Project Period

April 2022 - November 2024

The prevalent lack of African leadership in research endeavors across the continent is one of the challenges the continent continues to grapple with. Despite being the subject of numerous studies, much of the research, notably health research, in Africa is often led by external investigators and institutions. Factors contributing to this imbalance include but are not limited to inadequate research capacity in  Africa, where only  2% of the world’s research output originates, and the significantly smaller number of health researchers at 20 per million people compared to Europe’s 244, according to the World Health Organization report.

These dynamics limit the local ownership of research findings and undermine their potential impact on the ground. Furthermore, Africa receives a disproportionately low share of global health research funding, with priorities often dictated by non-African agendas despite collaborations with local experts. This results in research efforts that may not adequately address African populations’ pressing needs and priorities.

The Catalyze Impact Initiative responds to the critical need for increased African leadership in the continent’s research and development (R&D). Spearheaded by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) and supported by the Gates Foundation, this Initiative aims to empower African researchers, institutions, policymakers, and the broader research ecosystem to shape impactful research agendas and policies. It also seeks to address several key challenges that have long hindered Africa’s research landscape by fostering African-led research and translating it into actionable policies and decision-making.

The Initiative focuses on:

  1. Health Systems Prototypes: Establishing successful models linking research institutions to the national health systems of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria.
  2. Research Readiness Assessment: The Research Readiness Assessment tool is a modular online self-evaluation tool that analyzes the preparedness of academic and research institutions. It assesses African institutions’ readiness to conduct quality research.
  3. Good Financial Grant Practice: Administering GFGP tool to assess financial governance and management capabilities to ensure effective grant utilization.
  4. Africa Research Connect Platform: Facilitating collaboration between researchers, funders, and policymakers to enhance research visibility.
  5. African Journal Visibility: Improving global indexing and discoverability of African journals.
  6. Diversity and Inclusion: Promoting diversity within implementation research, focusing on early-career and women researchers.
  7. Capacity building: Promoting the exchange of ideas, resources, and best practices enabling institutions to strengthen their research capabilities.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Increased direct grants to African universities/research institutes.
  2. Utilization of scalable learning platforms by 40% of participating African institutions.
  3. Equitable gender representation in project leadership and beneficiaries.
  4. Adoption of impact-oriented university health research systems by governments.
  5. Implementation of impactful national policies informed by research.
  6. Foundational steps for a continent-wide Clinical Trials Registration system.
  7. Establishment of a regional data repository used by at least 20% of direct grantees.

The Catalyze Impact Initiative collaborates with state and non-state actors in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Nigeria to advance its goal of transforming Africa’s research landscape through relevant and impactful research driven by African leadership.

Project Team

  • Catherine Kyobutungi
  • Gaye Agesa
  • Kirimi Sindi
  • Daniel Kurui
  • Leah Mwangi
  • Patrick Amboka
  • Hiram Kariuki
  • Sheila Mwero
  • Lisa Omondi
  • Alphonsus Neba
  • Moreen Nkonge
  • Lamech Mutava
  • Tony Blair Aloo
  • Eugenia Sirengo

Project Duration

  • Nov 2024


  • Kano State Government
  • Bayero University Kano
  • University of Lagos
  • Ministry of Health, Ethiopia


  • Gates Foundation