Asogwa Moses Onyemaechi – My PAPSSN PhD Mobility Experience at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

October 7, 2022

The Preamble

After obtaining an M. Sc., degree in astrophysics in 2021 from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), I decided to listen to the wise words of Ralph Walden Emerson- “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better”. This experiment took me to Ghana. During this ‘experiment’, I went of the academic field, as I found myself working as a store keeper and typist at E-Power Dynamic System, Ghana. I had barely worked at the company for three months, before I was notified of the PAPSSN scholarship advertisement by a good friend of mine, Mr. Eze Christian from UNN.

The news of the scholarship got to me very late, but nevertheless, I decided to give it a try, as it’s often said that there’s no harm in trial. I began the application process few weeks from the deadline of the call. At this time, I began having a second thought, that I have embarked in a fruitless journey, but remembering that fortune favors only the bold, I decided to push on.

Nomination for the PAPSSN Mobility Scholarship Offer

After the upload of the M. Sc. transcript, I decided to patiently await in prayers the outcome of the application, as it’s often said that good things come to those who wait for it.

To God be the glory, in the evening of the 7th of December 2021, after closing from my working place, I decided to check my mails in my phone and to my greatest surprise, I bumped at the email from the PAPSSN coordinator, notifying me that I have been nominated for the mobility scholarship programme. I can tell you, that I immediately went on cloud nine as my joy knew no bounds. This was how I made a comeback to academics, as I had already found myself in a non-academic field.

Preparation for My Study Trip

Upon receiving the good news of the PAPSSN nomination for the mobility programme, I notified my Boss about it. He wished me well and gave me one week to update my store records and handover to the company manager.

After that, I traveled back to Nigeria my country to process my traveling documents. I arrived Nigeria on the 18th of December 2021. However, due to the Christmas and new year celebrations that were already at hand, I could not apply for an international passport at the Nigerian Immigration office immediately. I applied for it after the festive seasons were over. According to them, it will take at least three weeks for it to be ready, since it’s a new passport. To the glory of God, it became ready on the 14th of February 2022.

No doubt, the long time it took to process my international passport, lead to a delay in the authentication of my academic credentials at the Nigerian Ministries of Education and Foreign affairs. This in turn, lead to my late report at Addis Ababa University (AAU), Ethiopia.

Thanks to Ms Kebonye (BIUST), who on the order of the PAPSSN coordinator, made immediate arrangements for my flight ticket to Ethiopia and on the 25th of March 2022, I arrived the Bole International Airport, Ethiopia.

My Experience at Addis Ababa University

My Experience at Addis Ababa University

My arrival at the Bole International Airport, was greeted by a very serene environment. I arrived the airport around 11:30 pm and to my amazement, the driver the AAU PAPSSN contact person Prof Teshome Senbeta sent for me, was already at the airport and we immediately headed to AAU.

I took the Graduate Admission Test of AAU the next week (passed it!) and equally got my documents authenticated. Sequel to that, I obtained my resident permit and I became very relaxed to interact with these great people.

I came to the realization, that Ethiopia is blessed with very beautiful environment and people that have very rich cultural heritage. Honestly, the beauty here is exceptional and so far, I have been enjoying the company of these great people and their serene environment. Have equally began enjoying some of their native foods like Tibes ferfer (https://ethiopianfoodguide.com) and I look forward to learning how to prepare some of these foods.

My Research Work so Far

I began attending lectures at AAU on the 5th of April and wrote the first semester examinations on Phys 851-Cosmology, Phys 885-Quantum Electrodynamics and Phys 895-Seminar I in July, 2022. As “a dream does not become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work,” our determination and hard works paid off, as I obtained good grades in these courses.

The second semester will soon start and we are going to be faced with the remaining courses: Phys 892-Special Topics, Phys 896-Seminar II and Phys 899-dissertation.

I wish to thank in a special way, the PAPSSN coordinator, Prof. Fulvio Franchi and his team for their supports and the wonderful work they have been doing for the sustainability of the programme.

My appreciation also goes to my supervisor, Dr. F. F. Dirirsa, for his wonderful supervisions and encouragements.

Finally, my sincere appreciation goes to the AAU PAPSSN contact person, Dr. Teshome Senbeta, for being there for us at all times. Indeed, your cooperation and supports have made us to feel very welcomed and relaxed at both AAU and in Ethiopia.

Long live PAPSSN, long live the PAPSSN member countries, and the entire PAPSSN team.

God bless you all.

My Research Work so Far

Life after a master’s degree

Reuben – Life after a master’s degree

There is a saying that “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. This is a piece of advice which means that one should not concentrate all efforts and resources in one area as one could lose everything. However, I decided to ignore this piece of advice. After graduating from the Russian State Hydrometeorological university, I had an offer from my then supervisor to continue a PhD programme under the Russian government scholarship. I decided to turn the offer down and focus on the Centre for Satellite Data in Environmental Science ( SENSE)  scholarship. The offer perfectly aligned with my PhD aspirations of conducting research in space and atmosphere sciences. In addition, the certificate after the programme is designed to feature the logos of the four core institutions involved in the training: the Universities of Edinburgh, Leeds, the National Oceanography Centre and the British Antarctic Survey . The question is, who wouldn’t like to receive that certificate? In spite of the numerous applications received, I made it to the top 40 applicants for the scholarship. I was optimistic about being selected, but to be no avail. The United Kingdom policy allowed the programme to fund only three international students. I was sad and heartbroken about the result. Devastated as it was, I left Russia for Ghana to start looking for a job and other offers. A lesson I have learnt in life is that you keep on pushing and believing until it becomes a reality. I always believed that something better was on my way ,and I needed to be patient. 

