Partnering with leading tech companies to bring together chemists in Africa
The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Pan Africa Chemistry Network Congress, sponsored by Agilent Technologies and Syngenta, was held in Accra, Ghana, in November 2017.
The Congress had sustainable agriculture as its theme, and brought together scientists from West Africa, as well as from across Africa and the rest of the world.
Agilent Technologies sent representatives from Europe and from their network of distributors across Africa, representing South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso.
Dr Helen Driver, who leads the Pan Africa Chemistry Network (PACN), explains how important this networking opportunity was for the delegates. "One of the challenges of carrying out scientific research in Africa is gaining access to high quality equipment that’s properly installed and maintained. For our community the distributors are the people who can help.
"Researchers at the conference were able to meet the teams who could help them access not only the equipment they need but, crucially, expertise in installation and troubleshooting.
"In turn the PACN is a brilliant way for companies like Agilent and Syngenta to access a network of some of the best chemical scientists in Africa for collaboration opportunities and business connections, as well as to share research outputs and knowledge. We look forward to continuing to work with them in the future to support African science."
Andreas Kistner, Senior Director, Agilent International Distributors, says: "We are delighted to be working with the Royal Society of Chemistry in Africa, they have a unique ability to bring together key communities from the chemical sciences across the continent. Agilent has some fantastic products that can help support excellence in African science, enabling the community to work towards solving the challenges faced by the continent. We look forward to continuing to work with the PACN to support African science."
Around 250 people attended the congress, which was held in the Accra International Conference Centre – Ghana’s flagship conference venue.
The topics covered ranged from pesticides and soil science, to mechanisation and the economics of farming. Many of the talks focused on food safety, and the need for African produce to comply with international regulations, in order for it to be suitable for export. There was also a section of the conference dedicated to cocoa farming, which was attended by the Cocoa Research Institute of Nigeria, the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana and the University of Reading, UK, among others.
The delegates represented a wide range of expertise in science and research, and made the most of the opportunities to make new contacts and form collaborations and business arrangements.
"The atmosphere was fantastic", said Helen. "The delegates were really engaged and proactive and there was a high level of discussion in all the presentations. The congress was a great opportunity for everyone to network and share expertise, and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes out of these new collaborations."
INASP’s AuthorAid programme also supported the event by running a training workshop for early career scientists.