It was the end of April 2021, I was working on my PhD dissertation at Ethiopian Space Science and Geo-spatial Institute (ESSGI) when my supervisor Professor Mengistu sent me the link for the Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) mobility scholarship call.

I saw the call and read all the steps of the application again and again before starting the application process. At that time, I was not sure that the opportunity would be given to me because before that time I had applied so many times for several scholarship opportunities, and none was successful. This time I applied for a 12 months visit to BIUST to complete the work for my PhD thesis with my supervisor.

For several months, there was no notification coming from PAPSSN about the selection outcomes. I was already resigned that my application failed once again and I was discouraged until September 2021, when I received an email notifying me that I have been selected for the PAPSSN mobility program.

Preparation for the study trip

After I saw the nomination letter from the PAPPSN coordinator, I wrote an email to my supervisor in order to decide on my arrival at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST). Then I notified the date of my arrival to the coordinator of PAPSSN and submitted all the necessary documents for my travel.

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, getting an entry visa to Botswana was quite challenging. The Botswana Embassy in Ethiopia requested from me many documents as proof for my admission at BIUST, the travel ticket, nomination letter, invitation letter, and learning agreement to start my visa process. If you are not willing to spend a lot of time on paperwork there is no point for you to embark into an international scholarship application.

My Arrival at BIUST, Botswana.

My supervisor drove to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport to receive me upon my arrival. I am very grateful to Prof Mengistu for all the support secured while I was waiting to be transferred to my permanent accommodation. Palapye, the village where BIUST is located, is a very safe place with lots of accommodations for students and visiting staff. Most of these accommodations are in compounds where other students are staying.

After the accommodation was secured it was the time for me to open a bank account (where to receive my allowance), get a SIM card, and register at the School of Postgraduate Studies in order for me to get residence permit for my 12 months visit. All these took almost a month to be completed, but I was followed step by step by Mrs Chakandinakira, the project manager, and her team here at BIUST.

My work at BIUST so far…

In March, after I had settled down, all the basic processes for my registration were settled, I finally had the time to focus 100% on my Ph.D. with Prof. Mengistu. I have been asked to present my work in a seminar at the Earth and Environmental Science department.

I am currently working on the submission of my first paper and at the same time working on the analysis of the second part of my Ph. D project titled‘ Dynamics of surface water quality derived from satellite remote sensing: Insights from water quality contrasts of Lake Tana in Ethiopia and Okavango Delta in Botswana’.

I am grateful to Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) project Coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi, the project Manager Mrs. Chakandinakira Gadibotsile and the entire PAPSSN selection committee for this unique opportunity. I also would like to express my special, deep and sincere gratitude to the project coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi and the project Manager Mrs. Chakandinakira Gadibotsile for their efforts in ensuring that my allowance is paid on time.

I want to use this chance to say thanks to the PAPSSN mobility project management for this chance which doesn’t only help students to attain their dreams, but also contributes to empowering them to be able to face the development challenges in Africa. I’m deeply honored to be selected for this award which may surely contribute to the development of my career as young researchers and allow me to return to my country (Ethiopia) with far more knowledge and experience.

Finally, I would like to thank my supervisor, Prof. Mengistu, for his limitless support and sort advice for an excellent and efficient implementation of my Ph.D. research. Finally, I express my gratitude to the community of Botswana International University of Science and Technology for their support.

Palapye is a great place to spend time for study and research.

Scholarship applications are invited from African nationals for the following staff mobility bursaries:

Download Call Document

TARGET GROUP 1 – SELECTED CANDIDATES

Target Group 1 Results

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TARGET GROUP 2 – SELECTED CANDIDATES

target-group-2
Target Group 2 Results

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RESERVE LIST – TG1

reserve list
RESERVE LIST – TG1

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THE DREAM

Since 2019, the need to gather more academic experience was the drive to my journey into lecturing at the University of Jinka, Ethiopia, in the area of quantum mechanics. During this period, my wish to go further with my academic career in order to contribute efficiently to the development of my country, using research possibilities, led me to applying for various scholarship; the last of these applications, the Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) mobility project. My friend, Dr. Ephrem Beshir, a staff at Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) notified me of this opportunity.