“The people you meet climbing the ladder are the same people you meet when descending, so be nice to everybody in this life of adventure”. Back at the undergraduate level, I had built good relationship with colleagues and course-mates, and this relationship saved me from a downhearted life after second degree. On the 20th of December, 2021, I received a call from a colleague about the PAPSSN scholarship. After the call,I quickly went to the PAPSSN website to read about their aims and goals. I found their core mission to align with my PhD aspirations.

PAPSSN journey

Upon hearing the good news from my colleague, I was left with 1-2weeks to submit my application before the offer expired. I had to prepare the necessary documents and apply for PhD scholarship at Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia). Days and weeks passed, and no news had been heard from the PAPSSN coordinator and the scholarship board. Once again, I was confident about the outcome of the results.

Finally, the good news arrived on the 6th of December, 2021. My heart and soul were engulfed with joy and happiness. I received a letter from PAPSSN coordinator (Prof Fulvio Franchi, BIUST) confirming my scholarship offer. After accepting the offer, I contacted the coordinator at the Host Institution (Prof. Teshome Senbeta) to inquire about the process for enrolment.

Nitty gritty and challenges

Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” a quote by Joshua J. Marine. After accepting the offer, I needed to apply for a visa and authenticate my documents. The process became a nightmare. Getting a student visa became an obstacle in my mobility process. At that moment, the embassy (Ethiopian embassy) had stopped issuing paper visas, and every visa acquisition was done through the online system. However, the online portal excluded information about student visas from the website. Once the visa issue was sorted (more or less) I was ready to go. But, a day before my departure to Ethiopia, I tested positive for COVID-19 and couldn’t embark the trip. I was placed on medication for two weeks to recover. I was left with two weeks before my temporary visa to expire.

Life in Ethiopia (6 months later)

Finally, on 28th January 2022, I embarked my trip to Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia) to commence my studies. I left Ghana at 12: 00 pm (GMT) and got to Bole International Airport at 9:30 pm (EAT). Already the host coordinator had assigned someone to pick me up at the airport. On campus, he had prepared a conducive room at the International students’ hostel to accommodate me. The welcome I received from the Host university was exquisite.

One week after my arrival, I sat for the Graduate Admission Test (GAT) and got accepted to the university’s PhD programme. 

Next on the itinerary was a residence permit. Once again, the host coordinator appointed someone to assist me in the process. A week afterwards, I received my residence ID card. Now,I can linger in Addis Ababa and its surroundings without any predicament.

Once I was done with the university and the immigration processes, I finally enrolled as a Postgraduate student at Addis Ababa University. As usual, I registered for the courses for the semester and began attending class. I was introduced to my supervisor (Dr Gemechu Fanta) and other teaching and non-teaching staff. I was paid my settling-in and monthly stipend as stated in the agreement form. 

During the first semester, I took Seminar IThe Middle Atmosphere  and Computational Atmospheric and Space Physics. I took the seminar course with my supervisor. He, Dr Gemechu Fanta coached me on how to prepare for the seminar. He has been more than a supervisor. His support, coaching and desire to see me succeed are overwhelmingAs of now, I have completed the semester’s courses and looking forward to the coming semester. Next semester, I will register for seminar II and special topics. The special- topics are related to my research topic (Investigation of lower-upper atmospheric and ionospheric coupling with remote sensing and model simulations). Given this, I will take Advance plasma physics and Thermospheric dynamics.

In life People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing. I cannot only talk about academics and leave social life behind. To enjoy Ethiopia, One has to taste their native food “Injera. As a routine with my friends, twice every week, we eat Injera, thus Ties frere and play football. 

PAPSSN benefits

As part of the measures by the PAPSSN consortium to ensure proper research and education, I received a brand new laptop from the host coordinator through the research fund. Moreover, the scholarship allocates 900 euros as a monthly stipend. And, I am happy to say that, this money always reflects in my account monthly. In addition to this, the PAPSSN consortium has our health matters at heart.

Remarks

There is a saying “ Give credit to whom credit is due” I would like to thank the PAPSSN consortium for giving me this opportunity to enroll in this scholarship. Special thanks go to Profs Fulvio Franchi and Teshome Senbeta, they have been very supportive of this course. Sincere gratitude to Mrs Chakandinakia Gadibotsile and Mrs Kebonye Tebogo for their assistance in purchasing insurance and flight ticket.

Also, heartfelt gratitude goes to my able supervisors Dr Gemechu Fanta, Profs Gizaw M. Tsidu & Leonard K.Amekudzi for their selfless effort toward my research. I say God bless you.

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 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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