4326


Application process

  • Application Phases: the application process will be managed using a two-phased approach:
    • Phase 1 Call for Expressions of Interest: Applicant African public research-intensive universities are encouraged to work together with their national public funding agency or science granting council (refer to framework and application guideline) in submitting the institutional expressions of interest. Each potential host institution can submit a maximum of three (3) Research Chair institutional expressions of interest with a maximum of two (2) nominated potential chair holders per expression of interest during this phase. Please note that South African institutions can work in partnership with African institutions, but are not the primary applicant.
    • Phase 2 Call for Full proposals: During this phase, each proposed Chair holder, from shortlisted institutions following the institutional expressions of interest, must submit a full proposal detailing the proposed research theme and activity plan for the duration of the Research Chair term (5 years). The latter application must be authored by the candidate in consultation with the university’s accounting officer (Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) responsible for research, Vice-Chancellor or equivalent).
  • The call for expressions of interest (phase 1) will open from 11/12/2018, and will close on 21/02/2019. The NRF Online submission system will be used to accept applications, and applicant institutions will be required to create a profile in order to be able to submit an application.


Guidelines for Application

  • Register on the NRF submission system if not registered before at (
  • Log in with username and password
  • Go to My Applications – Create Application
  • Click on the Apply button on the right of the relevant call
  • Please read the NRF Call Information Documents before you start with the application
  • Complete the registration details, contact details, details of proposal submitted for hosting of research chairs and the national alignment and the university background sections
  • Once the above mentioned sections have been completed, the Final Submit button will be activated
  • Click on Final Submit
  • This information will then be displayed in the application


Note: The following documents should be uploaded on the system by the applicant host institution:

  • The university’s research and innovation strategy;
  • Official indication that the institution is accredited to confer postgraduate degrees, as approved by the relevant authority;
  • Broad outline of proposed research theme (refer to framework and application guideline) as aligned to the expertise of potential chair holders;
  • Details of current academic and research staff of the university in total, and in the broad discipline;
  • Statistics on university research outputs and postgraduate students trained and graduated for the period 2012 to 2017;
  • Short bio(s) of potential chair holder(s). A university may submit up to two (2) names of potential chair holders;
  • Letter of support from public funding agency or science granting council (see framework and application guideline);
  • Details of Research Outputs – full details of the research outputs in support of the DVC/Head of Department’s numbers should be provided.
  • Details of Students – full details of the students in support of the DVC/Head of Department’s numbers should be provided.
  • DVC endorsement – Letter in support of the application.

All applications should be submitted by 15 March 2019 on the NRF Online Submission System (