GCRF Africa Catalyst Programme is now closed for applications.

The aim of GCRF Africa Catalyst is to strengthen professional engineering bodies in sub-Saharan Africa so that they can effectively promote the profession, share best practice and increase local engineering capacity, to help drive development.

This is supported by high-quality research focusing on expanding the evidence base for the importance of robust engineering institutions and the role they play in delivering sustainable growth, and mapping engineering capacity and diversity in sub-Saharan Africa.

The programme, launched in 2016, is funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). Between December 2016 and July 2017, the Academy supported 15 pilot projects with a wide range of objectives. Following evaluation of the pilot projects, Phase 2 was designed based on lessons learned. These projects were between 12 and 36 months long with total budgets between £30,000 and £300,000. The eight projects funded under Phase 2 began in December 2017. For details of these projects, please click here

Phase 3 of GCRF Africa Catalyst aims to galvanise, build on and scale up the previously successful activities like those funded in the Pilot Phase and Phase 2 of the programme. As with previous rounds of the programme, this round will aim to promote close collaboration between organisations in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK. To learn about the projects of Phase 3 awardees, please click here.




A cross-cutting objective for GCRF Africa Catalyst is diversity. It is a requirement for applicants who do not have a gender equality or diversity policy to include the development of such a policy in their project proposal and the Academy encourages diversity and inclusion to be considered in the project design. 


  • To create strong professional engineering bodies in the countries where grant funding is being administered 

A strong professional body is effective, self-sustainable, transparent and provides services to its members. It has good governance, leadership, financial management, policies and systems in place. The Academy is also looking to support professional engineering bodies that are working to meet international standards of engineering education and accreditation.


  • To identify how professional engineering bodies can best promote the profession and better understand the current engineering landscape in the benefitting countries

A research project is underway as part of the programme that aims to map the current engineering landscape, explore which interventions have the greatest impact, and build on existing research to evidence the role robust professional engineering bodies can play in driving social and economic national development.