A delegation from the Regional Scholarship and Innovation Fund (RSIF) led by the Manager, Dr Moses Osiru, paid a courtesy call on the Honourable Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research of the Republic of Benin, Her Excellency, Professor Eléonore Yayi Ladekan, at the Ministry Headquarters in Cotonou, Benin on Tuesday, 15th March 2022. This took place on the sidelines of the Kick-off meeting and launch of the third-party projects of the European Union (EU) Funded Project titled, “Accelerating Inclusive Green growth through Agri-based Digital Innovation (AGriDI)”. The delegation updated the Minister on progress made in the implementation of the RSIF program and specifically RSIF activities in Benin and discussed further areas of mutual collaboration.
Among the various items discussed were the 21 PhD scholarship beneficiaries from Benin, eight of whom are female scholars. Dr Moses Osiru delivered remarks on behalf of the RSIF delegation, which included Dr. Julius Ecuru, Dr. Jonas Mugabe and Ms. Sakina Mapenzi. The icipe team was accompanied by Professor Achille Assogbadjo and Dr Jules Degila both from the UAC and actively involved in the implementation of AGriDI. Dr Osiru informed the Minister that Benin, will start hosting RSIF doctoral students from across Africa at the University of Abomey-Calavi in 2022, following a competitive selection by PASET that was concluded in 2021. He also extended an invitation to the Honourable Minister to attend RSIF continental meetings including the planned RSIF Annual conference to be organised in partnership with Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P), in Morocco from 24-26 May 2022 whose focus will be on strengthening doctoral training and resource mobilisation for the program.
Dr Jonas Mugabe was introduced to the Minister as the AGriDI Project Manager. Dr. Mugabe provided an overview of the AGriDi project whose project office is based at International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Campus in Cotonou. The project office also serves as the icipe focal point in West-Africa. He thanked the Minister for the support and looked forward to working closely with the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research of Benin.
As a member of PASET-RSIF, Dr Osiru noted that, Benin will be able to leverage other funds by jointly working with other African countries to engage partners and donors, including the private sector. In addition, Beninese institutions will benefit from research and innovation grants to support the strengthening of the research environment in Beninese universities and across the country. This support is leveraged from other donors including the EU financed African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Innovation Fund, the Government of South Korea and the World Bank. The Government of Benin is already benefiting from support from the Government of Korea and the EU AGriDI Project to the PASET RSIF initiative.
The Hon Minister on her part, thanked the RSIF delegation for the courtesy call and for the work being done by RSIF. She promised support from the ministry including advocacy for more funding to RSIF. The Hon Minister conveyed her greetings to the icipe Director General and CEO, Dr. Segenet Kelemu.
Accompanying the Hon Minister were several senior Beninese officials including, The Director of Cabinet and Director of Planning and Prospective of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Benin and Deputy Vice Chancellor of the Université d’Abomey-Calavi and his team including the Directors of the three centres of excellence.