I saw this opportunity as a means to fulfill my dreams, but at the same time, I was uncertain if the opportunity will be given to me since I have applied countless times to different scholarship opportunites without success. I was losing hopes!. After several months, no response/notification was forth coming with regards to the selection process outcomes. I would say that I felt discouraged again until September 13th 2021, when I received an email notifying that I have been selected for PAPSSN mobility program. This news was quite unbilievable but joyful for me.

I was sitting out with my friends and colleagues after the close of work 13th September, 2021 when I read the email from PAPSSN. It was so unbelievable since I was constantly refreshing my mail to make sure the mail was actually for me. Fortunately, there were documents attached to the notification, especially the nomination letter which got me convinced and I went on to share the good news with my friends and family. This information was the salt that brought taste to our get together after work that faithful day.

I went ahead to inform my colleagues, particularly my mother, as well as my siblings. This was a difficult task for me because they all depend on my assistance and provisions in the family.

One month after the selection result notification, I received my admission letter from the host university, University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), and I immediately made contact with my supervisor Prof. A. E. Chukwude.

Getting Ready for my Study Trip

The preparation for my journey to Nigeria was a difficult but, crucial step. After informing my Department Board of this development, they received the news with joy and organised a meeting to inform the concerned staff of the department and select a lecture who would take over my courses in my absence. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, getting an entry visa to Nigeria was quite challenging, the Nigerian Embassy in Ethiopa requested for so many documents as proof for my admission in UNN. It took me almost a month to get my visa. After receiving my visa. My suggestion to the readers that intend to apply for a mobility project is be ready, make sure you have all the documents and make sure they are certified!

I immediately informed the PAPSSN coordinator/Supervisor and the Admin Officer at my host university. We all concluded on a departure date and my ticket was booked and sent to me.

Arriving the Universityof Nigeria, Nsukka.

Arriving the Universityof Nigeria, Nsukka.

Leaving my family, friends and my wonderful country to study abroad was exciting, but filled with emotions, especially while bidding them goodbye at the airport. I arrived Akanu Ibiam international airport, Enugu State, Nigeria on 4th January, 2022 through Addis Ababa Bole international airport, Ethiopia.

My supervisor/coordinator had already arranged for my pickup before my arrival, hence after the verification process, I was taken to University of Nigeria, Nsukka guest House where my supervisor received me and lodged me for two ( 02) days before I was transfered to my permanent accommodation at the International Scholar’s Village, a secured and quiet hostel specifically designated for international students. The sernity of the environment is aimed for them to be focused on their research projects and coursework.

The following day, I started some basic settling in processes for my immediate proper integration such as opening of bank account, SIM card registration, residence permit, and the registration at the School of Postgraduate Studies (PG School). All these took a month to be completed. Afterwards, a meeting was organized for my introduction at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, with the lecturers and other non-academic staff present.

Arriving the Universityof Nigeria, Nsukka.

During this meeting, I had the opportunity to view not only the organogram of the department, but also how postgraduate courses and seminars are organized. I really appreciate the warm welcome organized by the department and my supervisor.

My Research Work so Far…

In February, after I had settled down, all the basic processes for my integration were set, I was given the options of different platforms of interaction and communication with my supervisor Prof. A. E. Chukwude for an effective research work supervision. I started my project work by extending my literature review and also presented a seminar in the department. Currently, I am still working on the literature review and preparing for another seminar presentation.

With my supervisor Prof. A. E. Chukwude.

In Conclusion

I am grateful to Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) project Coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi, the project Manager Mrs. Chakandinakira Gadibotsile and the entire selection committee for their fair and honest selection process which has made me a beneficiary of the PAPSSN project. I am deeply honored to be selectedfor this award that will surely contribute to the development of young researchers in my country and Africa at large. I am deeply convinced that Iwill have the a great life experience in the University of Nigeria Nsukka, as Postgraduate student.

