Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Emerging Tech

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

Article Image

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded US$3.3 million in grants to university research teams to advance digital technologies across the continent.

Afretec is a pan-African collaboration of universities, established in 2022 and anchored at Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU Africa) campus in Kigali, Rwanda.

Eleven grants – of $300,000 each – have been awarded to multi-university research teams to build research capacity, advance digital transformation and work toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa.

Each team will utilize innovative practices in disciplines that include artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity, and information and communications technologies.

The Afretec Network focuses on producing critical, locally relevant innovations and globally competitive tech talent; multi-institution collaborations for knowledge creation; and fostering a tech startup culture and ecosystem across Africa through entrepreneurship education and business opportunities.

The 11 selected research teams are using innovative practices including robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity and ICT.    (Source: Image by Lifestylememory on Freepik)
The 11 selected research teams are using innovative practices including robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, cyber-physical systems, cybersecurity and ICT.
(Source: Image by Lifestylememory on Freepik)

Funding for the network comes, in part, from a $275.7 million investment by the Mastercard Foundation in higher education and innovation in Africa. The investment, made in September 2022, includes a $175 million endowment to perpetually fund Carnegie Mellon Africa and $100.7 million to establish CMU-Africa's Center for the Inclusive Digital Transformation of Africa.

The research teams selected for the grant come from universities in Egypt, South Africa, Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda and Côte d'Ivoire.

Research projects innovating across key sectors

The selected projects have the potential to address problems across a multitude of areas, including agriculture, education, energy, financial inclusion, healthcare, infrastructure, manufacturing, transportation, waste management and water systems.

Some of the key projects include:

  • Culturally sensitive social robotics for Africa (CMU Africa and University of the Witwatersrand): The project will identify verbal and non-verbal social and cultural norms of human interaction that are prevalent in African countries in order to incorporate them in the behavioral patterns of social robots so that they can engage with African people in a manner that is consistent with their expectations of acceptable social interaction.

  • Continental digitized African sensing platform (American University in Cairo, University of Lagos, Carnegie Mellon University): The goal of the project is to create the infrastructure needed to develop, test and deploy one of the first low-cost air pollutant sensors created and produced completely in Africa.

  • IoT-enabled privacy-preserving large-scale healthcare analytics (American University in Cairo, University of the Witwatersrand, Carnegie Mellon University): This project aims to make monitoring cardiovascular diseases more accessible by designing and demonstrating low-cost, privacy-preserving and scalable digital technologies based on Internet of Things (IoT). Wireless and machine learning will be used to monitor and identify abnormal electrocardiogram patterns in patients.

  • Digital malaria control (CMU Africa and the University of Rwanda): By studying human and organizational factors, this project aims to adapt current technological advances to improve malaria control in the African context including investigating deep learning methods for reliably identifying malaria parasites.

  • Strengthening water access and quality (University of Lagos, University of Nairobi, University of Rwanda): Informed by community knowledge and participation, the project will develop smart in-situ water purification technology in two informal communities in each of the partnering institutions' cities in order to build an African knowledge ecosystem for improving and ensuring water security.

    You can find the full list of funded projects here.

    Related posts:

    *Top image source: Image by Freepik.

    — Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

  • Innovation hub


    Four agritech startups to watch in 2024

    Connecting Africa has compiled a list of four agritech startups that are making a difference in the communities they serve.


    Paymentology looks to strengthen its African roots

    Global issuer-processor Paymentology's CEO Jeff Parker spoke to Connecting Africa about the company's African roots and aspirations to work with more banks, fintechs and enterprises both on the continent and globally.

    More Innovation hub

    Latest video

    More videos

    Partner perspectives

    All Partner Perspectives

    Sponsored video

    More videos

    Industry announcements

    More Industry announcements

    Upcoming events

    Africa Tech Festival 2024
    November 11-14, 2024
    Cape Town, South Africa
    More Upcoming events

    Africa Tech Perspectives


    Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

    Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.


    The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

    A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


    Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

    New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

    More Africa Tech perspectives

    Guest Perspectives


    Omdia View: February 2024

    By Omdia Analysts

    Highlights in February 2024 in the Middle East and Africa included 5G launches in Senegal and 5G trials in Egypt as well as Kenya's first 5G MVNO. Airtel also launched a new wholesale connectivity business while MTN and Huawei are planning a joint Innovation Technology Lab in South Africa – that and more in this month's Omdia View.


    Omdia View: January 2024

    By Omdia Analysts

    Highlights in January 2024 in the Middle East and Africa included a $200 million fintech deal between MTN and Mastercard as well as 5G network trials by Telecom Egypt – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

    More Guest Perspectives

    Like us on Facebook

    Newsletter Sign Up

    Sign Up
    Tag id test-002