GCRF Africa Catalyst: Capacity Building of Professional Engineering Institutes

Under its remit as a delivery partner for the Global Challenges Research Fund, the Academy is pleased to have launched this capacity building programme in September 2016.

GCRF Africa Catalyst offered grants of £40,000 to organisations supporting the engineering profession in sub-Saharan Africa. The Academy strongly encouraged models where those organisations are working in partnership with the engineering research, policy and business communities in the UK and sub-Saharan Africa. 

The Academy will support a wide range of short pilot projects to run between mid-December 2016 – mid-June 2017, with the intention to evaluate the result of different interventions. Lessons learnt and successful models will help shape the future of the programme. For any questions regarding this programme, please contact Louise Olofsson. 


The overarching aim is to ensure there is sufficient, and appropriately skilled, local engineering capacity to participate in and drive national and regional development in sub-Saharan Africa. GCRF Africa Catalyst helps achieve this by focusing on better connecting Professional Engineering Institutes (PEIs), Engineering Councils/Associations and other organisations working to strengthen engineering capacity, to the engineering research, policy and business communities. GCRF Africa Catalyst will support these organisations take a leadership role by working to ensure appropriate accreditation, professionalism and opportunities for engineers nationally and regionally. At this pilot stage, the Academy was looking for projects that are contributing to at least one of the objectives below. 

The programme’s objectives are to: 

  • Build engineering capacity by improving engineering education at all levels to meet recognised international standards.
  • Support the development of professional engineering institutions/councils/associations that can effectively support the profession and promote professionalism.
  • Support the Federation of African Engineering Organizations (FAEO) in its leadership role across the continent.
  • Strengthen the evidence base for the role robust engineering institutions play in driving development, such as mapping engineering capacity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Eligibility criteria

  • The suggested project should clearly align with the overall aims and objectives of the scheme, however, the Academy encourages original ideas and local solutions.
  • Project activities must include a budget of £40,000 delivered over a maximum of six months.
  • Pilot projects must run between mid-December 2016 and mid-June 2017.
  • Applicants must be not-for-profit organisations based in sub-Saharan Africa*.
  • The lead applicant must propose a means of collaboration with at least one partner based in the UK. A partner may also be considered as the UK institution if it is headquartered in the UK.

*For the purposes of the programme, the Academy consider the following 49 countries to be part of sub-Saharan Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

How to apply

The Academy is no longer accepting proposals for this programme.

Expert reviewers will score each submitted proposal and have the opportunity to ask further questions to applicants. All applicants should be expecting to answer additional questions between 21-25 November 2016.

Successful applicants will be selected on 28 November. Contracts will be sent out to awardees on Tuesday 29 November and the Academy will expect those to be signed and returned by Friday the 2 December.

On 21 October 2016, the Academy hosted a webinar on application writing, specifically tailored to GCRF Africa Catalyst. Please do feel free to watch a recording of the webinar, including a Q&A session for more information: