Professor Kevin Marsh, the recipient of the 2015 Al-Sumait Health Prize for African Development has since being awarded the prize, at a ceremony at the African Arab Summit in November 2016, donated the entire one million dollars prize money to boost the prospects of young African researchers.
The two initiatives that received the prize funds were the African Academy of Sciences Young Affiliates Program and the Africa Oxford Initiative based out of Oxford University, that were both in great need of funding to support young African scholars. The prize has allowed both organisations to expand their programs and in doing so support young African researchers who are driving development on the continent.
The African Academy of Sciences Young Affiliates Program identifies young research leaders across Africa each year to become an affiliate of The Academy. It is directly through funds from the Al-Sumait Prize that The Academy will have the resources to expand the career development opportunities available to the Young Affiliates program. Including hosting an event in 2018 where these young researchers will meet, share knowledge and strengthen research connections.
The Africa Oxford Initiative aims to build stronger research collaborations between the University of Oxford and African institutions however there was a significant need for funding. A direct result of winning the prize was that the Africa Oxford Initiative now has the resources to provide travel fellowships that are awarded to African researchers to travel to Oxford who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to study at the world-
class research institute.
“As well as the conference we are looking at linking up all of the Affiliates with better web based linkages and workshops for skills development. On the Oxford side, for the other part of the prize money, we are setting up various schemes for travel fellowships and postdoctoral exchanges working with African students in Oxford. So there is a whole set of initiatives which are moving forward which are really depending almost totally from having this injection of funds from the Prize” said Professor Marsh about the significant impact that the Al-Sumait Prize has had.
Professor Marsh said that winning the Al-Sumait Prize has not only provided both initiatives with much-needed funds but it has also significantly raised the profiles of both to potential future funding partners. The Al-Sumait Prize will continue to have long lasting “ impacts on the young African scholars who are directly benefiting from the initiatives funded by prize.
“What we have used the prize money for is for investment in the future so I think it will continue to have an impact. I see both Young Affiliates and the Africa Oxford Initiative as long term enterprises that will grow and we are quite ambitious for both. Now, obviously, we will see be seeking partnerships and funding from elsewhere but by having a kind of major injection of support right at the beginning it will continue to have a very long term impact.”
Kuwait's Al-Sumait Prizes are a set of annual awards designed to honor significant advances in the fields of food security, health and education in Africa. Administered by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and a Board of Trustees, the awards celebrate the work and accomplishments of Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sumait, a Kuwaiti physician who spent his lifetime helping the poor in Africa in the field of health and education. The objective of the prizes is to recognize best studies, scientific projects, applied research, and innovative initiatives that have a significant impact and lasting influence on advancing progress to economic and social development in Africa. www.alsumaitprize.org