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IOP’s Africa-UK Physics Partnership Programme receives government funding

11 March 2024

Programme will build physics research and innovation capacity in seven sub-Saharan African countries to tackle global weather and sustainable energy challenges.


The UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has announced £10.33m of funding for the Africa-UK Physics Partnership Programme, a collaboration between STFC and the Institute of Physics (IOP).

The Africa-UK Physics Partnership Programme was developed in response to analysis by the IOP in 2019 which found that only around 5% of research programmes across sub-Saharan Africa involved physics. This was identified by the IOP as a critical issue, given the proven, wide-reaching benefits of strong international networks within physics research, especially in the fields of energy, climate, and weather.

To address this, the UK and seven African countries will work in partnership to build and sustain a skilled cohort of STEM graduates through activities such as network building and providing access to leading UK research facilities. The aim is to foster mutually beneficial UK-African collaborations to meet the future science, technology and policy challenges of climate change and sustainable energy.

Rachel Youngman, Deputy Chief Executive of the IOP, said: “We are delighted to hear that the UK government has committed to funding a new UK-Africa Physics Partnership Programme. The IOP has led a UK and African partnership coalition on the development of this programme over the last three years. The programme will build physics research and innovation capacity in seven sub-Saharan African countries and encourage stronger collaboration with physicists in the UK.

“The impact of climate change in Africa is visible with the devastating effect it is having on communities and livelihoods. Physics has a central role in finding solutions and in the UK we have much to learn from tackling climate change in Africa. But until now, funding for physics in African universities has been lagging behind other sciences and this has impacted capacity to undertake vital research and innovation.

“It is great news that physics is being recognised for the vital role it plays in climate, weather and energy solutions. This funding is going to support valuable opportunities for UK and African physicists to work on solutions and learn from each other.”

The programme is expected to significantly increase the capacity for advanced physics research in associated partner countries, developing a stronger foundation for global physics research.

Mark Thomson, Executive Chair of STFC, commented: “If we are going to continue to break ground in physics and answer fundamental questions such as how our universe evolved, we need to take an increasingly international outlook on how we approach research.

“This means coming together as an international community to develop research capabilities across the world and to build strong scientific networks to tackle the problems we all face.

“We know from international endeavours such as CERN that we can achieve tremendous things when we collaborate and support each other in the name of scientific discovery, and I’m proud to continue STFC’s work in this vein with the Africa-UK Physics Partnership Programme, which will help to advance physics research in Africa for all our benefit.”