The move by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND) to attract major international research grants to Nigerian scholars has received a massive boost as the European Union has committed to provide 440,000 euros to support shortlisted research teams in the country under the Horizon Europe Project.
Tope Toogun, who heads TETFund’s team on the Horizon Europe program, made this known on Thursday while briefing the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sunny Echono, on ongoing efforts to ensure Nigerian researchers’ participation in the globally renowned research project, according to a statement released on Friday in Abuja.
He lamented that despite the rich human resources in the country, researchers in Nigeria had until now taken a back seat in accessing grants for the EU Horizon project.
“It is embarrassing that Nigeria, with all our intellectual capital, cannot participate in Horizon. The EU works in terms of a seven-year framework; the current one is Horizon Europe; the previous framework was called Horizon 2020, and it ran from 2013 to 2020.
“Africa got about 350 projects, out of which South Africa alone cornered 146, Egypt and Morocco got between 50 and 70, and Kenya got 46; Nigeria was not on the radar. It doesn’t mean we haven’t been participating; we have been on the sidelines,” he said.
Toogun, who briefed the TETFund’s boss alongside another member of the team, Ayo Ajayi, identified the inability of Nigerian researchers to organize and prepare sufficiently for the Horizon project as one of the major impediments that prevented them from accessing the grants; hence, the decision of the TETFund to set up the team in order to clear all the hurdles.
On his part, the TETFund’s Executive Secretary said the agency is fully committed to ensuring Nigerian researchers are competitive in the International arena, adding that the Fund is also targeting other global research bodies to attract grants for scholars in the country.