AREF Grant Writing Essential Skills Program in Africa

AREF Grant Writing Essential Skills Program in Africa

The African Research Excellence Fund (AREF) works to strengthen the health research capacity of scientists in sub-Saharan Africa who are working to address the major health challenges of the sub-region. AREF is calling for applications from active and emerging biomedicine/health researchers from sub-Saharan African countries to participate in its Grant Writing Essential Skills Program.

This entirely online program will take place in eight 3-hour sessions during the weeks of June 3, 2023 and July 29, 2024 . There will be a six-week break between the two parts of the program, during which you will be required to write a mini-proposal. This is an intensive program designed to produce tangible progress toward a grant proposal at the end of the program series. To achieve these goals, you will need to commit to completing the entire series and completing the additional work outside of sessions.

To fully benefit from this suite of programs, you must be at a stage in your research career where you are actively seeking independent funding, and may have secured smaller grants, but have not yet secured the large grant needed to support the independence of your research.

The series of programs

Program objective

The objective of the program is to enable talented early-career researchers in health or related fields from sub-Saharan African countries to acquire the skills necessary to develop their own research proposals and scholarships of the quality required to obtain competitive international, regional and national funding.

What the program will cover

  • Develop and express your unique research niche

  • Formulate a compelling research question

  • Understand donor requirements

  • Write in simple English

  • Write the different sections of a proposal

  • Main parts of a typical support request file / project description

  • Plan the project plan and budget for your proposal

  • Principles of collaboration and team management

  • Understanding and practicing peer review

  • Preparing for an interview for a research grant…

    What the program does not cover

    The program will not cover the following: how to obtain ethical approval for research; how to complete application forms from different donors; details of intellectual property management; the practice of communication in the field of research.

    Facilitators will use examples of real funding requests. However, they will not directly help participants write their own proposals.


    AREF does not finance participants' access to the equipment or Internet services necessary for their participation. We also do not reimburse you or your institution for other program-related expenses or any other form of per diem.

    Our expectations of participants


    You have to

  • Commit to participating in all online sessions for the duration of each of them. Attendance at all sessions is mandatory. Otherwise, participants will not receive a certificate of completion.

  • Participate in all sessions. These sessions are interactive and require
    your active participation. You will achieve the best results by participating fully in all activities and exercises.

  • Devote about an hour more each day to preparing for each session through readings and preliminary work/reflections.

  • Dedicate significant time during the six-week period between program sessions to write a draft of your own research proposal, which will then be used in the final three sessions.

    You should

  • Have access to good bandwidth and a computer or laptop configured to use the Zoom platform (the IT department can monitor your ability to use online platforms)

  • Be able to use a smartphone simultaneously with the Zoom platform.


    You will also be expected to participate in AREF monitoring and evaluation surveys to track results.


    AREF invites researchers who are actively working on human health challenges and who are trained and experienced in one or more of the following disciplines: biomedicine, physiology and pharmacology, clinical sciences, epidemiology, mathematics and statistics, environmental health, “one health” (veterinary science), behavioral sciences, mental health, public health, data science for health, social and economic sciences, and health policy and systems research to apply for this program.


    To be eligible, you must provide the following evidence

  • Be a national of a French-speaking African country and speak French fluently; Or

  • Be a national of an African country and have French as a mother tongue or speak French fluently), even if the candidate is not from or a national of a French-speaking country .

  • You are at the beginning of your research career, after having completed your research studies.


  • You have obtained a research doctorate (PhD/DPhil/MD) from a recognized academic institution, normally within the last 6 years, (i.e. awarded on or after January 1, 2018);

  • OR you hold a medical/clinical qualification PLUS a research-related master's degree, both normally obtained within the last six years (i.e. awarded on or after 1 January 2018) .

  • AND you are currently employed in sub-Saharan Africa by a recognized university and/or specialized research institution.

  • You have not previously participated in equivalent proposal development/grant writing training.

  • An important part of your role as a current employee is developing and conducting research in the healthcare field.

  • You do not already have a significant portfolio of international research grants (combined value of £250,000 or more).

    How to Apply

    For more information and job application details, see; AREF Grant Writing Essential Skills Program in Africa

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