Call for expression of interest – for forming and leading a VREF African Research Program on Mobility and Access in African Cities (MAC-ARP)

The Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) invite researchers at universities (and research institutes of academic standing) to submit Expressions of Interest (EoI) to establish and lead a VREF African Research Program in the area of “Mobility & Access in African Cities” (ARP-MAC). Deadline for submission was 2 October (23.59 GMT) 2023. The outcomes of this call will be announced later this year.

VREF will fund up to three separate ARP-MACs, one in each of the following thematic areas:

  • Equitable, affordable and reliable access to livelihoods, services, and opportunities in sub-Saharan African cities
  • Power, planning and governance of mobility in sub-Saharan African cities: institutional arrangements, politics, finance and management
  • New service options and business models for efficient, accessible transport in sub-Saharan African cities

The three ARP-MACs are expected to be operational by mid-2024.


This is where we publish and answer questions regarding the Call.
If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact us via

Q: Could you please inform me about the specific time of closure of the application? The guidelines mention a date, but when will you close to receive applications exactly? Is it 23:59? If so, in which time zone, GMT or other?
A: It is 23:59 GMT (always GMT)

Q: Can I be in two consortiums that are working on the expression of interest?
A: Yes!

Q: For Annex 1, it is said: Summary CVs (max 3 pages) of main applicant, key researchers, and other key participants in the proposed ARP-MAC.
A: It is 3 pages per person so as you have 6 persons that will be 3×6 = 18 pages.

Q: If we are having the cities with us as stakeholders, but not as part of the consortium, do you need some kind of Letter of Intention or other kind of document to show their commitment for the project as part of this Expression of Interest application?
A: Letters of Support can be good to add in this case as they are going to give their support as stakeholders.

Q:  Consortium partners: can researcher partners come from outside SSA or a combination of both?
A: As specified in the Call, an EoI for establishing an African Research Program must include at least 2-3 researchpartners in different countries and/or regions in sub-Saharan Africa. There is no restriction for including additional partners outside of sub-Saharan Africa. As also noted in the Call, VREF encourages applications that facilitate collaboration and exchange among researchers within the African continent and internationally beyond Africa.

Q:  Can NGOs in SSA be part of the consortium?
A:  Yes, NGOs in SSA may be part of the consortium when motivated and appropriate for achieving the goals of the proposed program.

Q:  What is the geographical scope of consortium partners? for instance can three consortium partners come from west Africa or should be it from other parts of SSA?
A: There is no requirement that the geographical scope of the consortium partners must include more than one region; however, the EoI must include at least 2-3 research partners in different countries (see above).

Q:  Regarding VREF’s independence from industry – my research institution is very sensitive to conflict of interests and being awake to commercial determinants of health. Does VREF have material that speaks specifically to this?
A: VREF does not support development of commercial products of any kind, nor support research that can be discreetly beneficial for any private company. All results from VREF funded research should be made publically available, and all VREF processes of grant making are transparent. Partners from industry may be included in the proposed consortium if/when motivated and appropriate for achieving the goals of the proposed program.

Q: Can PhD students who are originally from SSA and studying in Europe be included as partners?
A: Yes, PhD students who are originally from SSA but now studying at European universities may be included if their respective institutions/departments and universities are included as partners in the consortium.

Q: Some grant calls facilitate would-be applicants/EoI submissions meeting each other. Is there anywhere on VREF:s site that helps with this?

A: No, VREF does not have any mechanism or channel for facilitating contact between would-be applicants (nor do we have advance knowledge of who these applicants may be). Instead, any exchange or collaboration between applicants should take place at the initiative of the applicants themselves.