Virtual African-German Solar Energy Status Workshop: Funded research teams present themselves

On 28 January 2022, the grantees of 13 approved German-African cooperation projects presented the current status of their cooperation and possible plans for further cooperation projects in a virtual workshop.

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(08.02.22) In November 2019, the DFG organised a scientific symposium on solar energy in Lusaka, Zambia, together with its partner organisations in Zambia and Mozambique. In addition to participants from Germany, Zambia and Mozambique, scientists from Malawi and Botswana took part in the event. Promising discussions and joint project ideas developed during this exchange, but in order to prepare competitive project proposals, the researchers needed suitable financial support, such as the available DFG funding instrument “Initiation of International Cooperation”.

Thus, in March 2020, the DFG, together with its Zambian and Mozambican partner organisations, published a call for proposals for the initiation of international cooperation between scientists from Sub-Saharan Africa and Germany in the field of solar energy. 13 initiation projects of African-German research teams were approved within the framework of this call.

As part of the call, a central status workshop was held on 28 January 2022, where all grantees presented the progress and current status of their cooperation as well as possible plans for further cooperation projects. They were also given the opportunity to exchange ideas with their colleagues in topic-specific breakout sessions, to share their experiences during the initiation phase, and to network. The DFG then presented its funding instruments and advised the research teams on how they can obtain funding for their international cooperation projects. The workshop was enriched by a presentation by I.M. Dharmadasa, Professor of Applied Physics and head of the Electronic Materials and Solar Energy Group at Sheffield Hallam University, UK, on “Solar Energy for Sustainable Development, Poverty Reduction and Mitigation Effects of Climate Change”. The workshop concluded with an open exchange between funding agencies and researchers on the new realities of international scientific cooperation. The funding organisations were particularly interested in learning about the experiences and insights of the researchers during the twelve-month initiation phase in order to be able to adapt future initiatives even better to the needs of the scientific communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and Germany – especially in times of limited travel.

Prior to the Status Workshop on 28 January, the DFG had already invited the grantees on the African and German side to participate in a seminar on writing competitive project proposals. The training was organised and conducted by the International Office of the University of Cologne and proWiss (Consulting Services for Researchers) in close collaboration. During an intensive self-study phase and a three-day online course, the researchers were equipped with skills in drafting, writing and budgeting joint funding proposals according to international standards. Thanks to this comprehensive training and the twelve-month funding to establish their collaborations, the research teams should now be in a good position to jointly submit a competitive project proposal to the DFG.