AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowship Fully-funded 2020 for African PhD Students


AfricaLics – the African Network for Economics of Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems is looking for suitable PhD student candidates from universities in African countries to participate in the AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowship Programme focused on Innovation and Development.

Application Deadline: 12th December 2019 (COB).

Eligible Countries: African countries

To be taken at (country): Aalborg University, Denmark

About the Award: The programme allows successful candidates a study period of five month based at the Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Science, Aalborg University, Denmark.

The aim of the visiting fellowship programme and the scholarships is to help African PhD students working in the field of Innovation and Development to strengthen their academic/research qualifications; improve quality of their dissertations and prepare for a career in innovation and development either within academia or outside (e.g. in the private sector or in government/policy making).

The visiting fellowship programme does this by increasing the international mobility and level of exposure of the PhD students to international knowledge in the field of innovation and development. The programme forms part of the efforts by AfricaLics to contribute to the development of a vibrant research community in Africa in this emerging and highly multidisciplinary field. The Swedish Development Agency, Sida (Stockholm) provides funding for the visiting scholarships as part of the project Enhancing research capacity on Innovation and Development in Africa through the African Network on Learning, Innovation and Competence Building Systems (AfricaLics) – Phase II (2017-2021).

The AfricaLics secretariat (hosted by the African Centre for Technology Studies) is responsible for the project with the AfricaLics Scientific Board providing advice on scientific matters and issues of strategic importance. The AfricaLics PhD Visiting Fellowship Programme more specifically is organized jointly by the AfricaLics secretariat and researchers at the Faculty of Social Science at Aalborg University, including members of various research groups such as IKE (Innovation, Knowledge and Economic Dynamics); GRS (the Global Refugee Studies research group); and DIR (Research Centre on Development and International Relations). The programme also includes collaboration with scholars from other universities such as Lund University in Sweden (Department of Economic History) engaged in Globelics – the Global Research network on Learning, Innovation and Competence building.

Type: Fellowship


  • The scholarship option is open to PhD students from countries classified by the DAC as low and lower-middle income in Africa whose studies – irrespective of sectoral discipline – focus on innovation and development. Female PhD students are particularly encouraged to apply as AfricaLics endeavours to contribute to increasing the currently low number of female scholars in Innovation and Development research studies in Africa.
  • Likewise, PhD students from low-income countries are particularly encouraged to apply as AfricaLics endeavours to increase research capacity in Innovation and Development in low-income countries in Africa.
  • Applicants must be enrolled as PhD students at African universities and must have completed their first year of PhD studies by July 2020.
  • A maximum of five visiting scholarships are available for 2019. The visiting scholarship is complementary to the studies of the PhD students and applicants must already have secured basic funding for their PhD studies from other sources (e.g. African governments, other organisations, self-financing).
  • The programme gives priority to students working on topics related to the research themes identified by the AfricaLics network as important to the future of Africa

Selection Criteria: Applicants for the AfricaLics PhD sandwich programme should:

  • Be enrolled as a PhD student at a university in Africa.
  • Have completed their first year of studies by February 2018/upgrade/probation and possess adequate skills in English (the types of language tests that are accepted are listed on the AAU web-page:
  • Be working actively on a subject relevant to the field of innovation and development defined as the study and management of processes that link innovation to development. Innovation is broadly defined as spanning from “new to the world inventions” to the diffusion and use of technology new to the user, including competence building among users of innovation.
  • Submit a brief application (3-5 pages) explaining own background, motivation for applying and expected outcomes of participation in the PhD sandwich programme together.

Number of Awards: 5

Value of Program:

The visiting scholarship will provide students with time off from duties in their home country to focus on analyzing data collected from fieldwork and writing up articles or chapters for their PhD thesis. Students will also do presentations of their project work to and benefit from interaction with faculty members and fellow PhD students working on innovation and development issues at the Faculty of Social Science at Aalborg University and other relevant scholars engaged in the AfricaLics VFP.

The study stay will also include possibilities for participating in a limited number of PhD courses either in Denmark or in countries in Europe that offer courses deemed of particular relevance for the student. In exceptional cases, the programme will also fund costs related to participation of the PhD student in conferences taking place during the time of the fellowship to help foster the PhD students’ academic career. Paper or poster presentation by the PhD student is a pre-condition.

During the fellowship period, each student will be “matched” with at least one senior scholar and possibly also with a junior scholar with competences in the field in which the student is active. The scholars will act as mentors for the PhD visiting fellows. Mentors attached to the AfricaLics PhD visiting fellowship programme have so far come mainly from IKE, but scholars from other research groups at AAU and other collaborating universities such as Lund University are increasingly being involved. In this way, the AfricaLics Visiting Fellowship Programme help build research capabilities in the field of Innovation and Development drawing on internationally renowned scholars in the field. Final selection of mentors depend on the topic and background of successful applicants.