I would like to express my special appreciation and thanks to the project coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi and the project Manager Mrs. Chakandinakira Gadibotsile for their efforts towards ensuring that my allowance is paid on time while I am far from my family.

I would like to thank my supervisor Prof. A. E. Chukwude for the great support and kind advice for an effective and efficient implementation of my PhD research project. It is a rare privilege and honour to have him adviceme asmy PhD project supervisor and the coordinator par excellence of this project at UNN. I also wish to extend my profound thanks to my co-assistants Dr. Ogbos Okike and Dr. Jibrin Alhassan for their constant support, availability and constructive suggestions on my project work’s progress.

Let me use this opportunity to thank the PAPSSN mobility project management for this opportunity which does not only help students to achieve their dreams, but also contributes empowering them to be able to face the developement challenges in Africa.

Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellors, the Dean of Postgraduate School, the Dean of my Faculty and my family, for their support.

God bless you all.

Applications are invited from African nationals for scholarships in the fields of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space and Planetary Science, Planetary Geology and Remote Sensing. The 2nd PAPSSN Call offers the following scholarships:

TARGET GROUP 1 [Applicants from or graduated at one of the partner Universities]

  • 1x MSc Credit Seeking* (6 months) to Copperbelt University (CBU), Zambia
  • 1x MSc Credit Seeking (6 months) to University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking** (24 months) to BIUST, Botswana
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to Copperbelt University (CBU), Zambia
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Nigeria
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • 3x Short term staff mobility (one month to AAU, CBU and UNN) and 4x Long term staff mobility (three months to BIUST, AAU, CBU and UNN).

TARGET GROUP 2 [Applicants not from one of the partner Universities]

  • 1x PhD Degree Seeking (36 months) to University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to BIUST, Botswana
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to Copperbelt University (CBU), Zambia
  • 1x MSc Degree Seeking (24 months) to University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN), Nigeria

Download call poster

THE GENESIS

It was mid-2021, still struggling with my MSc dissertation after the whole covid lockdown and financial challenges were raging, when my supervisor sent me the application link for the Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) mobility scholarship call. This is a program that is funded by the Intra-Africa Mobility Scheme with the European Commission of the European Union as sponsors. At first, I was reluctant to apply because of my previous experience with other scholarships. I applied and they never called or emailed me to date, so I felt this was another intra-mobility scheme and it wouldn’t go anywhere. To make matters worse, my MSc results were not ready but something kept telling me to apply. I summoned the courage to start the application process, little did I know that I would be awarded the scholarship. It was tough as my application was reverted initially due to incomplete documents. As God would have it the application deadline was extended two weeks. Thanks to the project management, they were very friendly so I was encouraged to push through and my MSc results were ready just on time, lucky me!
It was September 12th 2021 when I received the good news while at home preparing my lessons for the new academic session which was to begin on 20th September 2021. My phone suddenly beeped and this was an email notification that had just came in from PAPSSN. I was terrified initially having received so many rejections over the years, but this time, it was gratifying to see “congratulations”. When I saw the nomination letter, I felt like my spirit left my body because this was the first Ph.D. application I have submitted, and have not even been convocated yet. At first, I couldn’t come to terms with this reality till I communicated with the committee and it was real. I really felt fulfilled. Thanks to PAPSSN for this opportunity.

THE GOOD NEWS

It was September 12th 2021 when I received the good news while at home preparing my lessons for the new academic session which was to begin on 20th September 2021. My phone suddenly beeped and this was an email notification that had just came in from PAPSSN. I was terrified initially having received so many rejections over the years, but this time, it was gratifying to see “congratulations”. When I saw the nomination letter, I felt like my spirit left my body because this was the first Ph.D. application I have submitted, and have not even been convocated yet. At first, I couldn’t come to terms with this reality till I communicated with the committee and it was real. I really felt fulfilled. Thanks to PAPSSN for this opportunity.

