Oct 6, 2015
AWARD participates in first science forum in South Africa

Twenty three AWARD Fellows, Mentors and Mentees participated in the inaugural Science Forum, sponsored by the National Research Foundation, in South Africa from 8th -9th December 2015. The forum brought together scientists, government officials, industry leaders, students and representatives from boarder civil society. The theme of the meeting was “Igniting Conversations About Science”. The Science Forum program comprised of several plenary and parallel sessions addressing a diverse range of science and exhibitions.

“The Science Forum was an exciting event that brought together all the countries in Africa to discuss strategies of how best to accelerate the progress of science in Africa. In doing so, the occasion contributed towards a culture of open discussion and access to science, technology and innovation,” reported AWARD Fellow Jeff-Agboola.

Globally, the role of science as a tool for growth and development has become highly notable, as an integral means of advancing science and development. It is against this backdrop, that South Africa’s Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor convened this forum. Dubbed a “public science” event,  the Pretoria forum attracted over 1,500 participants, and offered a platform for discussion and debate on the role of science in South African and African society as well as globally.

“I particularly enjoyed the great diversity of interesting topics that the forum addressed ?through its parallel and plenary sessions. The thematic parallel sessions of my interest were those that addressed governing science, technology and innovation to secure the sustainable development goals in Africa and the science agenda for Africa,” explains Ifeoluwa Olotu, another AWARD Fellow. “Apart from the series of innovative material I gathered from the forum, I enjoyed the networking platform that it created as I was able to meet and interact with distinguished scientists in various fields who were also from different countries around the world. ?Various technologies were also demonstrated by the many exhibitors and a lot of career and study opportunities were promoted. There was also a session in which awards were given on science diplomacy and exhibition. I was also glad to see and interact with other AWARD Fellows and Mentors, including alumni.”

A major call to action for the participants attending this maiden Science Forum was the need to purposively call on their respective institutions and governments to channel more investments into science, technology and innovation in order to create solutions for the challenges faced in Africa.

“Although I have been an academician for a long time and I have attended a number of conferences this forum was unique in its organization and coverage,” shared Dr. Salome Mutayoba, Associate Professor at the Sokoine University of Agriculture and an AWARD alumni. Still excited about being part of the AWARD delegation at the forum, Mutayoba noted that the presence of high ranking persons from South Africa and other parts of the world, elevated the importance of science in innovation and development in Africa. “This forum showed that science has no borders and it does not segregate people, regardless of age or sex. In order to succeed in science one needs to collaborate with people from other parts of the world. Innovation, innovative minds and networking are very necessary for success. In Africa we are still faced with a number of challenges but with commitment, cooperation and forums like these, we will get there,” she explains.


This article has been written with collaboration from the AWARD participants in the First Science Forum in South Africa: Ana Lidia Gungulo, Amleset Haile, Yemisi Jeff-Agboola, Mphangera Kamanga, Monica Kungaro, Jendeka Mahasi, Patricia Mayuni, Prisila Mkenda, Tesfashbamlak Molla, Salome Mutayoba, Sharon Ndandula, Nora Ndege, Njeri Njau, Esnart Nyirenda, Lucia Ogunsumi, Adeola Olajide, Mirriam Phiri, Alganesh Tola, Deborah Wendiro, Catherine Sakala, Margarida Simbine, Ifeoluwa Olotu and Sonia Naidoo.



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