Report on the AMASA meeting in collaboration with the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) and the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC), with participation of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS)
The AMASA meeting took place from 6 to 9 November 2016 in Gauteng, South Africa and was hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) in collaboration with the South African Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) with active participation of the South African Young Academy of Science (SAYAS). It was held at the Imbizo rooms 4 and 5, Garden Court OR Tambo international airport, South Africa. It was a meeting that drew participants from within and outside the African continent, but with bias for Africa and African development. Accommodation was also provided for the international participants at the same hotel that hosted the meeting.
On arrival on 6 November, the New Zealand High Commission and ASSAf hosted all participants to a sumptuous dinner. The Vice Presidents of ASSAf and NASAC gave welcome addresses, and Dr Maphyla Ramphele of the Nelson Mandela Foundation gave a keynote address at the beginning of the next day. The meeting was divided into five major sub themes of which two sub themes were covered on each of the two first days, and the fifth theme started in the afternoon of the last day.
The second day of the meeting began after the welcome addresses with Theme 1 – Food Security and Agriculture and Theme 2 – Social Determinants of Health. Theme 3 – Gender and Poverty and Theme 4 – Water, Energy and Poverty was covered on the third day of the meeting on 8 November. Several outstanding speakers did justices to the topics given to them under the different themes, while the facilitators for each theme were excellent in managing time and presentations.
Just before Theme 4 was to conclude, the SAYAS coordinator pulled out representatives of each of the young academies of different countries present including the Global Young Academy. 15 young academies from seven different countries in Africa – Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe were in attendance and participated actively in all the activities that the SAYAS coordinator and also the meeting convener, Dr Tolu Oni mapped out. A communiqué was issued as a working document for the next young academies meeting, which will be made public after all the African young academies have ratified and approved it.
The young academies meeting was rounded up with a charge of hitting the ground running to ensure mainstreaming of the views of the young academies in decisions that affect the African continent, especially on poverty reduction, food security, water and health and climate change.
- The meeting underscored the importance of the views of young academies in decision-making on all issues on the African continent in regard to sustainability.
- The meeting was an eye-opener on the strength in unity and diversity of different young academies in Africa irrespective of the language and location for a common goal of developing Africa and Africans.
- The drive, vigor and enthusiasm showed by the young academies is also a pointer to the readiness of the young African scientists in solving the myriads of challenges confronting the African continent.
- Cross fertilization of ideas, networking and making opportunities for self-development available to colleagues and contemporaries that may not be privileged to having such information is also key to capacity building from the contextual perspective of eradicating poverty and most extreme forms of lack and insufficiency.
A heart of gratitude to the GYA for sponsoring me to the meeting to be part of what my African colleagues scientists are doing and then to be able to contribute meaningfully to development that could be useful in poverty reduction in Nigeria.
Report by: Dr Christopher Oluwakunmi Akinbile (GYA/NYA representative; Nigerian Young Academy)
- “Africa’s health won’t improve without reliable data and collaboration”
- South African Young Academy of Sciences’ Conference Statement