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The International Development Research Centre and the Swedish International Development Agency invite proposals from qualified institutions to manage the African Artificial Intelligence for Development Scholarships program. The host institution will design and administer a scholarships program that will foster the talent needed to meet a growing demand for responsible Artificial Intelligence for development research and innovation in African public universities. The African AI4D Scholarships program will provide support to the next generation of AI and related disciplines (such as machine learning) academics, practitioners and students who are focused on responsible AI innovation for sustainable development. The deadline for submission of the proposal online is 23:59 EST on December 8, 2020.
November 9, 2020
Call for proposals release date
December 8, 2020
Proposal submission deadline
December 18, 2020
Eligibility and requirements
The goal of this call is to identify a program and financial manager for the AI4D Scholarships program.
The host institution will design and administer a scholarships program that will foster the talent needed to meet a growing demand for responsible Artificial Intelligence for development research and innovation in African public universities. Support will be directed to students in eligible LLMICs in sub-Saharan and Western Africa.
This call for proposals is open to established institutions from eligible countries across Africa, with demonstrated ability and a track record to manage scholarships and/or grants, and to convene researchers from other countries in Africa and the Global South.
To be eligible, institutions must:
- Possess past or current experience in administering large (multi-year and/or multi-component) scholarships or grants in Africa;
- Possess relevant expertise and experience in marketing and communications for the scholarships and complementary activities, including capacity to publicize the African AI4D Scholarships Program in public universities across Africa;
- Be committed to academic capacity building in Africa;
- Be based in an eligible country*;
- Be legally registered in the country of operation;
- Have and provide audited financial statements;
- Have the capacity to work in English and French;
- Have a Board of Directors and a chief executive that is accountable to the Board;
- Have capacity to convene researchers from across eligible African countries;
- Be a non-governmental, non-profit independent organization (including universities); and
- Not depend exclusively on government for funding.
The purpose of this call is to identify a host institution who will administer the financial, administrative and programmatic design of the African AI4D Scholarships Program. The institution should have some capacity to work in French and English, experience designing complementary activities, and in managing similar scholarship programs in the past.
As part of the application, recipients are requested to submit a proposal that would outline a prospective approach to managing and administering the scholarships.
The full scope and requirements for these activities are communicated in the full Call for Proposals Document. For a better understanding of the vision of the AI4D program and the role of the scholarships program in fostering talent and capacity, we encourage all applicants to review the original AI4D Africa program proposal to understand the bigger picture of the initiative.
AI4D PhD Scholarships: Support PhD research and complementary activities to help graduate students develop professionally, and connect with their cohort to form scientific communities & networks.
The scholarships program should be delivered through a competitive selection process that supports at minimum 12 PhD students in AI, ML, or related degrees (such as informatics and computer science) who are completing their studies in public universities in Africa. These students should be pursuing responsible AI research that intersects with research relating to the SDGs or other public priorities in Africa.
- Eligible recipients are high achieving graduate students who are citizens of an eligible African country;
- At least 50% of the recipients to be supported should be women;
- Approximately 50% of the selected recipients should be from French-speaking countries and/or French speakers (and encourage other linguistic minorities);
- Selection should prioritize a diverse geographical spread with a clear focus on recipients from Low and Lower Middle Income Countries (LLMICs) in West and sub-Saharan Africa. The program should also consider prioritizing support for recipients who demonstrate increased financial need; and
- All research supported through this scholarship program must follow rigorous research ethics protocols (see this example) and apply an appropriate gender lens to the proposed activities.
- The scholarship design should draw upon research on supporting women in STEM fields.
Advanced Scholars Program: Support the success of early career academics to develop responsible AI research projects and support the engagement of Masters and PhD students in those labs, as well as creating links between projects to add value in an aggregate way.
The AI4D Advanced Scholars Program is eligible to only early-career academics in eligible African public universities. Over the duration of the program, support will be provided to at minimum 8 early-career academics.
IDRC defines an early career academic as a person working in academia and/or research who has completed their PhD within the last 5 years, or who have had extenuating life circumstances such as starting a family or care-giving that have limited their professional progression such that they could still be considered an early career academic.
- Eligible recipients must be citizens of an eligible African country;
- At least 50% of the recipients to be supported should be women; and
- Approximately 50% of the selected recipients should be from French-speaking countries and/or French speakers (and encourage support to other linguistic minorities).
- Selection should prioritize a diverse geographical spread with a clear focus on recipients from Low and Lower Middle Income Countries (LLMICs) in West and sub-Saharan Africa.
- The project proposals submitted by the AI4D scholars must have a responsible AI4D research agenda that addresses sustainable development challenges in Africa or other public priorities and include inbound scholarship opportunities for graduate students and postdocs. The projects must include an appropriate gender and inclusion lens. Furthermore, the research discussed in the proposal must be for a minimum length of two years.
- The scholarship design should draw upon research on supporting women in STEM fields.
Complementary Activities and Support: The design of these activities should support the scholarship recipients in achieving academic and research success in connecting diverse themes, liaising with industry, and advancing the field of responsible AI.
Examples of complementary activities could include, but are not limited to:
- an annual orientation program for each cohort of advanced scholars and graduate students;
- an open-access publication series highlighting the projects receiving funds;
- seminar series and/or conferences that help the winning academics and graduate students present their work to their peers and the public;
- a website highlighting the recipients and their work;
- development of additional grants to support further research in participating institutions;
- a support and mentor network;
- activities that support safe, inclusive, and harassment free spaces;
- supporting an alumni network for continued collaboration opportunities with past recipients of the African AI4D Scholarships program; and
- development of a new research scholarships program or reinforcement of an existing one that continue beyond the lifetime of the two scholarships.
The Scholarships Manager will be responsible for the activities below.
Designing and administering competitive calls for both the AI4D PhD Scholarships and the AI4D Advanced Scholars Program:
- Designing, marketing, and launching the calls (according to the requirements outlined in the call document);
- Managing the selection process, including the recruitment and management of an expert review committee to support selection of the scholarship recipients; and
- Managing communication with all applicants, and final selection.
- Set up, and day to day management of the African AI4D Scholarships program over the project duration;
- Capacity to work in English and French;
- Designing and administering complementary activities to support the academic success and thought leadership of scholarship recipients;
- Supporting ongoing communications and marketing activities about the scholarship cohorts, in collaboration with other AI4D program activities;
- Manage meetings with donors;
- Monitoring and evaluation of the program;
- Reporting to IDRC as required; and
- Ensure that recipients adhere to IDRC policies on open access, and that the work of the recipients is delivered in line with IDRC’s mandate and AI4D’s overall program objectives.
Financial management and administration:
- Disbursing funds to scholarship recipients;
- Providing regular financial reports; and
- Supporting annual auditing requirements.
Central African Republic*
Democratic Republic of the Congo*
Republic of the Congo
Sao Tome and Principe*
* Applications from organizations based in these countries are eligible; however, such applications may be subject to a further stage of review within IDRC before these can be approved.
How to Apply
Proposals will be submitted via baobab.ai4d.ai. You will need to create an account, which will allow you to access your application as many times as you need until you decide to submit. You will also need additional information and documentation to complete the proposal, including examples of relevant work and the CVs of your proposed management team.
The proposal and all requested supporting materials must be submitted through baobab.ai4d.ai no later than
23:59 EST December 8, 2020.