– Stellenbosch University. Above: Inside Stellenbosch University’s library.

The African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Energy at Stellenbosch University (SU) is to benefit from large financial awards from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) made to universities forming part of ARUA. The programme is aimed at tackling global challenges such as disease, poverty, climate change, fragile states and food insecurity.

The awards being made through this research programme are a key part of UKRI’s three-year partnership with ARUA, developed through the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), to strengthen pan Africa-UK collaborations across all disciplines, mobilise excellence and build robust research ecosystems across Africa.

ARUA, launched in 2015, is a network of 16 research intensive African Universities from different countries and different historical backgrounds, with the common vision of enhancing research and graduate training in member universities through a number of channels, including the setting up of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) to be hosted by member universities.

SU’s ARUA CoE in Energy will receive R12 million over a 2 year period.

Says Dr Neill Goosen of the SU Department of Process Engineering and Director of the ARUA CoE in Energy: “The ARUA CoE in Energy at Stellenbosch University is very pleased to receive this grant. It will allow the Centre to identify and engage talented early career African academics, and help to establish a multidisciplinary African community of collaborators around renewable energy issues. As Africa develops and requires increasing amounts of energy to power its economies and societies, renewable energy will become ever more important. Building a strong community of researchers in the field and encouraging collaboration between disciplines, will ensure that Africa can create the new knowledge required to build its renewable energy sector”.

Adds Prof Wikus van Niekerk, Dean of the SU Faculty of Engineering: “The award is fitting recognition of the extensive expertise and research facilities at Stellenbosch University that will support the ARUA CoE in Energy. The ARUA CoE in Energy will be hosted in the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Study, arguably the most productive research centre focussing on renewable energy based at a university on the African continent.”

The ARUA CoE in Energy aims to develop renewable energy solutions to address challenges related to African water and food supply systems.

One part of the project will be to strengthen young African researchers’ capabilities through structured courses presented by SU’s acclaimed African Doctoral Academy, while the other part will create the opportunity to tackle real world problems through collaborative research projects with SU’s research partners.