Time and again scientists will use equipment that isn’t fully optimised, just because they don’t know how to do it.
Training analytical chemists in sub-Saharan Africa
The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Pan Africa Chemistry Network, in partnership with a number of multinational companies and universities, is working to address these problems, and in 2015 the PACN agreed a five-year partnership with GSK to fund an analytical science training programme.
The programme built on a volunteer-led training scheme started in 2004 by Anthony Gachanja at JKUAT, and the partnership has allowed it to expand across the PACN hubs, which are based at universities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.
The training workshops initially focused on GC-MS (gas chromatography mass spectrometry), and have now expanded to include LC-MS. The techniques are complementary, and both are crucial in analytical chemistry. They are used in everything from environmental monitoring and food safety, to forensic science and medicine.
Anthony is one of the lead trainers on the programme, and his involvement has helped it go from strength to strength. In 2017 the PACN ran six week-long training courses across four countries, training over 90 researchers. The programme aims to train at least 400 analytical chemists by 2020.
As well as providing training, the PACN helps universities acquire the resources they need, and in 2010 started working with Giles Edwards and his charity, RORO, to send equipment to some of the PACN hubs.