PREPARATION FOR MY STUDY TRIP


The Covid-19 heat was still rising and tension are everywhere. My travel documents were out of place and time was running so fast. PCR test was mandatory to travel so the heat was just too much. But with all these challenges, I managed to pull through. Honestly, the coordinators were so friendly and prompt. All information needed for the trip was provided by them in a calm and lovely manner. This made me relax even after we had rescheduled my flight twice. At last, the D-Day came and I was leaving the borders of Nigeria. Tension set in as this was my first time flying out of Nigeria. I started to have hallucinations and wondered what the other world would look like. Eventually, after a series of waiting, checking in, we took off. It was a long flight as we had to make two stops at Kigali airport and Johannesburg airport. Finally, we arrive at the new Ndola International Airport in Zambia. A great sense of relief came over me when I behold the green vegetations of Zambia. Then I realized the journey had just begun.

MY EXPERIENCE IN ZAMBIA SO FAR.


My first encounter with a Zambian was at Ndola International Airport where I realized one of my bags was missing. I made a complaint to the Airport baggage control official on duty and he was so kind to take my complaint and assured me the bag will be recovered. He also told me to call some numbers which he wrote on the complaint form for follow-up. I felt so at home and relax the way he related to me. This gave me a sense of peace that Zambians were hospitable.

A Snap shot at the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport Ndola

By the time I was out of the airport, the University through my host had sent a special transport to pick me up. I felt really good as I finally started to relax after such a long trip. The car took me straight to an apartment already arranged for me at the Copperbelt University School of Graduate studies Complex. The environment was calm and serene, located in the best township in Kitwe.   Just there and then I met my host Dr. Prospery Simpemba who I have been communicating with all along.  He welcomed me warmly and took me to my room.

Me and my Host Dr. Prospery Simpemba at the entrance of the CBU

The Next day, I was introduced to the offices and directors within the graduate school. My host also showed their computer lab which was equipped with 24/7 power and internet. He later took me to the bank to get my settling in allowance.

Later within the week, I was assigned my workspace with a PC to work with temporality while the arrangement is ongoing for my Research tools. As a Ph.D. student here at CBU, Offices are assigned specially with workspace for different Ph.D. students. This fosters growth and intellectual conversation with fellow Ph.D. students.

A week after my settlement, my co-supervisor Dr. Joseph Simfukwe, a very friendly, sincere, and God-fearing man and also the current Head of the Physics Department here at CBU invited me for a very warm and welcoming Sunday service. It was a refreshing experience.

MY RESEARCH WORK SO FAR…

After I settled and all challenges had been tackled, I was assigned some tasks almost immediately. My co-supervisor, Prof Golden, created a Google Class where all our work progress can be monitored and shared so the team can follow accordingly. So far so good it has been a wonderful experience. I am currently doing an extensive literature review as well as preparing for my first proposal presentation to the department for approval.

CLOSING REMARKS


Firstly, I want to thank the Pan African Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) for the Ph.D. degree-seeking program and for according me this wonderful opportunity. This is a program that is funded by the Intra-Africa Mobility Scheme with the European Commission of the European Union as sponsors. Your scheme has given many talented and brilliant Africans hope. Well-done!

Most importantly, my deep and sincere gratitude goes to the project coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi, the project Manager Mrs. Chakandinakira Gadibotsile and the entire selection committee for their fair and honest selection which has made me a beneficiary of the PAPSSN project. Furthermore, my sincere gratitude goes to my supervisor Prof Golden Nyambuya, Co-Supervisor Dr. Joseph Simfukwe, and my host Dr. Prospery Simpemba.  It has been a pleasure working with you so far and I am optimistic that as our work proceeds, we will have much better days to come. Your love, care, and swift response to my demands are unprecedented.

Lastly but not least, I thank the Management of the Copperbelt University: the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar, the Deputy Registrar Academics, the Dean of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, the University finance unit and my family, friends and loved once for their support and prompt responses to my demands. I am deeply grateful to you all. God bless you abundantly.

