Connect Africa


Connect Africa Scholarships aim to support travel and skills building opportunities that will have the ability to impact on the research career-advancement of early career scientists and students on the African continent and contribute to developing the next generation of scientific leaders. Through travel grants ranging from $2,000-$10,000, Connect Africa Scholarships aim to support research career development. Connect Africa Scholarships are generously supported by the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. Previous support has been provided by the Mark and Lisa Schwartz Foundation through the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA.


Applicants must be an African national and either a student or researcher at a SANTHE-affiliated site* or be seeking assistance to travel to one of these organisations. The funding covers travel in order to learn new techniques, attend conferences and scientific courses, take part in teaching opportunities, build new scientific research collaborations and develop global and intra-Africa partnerships. The scholarships also aim to leverage the research and training facilities of SANTHE partner sites, and to offer young African scientists (masters, PhD, postdoctoral research fellows and early career research scientists) the chance to develop further as researchers.

Who can apply?

Masters, PhD, postdoctoral researchers and other early career scientists may apply. Individuals should be working on HIV/TB/SARS-CoV-2 and/or associated morbidities and infections.

There are two types of awards:

  1. Global: Any researcher linked to a SANTHE site or SANTHE-affiliated site may apply to attend conferences, key meetings or trainings anywhere in the world.
  2. Intra- Africa: Individuals based at any African institution can apply to travel to SANTHE sites or SANTHE-affiliated sites to attend conferences, key meetings or trainings.

*SANTHE-affiliated sites include the main SANTHE partner institutes (Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Botswana-Harvard AIDS Institute Partnership (BHP), Centre de Recherche sur les Maladies Emergentes et Re-emergentes (CREMER), Collaborative Clinical Research Centre (CCRC), Harare, Zimbabwe, KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP), Rwanda Zambia Health Research Group (RZHRG) and the Uganda-Case Research Collaboration (UCRC)) and associated partners including: Makerere University, University of Botswana, University of Zambia, University of Rwanda, University of Zimbabwe, Centre International de Référence – Chantal Biya-  pour la recherche sur la prévention et la prise en charge du VIH / SIDA (CIRCB), Centre Pasteur du Cameroun (CPC), University of Yaounde 1, Pwani University, Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), and the Kwazulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP).

Application process & documents

Awards are given based on the perceived benefit and need of the trip to the applicant, the qualifications of the applicant, and the quality/content of the proposed trip.

Each application will be reviewed by a committee of scientists based at AHRI and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard.

Applications are only received via our online form.

Please note that you will also need to upload the following supporting documents to the form:

  1. Letter of support from the host institution or similar (e.g. proof of abstract acceptance at an international conference)
  2. Budget and budget justification
  3. CV

Failure to submit a complete and accurate application will result in removal of the application from the selection process.

Please note that your application will be forwarded to your supervisor who will be asked to approve the submission and upload a letter of support.

Important to note

  • Our review timeframe is approximately three weeks; please factor this into your planning
  • Funds must be used for the approved purposes of the award.
  • All funds will be transferred to home institutions/departments. Funds will not be transferred into personal accounts. A detailed budget and budget justification outlining how the funds will be spent needs to be submitted with the application. A detailed budget needs to be submitted outlining entire trip costs and how the funds from the Connect Africa Scholarship will be spent. Please note that CAS funds will not be transferred until proof of funding for the entire trip has been secured.
  • Awards can support domestic and international air travel and other costs, including but not limited to: housing, ground transport, fees, and visas.
  • Award recipients are required to submit a two-page report (using the provided template) on their travel as well as at least one relevant photograph documenting their trip. By accepting the award, awardees give permission for SANTHE, AHRI, the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard and affiliates to use trip reports and media for publicity and marketing purposes.
  • Support from the Connect Africa Scholarships should be acknowledged in any subsequent publications or presentations derived from this award. Please use this wording “Funding support was provided by the Connect Africa Scholarships, which are generously supported by the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, and administered by the Sub-Saharan African Network for TB/HIV Research Excellence (SANTHE)”.
  • Please note that an individual can only be awarded one scholarship per year.

Frequently Asked Questions

What defines early career?

In this application process ‘early career’ refers to students or individuals who have obtained their graduate degrees (e.g. MSc, PhD, MD) within the past 5 – 10 years and who are not established investigators or senior faculty. Eligible clinicians must be working on research projects involving scientists from the SANTHE-affiliated sites.

My flight only costs $1 000. May I use the unused portion for a second trip later in the year?

No. The award covers only a single round-trip itinerary per year. A detailed budget and budget justification needs to be submitted with your application. You are welcome to apply again next year for a second trip.

My flight only costs $1 000. May I use the unused portion for a second destination on the same trip?

Yes. The award supports a single, round-trip itinerary per year. However, your proposal must offer a compelling explanation of the value of the second destination and provide additional letters of support from additional organisations involved in your trip. A detailed budget and budget justification needs to be submitted with your application.

My trip costs more than $10 000. Can I apply for more than $10 000 from the Connect Africa Scholarships?

No. Connect Africa Scholarships are for a maximum of $10 000. Please apply to other sources to obtain the additional funding required. Please note that there is a space on the application form to indicate that you have applied for or have secured additional funding. A detailed budget and budget justification needs to be submitted with your application clearly stating how the $10 000 from the Connect Africa Scholarship will contribute to the overall cost of the trip. Funding will only be transferred once we have confirmation that you have all the required funding for your trip to go ahead.

I have received a Connect Africa Scholarship and the funds have been transferred to my home institution. However, I am no longer able to go on the trip. Do I have to return the funds?

Yes. If your trip can no longer go ahead, the funds will need to be transferred back to AHRI. If you have to postpone your trip please contact AHRI immediately.

My abstract was accepted to the International AIDS Conference. Can I apply for a travel award to support my travel to the conference?

Yes. Travel awards can be used for conference attendance. Priority will be given to those individuals who have been asked to give an oral presentation and have no other funding sources. It is expected that applicants document their application for conference scholarships.

My flight only costs $1 000. May I use the unused portion of my award for housing and transportation costs in-country?

Yes, however all costs must be budgeted and supported with cost estimates. The award may extend to a maximum of $10 000.

My total budget has come to $9 500. What happens to the unused $500? May I use this at my discretion?

No, the award is for up to $10 000. You will be awarded $9 500 to cover the total approved budget.

I know I want to work in Rwanda but have not selected my partner organisation. Can I still apply?

No. Complete applications include letters of support from host organisations. Your application is incomplete without the letter of support.

What letters of recommendation do I need to submit?

You must submit a letter of support from your supervisor/mentor - which includes an approval of submission for this application. If you are to be hosted by another institution, a letter of support from the host institution is required.

I am a Masters student at the University of Cape Town and have been accepted to attend the AHRI Biostatistics Course. Can I still apply for a Connect Africa scholarship?

Yes. Scientists based at the University of Cape Town, as well as at other universities in South Africa and the rest of Africa, are eligible to apply for a Connect Africa Scholarship for course fees, accommodation, and travel to SANTHE-affiliated sites.