Research Grant Writing and Administration in an African Context


By Nan Warner

A number of senior members of the Open AIR Network – including UCT’s Prof Caroline Ncube, Dr. Tobias Schonwetter and Ms Nan Warner – participated in the Nigerian National Workshop on Research Grant Writing and Administration, hosted by Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo Campus, Lagos, on 13 and 14 February 2018.

Nigeria has 40 Federal Universities, 44 State Universities and 74 private Universities, all approved by the Nigeria Universities Commission. This is a truly impressive number of universities, but it has proved challenging to provide the capacity to so many academics that is required to allow them to successfully attract research funding, both local and international. This is closely linked to the need for university resource persons who are specialists in the complexities of research grant-writing and grant management.

Thus the audience included researchers, academics, post-graduate students, and university administrators at all levels. Education policy makers and representatives of funding agencies were also present.

The Workshop addressed the following essential components of Research Grant Writing and Administration:

  • Grant Writing: From Conception, Process and Execution
  • Grant Writing: Partnership, Collaboration and Interdisciplinarity
  • Grant Management/Administration: Institutional and Human Resource Challenges
  • Crafting Winning Research Budget: Fundamentals
  • University-Industry Relations in the Era of Innovation Hubs: Managing Expectations, Optimizing Opportunities
  • Research Ethics Certification and Administration: Best Practices
  • Funders’ Experience and Contextual Reality of African Research

All sessions comprised a facilitator and a number of panellists. Each panellist gave a 5-minute perspective and the session was then opened up for questions and answers. Many interesting, insightful, and challenging questions and opinions were expressed.

In conclusion a Vote of Thanks and Closing Remarks, Path Forward was given by Professor Chidi Oguamanam, Open AIR/University of Ottawa.

An unusual feature to this Workshop was that workshop participants took home assignments on the development of research grant ideas and have been getting ongoing feedback on their assignments which assesses the extent of participants’ increased understanding of research grant writing skills and knowledge transfer. That exercise is still ongoing at the moment and it is being coordinated by Professor Peter Okebukola.

Our particular thanks go to the Vice Chancellor of LASU, Professor Olanrewaju Fagbohun, who opened the Workshop and attended throughout the two days; and to Professor Chidi Oguamanam, Open AIR/University of Ottawa, who was the key motivator and organiser of the Workshop.