Few months ago things weren’t as I planned… I was feeling like putting my studies on hold, because of financial constraints for my research. And then…, Boom!!! the PAPSSN Masters Crediting seeking mobility scholarship appeared with a three-day application deadline remaining. But let me start from the beginning…

My names are Mazuba M Kumwenda from Zambia. I am a student at The Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe doing MSc Physics (Cosmology). I started my MSc program on a self-sponsorship basis in August 2020. Throughout the years, I had financial challenges not knowing how to pay my tuition fees. But motivation and passion were driving me. I never gave up. Around July 2021 I wrote the exams in which I hard exceptional results.

Looking backward there were hardship and sacrifice. The main challenge ahead was now to finance my research project, which at that particular moment I could not manage. I don’t have to be the one telling you how hard is to source funds for graduate research in Africa.

And with this we arrive at the 3-day deadline…

While I was looking for funds to pay for my research project with the help of my supervisor Dr. Simpemba P (from home institution CBU), I came across the PanAfrican Planetary and Space Science Network (PAPSSN) masters credit seeking program. A mobility project which is funded by the Intra-Africa Mobility Scheme of the Education Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission of the European Union. With only three days remaining before the application due date, I applied at Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST) to do research in Cosmology, with a little hope of being picked as the application clearly started that only one candidate would be selected for the position from Zambia. I poured my soul in that application, I knew I did my best to shine as an MSc student, but sometimes that isn’t enough.

Few months later, I received an email about my application having been successful. Filled with joy and happiness I immediately started preparing all the necessary documents for travelling (not easy in this pandemic era). Since the scholarship is fully funded, they provided for insurance tuition fees, and the return air tickets. I was supposed to travel on 2nd November 2021.

I must say this was a wonderful experience to me as it was my first time ever to board on a plane. I arrived in Gaborone the same day in the evening. The following morning, I was driven to Palapye (where BIUST is located) where I met with the project coordinator Prof. Fulvio Franchi, my supervisor Dr. Adams Duniya (from host institution BIUST) and other Staff members.

I was given a familiarization tour by one of the postgrad students (thank you Karabo!) around BIUST campus a splendid newly built campus with cutting-edge facilities. Within a few weeks I was able to adapt to the change of environment. With the help from the staff at BIUST I was able to register as a student and then right away started working on my project.

I have been fortunate enough to get all the exposure and experience through this same project, in this regard I would like to thank all the people who are behind this mobility project and I wish they continue to reach-out to many more students in this manner.

The Consortium Board and the Selection Committee are pleased to announce the list of awardees for the scholarships advertised with PAPSSN first call.

Selected candidates [ download ]
Reserve List [ download ]

For more information and details on the selection procedure please contact us at info@papssnmobility.org

Congratulations to all the awardees and good luck with your visit and your career.

The PAPSSN Team

Applications are invited from African nationals for scholarships in the fields of Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space and Planetary Science, Planetary Geology and Remote Sensing. PAPSSN scholarships are jointly administered by five (5) African partner institutions, where selected students and staff will be able to engage in postgraduate studies, research, teaching or training.

THIS SPECIAL PAPSSN CALL OFFERS 2 (TWO) FULLY FUNDED, FULL DEGREE-SEEKING PHD OPPORTUNITIES OF 48 MONTHS’ DURATION FOR STUDY AT ADDIS ABABA UNIVERSITY (ETHIOPIA), COMMENCING IN JANUARY 2022.

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Title: Workshop – Satellite for Space Science and Technology in Africa

Europlanet, University of Bologna and BIUST are organizing a workshop titled “Satellite for Space Science and Technology in Africa” as part of EPN 2024 RI WorkshopSeries

Dates: 15.11.2021 – 19.11.2021
Venue: BIUST, Palapye, Botswana

The workshop will be hybrid, with few participants in attendance at BIUST and othen attending virtually.More details here: https://eventi.unibo.it/epn24-botswana-workshop

REGISTER NOW: https://eventi.unibo.it/epn24-botswana-workshop/europlanet-global-collaboration-workshop-series-botswana

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