Overseas Development Assistance (ODA)

The Higher Education Partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa (HEP SSA) programme is awarded through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), a part of the UK government’s Official Development Assistance (ODA).

As such, collaborations supported by this programme must meet ODA requirements, and must:

  • Aim to promote the welfare and economic development of a country or countries on the DAC list of ODA recipients
  • Be designed to address a development need
  • Focus on a specific challenge affecting a developing country or region

For further guidance on ODA compliance, please follow this link.


Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund announced by the UK Government in late 2015 to support cutting-edge research that addresses the challenges faced by developing countries. Alongside the other GCRF delivery partners we are creating complementary programmes that:

  • Promote challenge-led disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, including the participation of researchers who may not previously have considered the applicability of their work to development issues
  • Strengthen capacity for research, innovation and knowledge exchange in the UK and developing countries through partnership with excellent UK research and researchers
  • Provide an agile response to emergencies where there is an urgent research need.

For further guidance on GCRF compliance, please follow this link.


Equality Act 2010

The Academy is bound by the Equality Act 2010. The Royal Academy of Engineering is committed to diversity and welcomes applications from women and other groups who are currently under-represented across engineering.


Programme Requirements

  • The suggested project should clearly align with the overall aims and objectives of the scheme; however, original ideas and local solutions are actively encouraged.  
  • Project activities must include a budget of up to £200,000 delivered over a maximum of two years.
  • Applicants must be a university in sub-Saharan Africa* and must not be currently receiving funding through the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Higher Education Partnerships in sub-Saharan Africa (HEP SSA) programme. Spoke partners and outgoing hub universities are welcome to apply.
  • The university must propose a formal 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.
  • The Academy encourages applicants to use a hub and spoke model which links the lead applicant university to other, spoke universities nationally and regionally to engage them in the project and share lessons.
  • The lead applicant will be a university in sub-Saharan Africa and must propose a means of collaboration with at least one industry partner, one UK institution (academic or industry) and at least three spoke universities nationally or regionally.
  • The university must complete a minimum amount of activities as set out below:
  • One knowledge sharing workshop per year
  • Must complete at least one industry and one university secondment
  • Engage at least one industry partner per year
  • Engage, formally one UK partner within the project
  • Must engage at least three spoke universities within the project
  • Include activities strengthening the hub and spoke institution's research and entrepreneurship capacity.


* For the purposes of the programme, the Academy considers the following 51 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, eSwatini, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Réunion, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


** For South African universities, a separate RAEng programme, Industry-Academia Partnership Programme is available. Universities and Industry in South Africa are welcome to partner as spoke and industry partners.