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Nigerian university triples research spend

The African University of Science and Technology (AUST) has more than trebled its budgetary allocation for research in 2012, its newly appointed president has told Research Africa.

Wole Soboyejo said the institution, which opened in Abuja in 2007, would spend US$5 million on research this year, compared with US$1m in 2011.

“This is our niche. Research is our priority. We will use it to contribute to the development of Africa,” Soboyejo said in a telephone interview.

Up to US$1m of the funding—provided by the Tunisia-based African Development Bank—would be used to construct a laboratory and US$3m to buy equipment, said Soboyejo. The remaining US$1m would finance postgraduate research projects in solar energy, biomedical materials for disease detection and treatment and ICT.

Soboyejo took up the reins of the institution on 3 January 2012, before which the former Princeton-based engineer was principal executive officer. He succeeds mathematician Charles Chidume, who was acting president for about 18 months until December 2011.

Soboyejo said he hoped to see increased interdisciplinary research during his tenure.

“If you bring a group of people together from different disciplines your research is likely to have more impact than if it is just an individual doing it,” he said.

Funding would be given to students and staff who “express a need for it,” he said.