Mentors from AAU and other universities are not formal supervisors and hence full responsibility for the PhD study process remains with the PhD student and his/her supervisors from the home university in Africa. Close interaction between the PhD student, home supervisor and the mentors is required to make sure the study stay contributes in a constructive manner to the studies of the PhD student. Hence, the PhD candidate should organize trilateral meetings and e-mail exchanges between the PhD student, the main supervisor from the home institution and the AAU mentors. Meetings will mostly take place through Skype, but at least one meeting will be a face-to-face meeting as home supervisors visit their students in Denmark for in-depth discussions on progress made by the PhD student and discussions on research and research capacity building in the field of Innovation and Development in Africa more generally.


  • Participation in the AfricaLics PhD Visiting Programme will eventually form part of the wider PhD study plan for each applicant, which may include various elements such as:
  • Initial theoretical studies/taught courses and fieldwork in home country/country where the student is already enrolled as a PhD student (first year must have been concluded by July 2020).
  • Maximum of five months visit to Aalborg University to focus on writing up thesis or articles that are part of the PhD thesis.
  • Participation in AfricaLics VFP seminars organised as part of the study visit (introduction seminar, paper presentation seminars and wrap-up seminar)
  • Participation in relevant PhD academies and training events in DK or neighbouring countries (e.g. DRUID Academies 2020 or 2021) and one or two carefully selected PhD training courses in Denmark taking place during the study period (e.g. DRUID PhD Course and other options – see PhD candidates are responsible for applying to such courses and academies themselves following agreement with their home-supervisors, mentors and the AfricaLics PhD VFP academic coordinator).
  • AfricaLics PhD visiting fellows are encouraged to work on and submit papers to up-coming relevant conferences such as e.g. the 17th Globelics conference 2020 (in October 2020 in Costa Rica) and the AfricaLics PhD academies in 2020 and 2021. Participation in such activities implies exposure to the wider Globelics/AfricaLics community. It is the responsibility of the PhD candidates themselves to apply for participation in such events.
  • Return to home country and continue work on PhD dissertation in order to finalize and submit.

Residence and work permit: Successful PhD candidates are responsible for applying for and paying the costs (including administration fee) for their residence and work permit themselves, but the International Office at AAU will assist students in the process of obtaining this. The total amount of the stipend that the PhD candidate will receive during the study period in Denmark includes an amount equivalent to the fees that have to be paid, but costs will not be refunded directly. Advance payment is also not possible.

Accommodation: The organisers at AAU will provide information on accommodation options in Copenhagen, but visiting fellows must organise and pay for accommodation themselves using funds available from the stipend. One option is to apply for accommodation at the Danida Fellowship Centre

Additional information on terms and conditions

Travel costs (economy class) and health insurance will be covered, but students have to be registered with the Danish authorities before the health insurance becomes active. This may take some time. Students must therefore take out their own health insurance for the first two weeks of the stay.

The visiting scholars will receive a stipend of 16,000 DKK per month (equivalent to app. 2140 USD as per September 2020). This includes funds for accommodation. Tax exemption has to be applied for after the candidates arrive and cannot be guaranteed, so it is advisable to bring extra funds for the first two months of the visiting fellowship period. If an agreement is made that Danida Fellowship Centre in Copenhagen houses the visiting fellow, the stipend amount may change.

A fixed amount is available to cover student participation in selected course activities and for supervision (over and above the stipend).

Funding is available for organizing trilateral meetings between the PhD student, the main supervisor from home institution and the AAU mentor during the study period at AAU.

The scholarship covers only costs related to the visit of the student him/herself. Costs related to accompanying spouses, children or others are not covered. Unfortunately, this fellowship cannot support accompanying family members and we strongly encourage fellows to not bring family members for the study visit as this will reduce time available for focussing on the PhD work.

Duration of Program: 5 months (1st September 2020 and ending 31st January 2021).

How to Apply: 

 The application must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • Brief outline of your current PhD project including training plan (max. 5 pages)
  • Curriculum Vitae – CV (including PhD courses attended so far)
  • Letter of support from the main PhD supervisor confirming that the PhD student will have completed her/his upgrade/probation by end August 2020
  • Letter of support from the University Administration at the university where the PhD student is enrolled
  • Copies of academic certificates (copies of Bachelor and Master Certificates as a minimum)
  • One writing sample (article or chapter) from current PhD program

You are NOT expected to submit a copy of your passport when applying for the PhD visiting fellowship programme. If you are offered the scholarship, we will ask you to confirm that you have a passport that is valid for the duration of the scholarship and at least six months after (or whatever is required at the time of application for residence and work permit in Denmark).

Please use the application form when you submit your application. You can download the form through this link

Applications with all relevant attachments should be forwarded to [email protected] by 12th December 2019 (COB).

Applications not fulfilling the requirements above will not be considered, so please forward any questions you may have to [email protected] and you will be assisted.

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