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SA DST/NRF Funding Inkaba yeAfrica Phase II : 2009-2012

I am pleased to be able to finally tell you that Inkaba yeAfrica Phase II has been funded from 2009 onwards. The funding phase starts 01 January 2009, and will run until end 2011 (3 years), with 2012 still to be negotiated. Awards will be made on an annual basis (note the separate guidelines at the end of this letter).

Although the funding is not at the level that we had asked, and hoped, for, it has a significant number of postgraduate bursaries attached to it each year (e.g. 14 honours students, 36 masters and at least 13 PhD students per year). There are two (2) provisos: 80% of the students should be black and 50% should be women. These are important targets we must meet as it is part of our transformation mandates.

In addition there will be R2.5 million/year for the next three (3) years to carry out the research by these students and by you, as per your proposals of the Inkaba yeAfrica Phase II, early January 2008.  This proposal was re-submitted in revised (and financially reduced) form to DST/NRF in April this year (as per their request).  I circulated these revised numbers to everyone,  feel free to ask for them if you have mislaid or not received them.

There is also an annual amount of R1-million for Inkaba yeAfrica researchers and their students to attend the annual workshop (2010 - Germany;  2009 - Swaziland;  2007 - Wild Coast, SA).  In addition there is a significant sum of money set aside for the selected students (and yourself) to travel and spend time in Germany at theGFZ-Potsdam, fortraining and collaboration with yourGerman counterpart.  This will have to be applied for on an ad hoc basis as the year progresses.

Inkaba yeAfrica will keep a small sum of money to pay for the management of the funds (at AEON/NMMU) and the general management of the project through the Inkaba yeAfrica Office (Elronah Schaap (Smit) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).  The NRF and DST have expressed confidence in the way that NMMU administered and audited the accounts during Phase I, and has suggested we follow similar 'rules'. 

We will be able to transfer lump sums of money (eg. bursaries etc.) on request.  To access this, it will be up to you to supply the names of identified, registered students and the running title of their projects. These should dovetail with your original proposals. So, in all, there are significant sums of money. The challenge now is TO:
1identify the right students  
2.  to reduce the original scope ofyour project tofit the budgets outlined above relative to what you asked for early January 2008 (we originally asked for well over R40 million from DST, about 22% of the total cost of the Phase II.  DST asked us to reduce this by about half to a final submitted budget of around 5 million/year (excluding  the bursary monies).
We should be thankful and sympathetic to Ludwig Combrinck, who agreed to reduce his own project by a very large amount, which enabled most of us to survive!  Thanks Ludwig.  We should try and reduce our own expenses wherever we can to accommodate some of Ludwig's losses.  Please be sensitive to this, despite the fact that I know most of you will struggle in the face of increased costs and the fact that most of 2008 was essentially lost to the project.   
The DST/NRF grant makes no provisions for the sixteen (16) postdoctoral fellowships that were requested. Instead, they encourage each of you who needed such positions, to apply for these directly to the NRF (see guidelines at www.nrf.ac.za) via the Inkaba yeAfrica Liaison Office (ref. Elronah Schaap (Smit)) to ensure no more than 16 postdoctoral positions for the lifespan of Phase II are applied for. The chances to get these funded are very good indeed if it is requested as part of the Inkaba yeAfrica programme.

Currently no financial support has been allocated for research infrastructure, or for our data management requests. The former means no purchasing of expensive research equipment. The latter means we have to find other ways to archive and manage the considerable Inkaba yeAfrica database being generated by us. I shall discuss this with Brian Horsfield and Bob Trumbull in due course, but any advice/suggestions from you are very welcome.It remains for me to say congratulations: everyone's hard work in getting this proposal written, rewritten and finally accepted by DST and NRF, has paid off.  GFZ-Potsdam management and scientists played a major role in this too, through several visits to DST.  One of the things that has impressed DST is the way we have managed to produce quality science results and communicated these very timely (they were indeed very impressed with the special issue of  the SAJG that reported Inkaba Phase I results, and especially the fact that many students were involved, and even first authors in the majority of the papers) together with the solid advances in training new students. We should continue to aim for this.  Delivery in the end is what counts (and we can mostly thank Brian Horsfield of GFZ-Potsdam for hammering home that point - delivery; thanks Brian).


On behalf of everyone, I shall be writing a letter to DST/NRF, and in particular to Robert Kriger who continues to be a great ambassador for Inkaba yeAfrica, to thank them for their support and confidence in our project.  I wish you all a great end of the year break and a great start to Inkaba Phase II in 2009, and look forward to hearing your new results at the next workshop, about which you will be hearing shortly.

Warm regards
MAARTEN
 

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