Science in Africa

Last month, the National Institutes of Health announced a new initiative to strengthen medical education in Sub-Saharan Africa, in collaboration with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, known as PEPFAR. This program is in support of PEPFAR’s goal to increase the number of new health care workers by 140,000, and will also serve the related objectives of strengthening host-country medical education systems and enhancing clinical and research capacity in Africa.

A Thomson Reuters report found that Africa’s contribution to the global body of scientific research is very small due to a "chronic lack of investment in facilities for research and teaching" – something which the authors of the report hope is remedied soon. The report noted that South Africa Egypt and Nigeria currently dominate the continent’s scientific output.

Meanwhile the BBC hosted a debate last week entitled ‘Is science Africa’s doorway to success?’, following the establishment of Ethiopia’s first science academy. Readers were asked ‘Should African governments pour more money into science? Or concentrate on business and trade?’. All comments can be found at the BBC website.

In another article regarding the Ethiopian Academy of Sciences, Linda Nordling examines its recent launch,  noting that hopes for government funding and independence remain high despite concerns over academic freedom.

South Africa is vying for a place in an international competition to host what will be the world’s biggest radio telescope, highlighting the mounting economic interest in ‘big science’ projects around the world. A remote spot in South Africa’s Karoo desert hopes to provide a home to one of the most powerful scientific instruments in history, to shed light on how the universe began.

Finally, science journalists in Africa are to participate in a mentoring programme established by the World Federation of Science Journalists in conjunction with the UK’s Department for International Development. The CAD$4.3-million (R31.5-million) SjCOOP project pairs experienced science journalists with beginners and offers training in Arabic, French and English.

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