Kenyan launch of Chemistry Network for Africa


23 May 2008

The Royal Society of Chemistry and Syngenta, the world-leading plant science business, are launching the Pan Africa Chemistry Network on May 27 to support future economic development of the continent. 

The initiative, eventually to span the whole continent, is being established initially in Kenya, as the first regional hub.

The Nairobi network will be complemented by a satellite in Addis Ababa.

The event is being chaired by Professor Shem Wandiga, former Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nairobi, and chair of the Kenya hub.

Amongst the guests joining scientists will be the British High Commissioner in Nairobi, Mr Adam Wood.

Professor Mohamed Hassan, who is President of the Network of African Science Academies as well as Chief Executive of TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world, will speak about promotion of science, technology and innovation in Africa.

The event will include workshops at which leading scientists from around the continent will set the priorities of the Pan Africa Chemistry network hub.  Topics for discussion include chemical sciences and education, health, food, agriculture and energy.

The Kenyan hub of the network was created through a 1 million grant from Syngenta and will focus upon sustainable agricultural initiatives such as food security and sustainability, the enhancement of biodiversity and clean water plus disease prevention. 

Dr David Lawrence, Head of R&D at Syngenta, said "The Pan Africa Chemistry Network will play an important role in enabling scientists to communicate more effectively. It will also assist in the vital task of improving scientific education in schools and universities. This will help build local capability and capacity in order to translate the Millennium Development Goals into reality". 

Dr Richard Pike, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: "The purpose of the network is to connect African chemists more effectively and to enable them to achieve greater levels of innovation and scientific development.  The support of Syngenta has been invaluable."

Fellowships and grants will be awarded to chemists to enhance networking, technology transfer and skills development by facilitating international mobility of key scientists.  

Another platform of the network will be an educational outreach programme, encouraging children and their teachers to learn first hand about practical applications of chemistry through an annual schools science competition.

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