Building Capacity for Science & Technology in Africa

31 March 2015

During his recent visit to CAPRISA, Professor Berhanu Abegaz, Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) met with senior CAPRISA staff to gain insights into how to establish a world class research institute  in Africa. 

During meetings with CAPRISA’s senior leadership he explored the organisation’s vision and goals and met with administrative and science support staff to appreciate the synergy between components of the Centre.  Systems to manage multiple grants, research support cores, research infrastructure were of particular interest to him.

The AAS, which was established in 1985, aims to be a major player in ‘driving sustainable development in Africa through science, technology and innovation’. Professor Abegaz said an academy needed to work closely with the government it was associated with as well as with the ‘political echelons’ but it also had to maintain its distance to ensure independence.   

Professor Abegaz delivered a public lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) titled: Capacity Building for Science and Technology in Africa – an African Academy of Sciences Perspective hosted by UKZN Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Deresh Ramjugernath. In his lecture Professor Abegaz highlighted the challenges and opportunities facing Africa and said that the future of the continent depended on the youth, its greatest asset. He outlined the AAS Young Affiliates’ Programme which is aimed at early to mid-career professionals and emphasised the value of inspiring young people and providing good mentors to nurture the next generation of research leadership. He said a total of 25 affiliates will be selected every year and provided with ‘inspirational, tangible support’ for five years.

The AAS has a strategic partnership with the African Union and NEPAD and has honoured over 300 fellows, three of whom are Nobel Prize winners. It is open to all sciences - life and physical sciences, applied and social sciences and the humanities, including indigenous knowledge. “Our academy is an academy of all knowledge and is not discipline specific or restricted to any discipline,” said Abegaz.