Connect Africa


Through travel grants of up to a maximum of $2 000, Connect Africa Scholarships are for early career scientists and students in Africa who are pursuing opportunities for research development. Applicants must either be students or researchers at Africa Health Research Institute (AHRI), HIV Pathogenesis Programme (HPP), the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), or Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa (CAPRISA), or be seeking assistance to travel to one of these organisations.

The funding covers travel within South Africa or to other countries 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 the four research organisations, and to offer young African scientists (undergraduates, postgraduates, postdoctoral research fellows and early career research scientists) the chance to develop further as researchers.

Additional information

Scholarships of up to $2 000 are typically awarded. 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.

Connect Africa Scholarships are generously supported by the Massachusetts General Hospital, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA, and through philanthropic support from the Mark and Lisa Schwartz Foundation through the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard.

Review panel

Each application will be reviewed by a committee of scientists based at AHRI and the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard. Eighteen awards will be made each year. Reviewers will consider applications which close annually on 1 March, 1 July and 1 November. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by the third week of March, July and November. In certain cases, funding may be requested outside the normal funding cycle.

Application details and documents

Applicants who live permanently in any of the 54 African countries plus territories and who are based at a research institution in Africa are eligible to apply.

Applications are only received via our online form. To apply, please click here.

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

  1. Letter of support from your supervisor
  2. Approval of submission of this application from current supervisor
  3. Letter of Support from host institution (where applicable)
  4. Budget and budget justification
  5. CV

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

Important to note

  • Applicants should time their applications to accommodate the annual application date deadlines and approximately three weeks to get a response on the outcome of the application.
  • 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 $2 000 from the Connect Africa Scholarship will be spent. Please note that CAS funds will not be transferred until 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 on their travel as well as at least one relevant photograph documenting their trip. By accepting the award, awardees give permission for AHRI 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 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 AHRI, HPP, UKZN or CAPRISA and must have obtained their degrees within the past 10 years.

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 $2 000. Can I apply for more than $2 000 from the Connect Africa Scholarships?

No. Connect Africa Scholarships are for a maximum of $2 000. 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 $2 000 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 $2 000.

My total budget has come to $1 500. What happens to the unused $500? May I use this at my discretion?

No, the award is for up to $2 000. You will be awarded $1 500 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 will need to submit a Letter of Support from your supervisor, an approval of submission of this application from your current supervisor, and if you are to be hosted by another institution, a Letter of Support from the host institution.

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 AHRI or affiliated organisations CAPRISA, UKZN and HPP.

I am PhD student in Ghana and would like to travel to HPP to obtain flow cytometry training with our collaborator at HPP. Can I apply for a Connect Africa Scholarship?

Yes. Please remember that you will need a letter of recommendation from your host at HPP which describes your research collaboration.