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Interdisciplinary Research Centre

“It's been eye-opening to see the world from so many different angles. Cambridge creates a dynamic learning environment where everyone has something valuable to contribute,” says Mastercard Foundation Scholar Itumeleng Sebata.

Itumeleng is one of six Scholars from Africa currently undertaking an engineering-related Master’s degree at Cambridge. Itumeleng and her peers are among a wider cohort of 46 Scholars, who are drawn from 18 different African countries, and who are studying a range of subjects during the 2023-24 academic year as part of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

Established in 2022 as a collaboration between the University and the Mastercard Foundation, more than 500 Scholars from the African continent will have enrolled in the Program by 2030. This fully funded opportunity to complete a one-year Master’s degree, also involves developing transformative leadership skills and aims to contribute to climate resilience and sustainable futures in Africa.


Chibuzor Ndubisi, MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development (ESD)

Chibuzor, from Nigeria, has ambitions to drive change in Africa’s energy sector and confront a pressing challenge facing his community – the lack of stable energy.

Chibuzor (Magdalene College) was drawn to the MPhil in ESD because he aims to commercialise breakthrough energy innovations for African communities, upscale climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, and transform industries dependent on energy – each with a sustainability-focused and human-centred philosophy.

“I grew up watching my parents struggle unduly to ensure that we had power in our home,” he said. “I’d seen businesses crumble, plans fail, and dreams die because of Nigeria’s energy crisis. I’d read and heard reports of children developing chronic illnesses due to breathing in fumes from generators.”

He added: “As I advanced in education, I came to better understand how critical energy was to Nigeria’s development and how we were being stifled in its lack thereof. Today, this energy challenge has become interwoven with the global mandate for sustainable development. But although this increases the complexity of the problem, it also makes me more excited than I’ve ever been as an engineer. My mission is to address what I’ve termed Africa’s ‘energy paradox’: transitioning to clean energy technologies, while expanding energy access on the continent. The MPhil in ESD has so far proven to be a transformative step on this journey.”

We asked Chibuzor to describe what it is like being a Mastercard Foundation Scholar.

He replied: “Being a Mastercard Foundation Scholar in Cambridge provides access to distinguished people in all spheres of life, a portfolio boost due to the University’s reputation, and most importantly, a thriving community of Africans. To say that the Mastercard Foundation has made Cambridge a ‘home away from home’ for us would be an understatement.

“I can’t put into words how great it feels to be in such a place as Cambridge. Even more impressive than its intellectual density per unit area (I’m an engineer, don’t blame me!), the University overflows with diversity in its makeup. I’ve met people from countries large and small, heard stories historic and contemporary, and I’ve learned something from everyone I’ve met and tried to offer something of myself in return. This means everything to me.”

Original Department of Engineering article.