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Introducing new member of the ISC, the Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa

The Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa (SASA) joined the ISC as an Affiliate Member at the start of 2020. In this brief interview, we hear more about the society and its activities.

The Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa (SASA) was launched in 2011 by African scientists in Africa and elsewhere around the world, and participating scientist friends of Africa from the USA, Canada, Europe, China, India and Brazil. The Society recently joined the Council as an Affiliate Member, and we took the opportunity to find out more.

Q: Can you tell us more about the organization – what does it do, and who are its members?

SASA is a Not-for-Profit Non-Governmental Charitable International Organization registered in Canada. It is regionally represented in North America, Africa, Asia and Europe. Following the launch in 2011, SASA was inaugurated and held its First Annual International Scientific Conference under the theme “The Advancement of Science in Africa” in April 2013 at the University of Limpopo, South Africa.

Following the resounding success of that first conference, SASA has held international annual conferences in different countries across Africa, and in North America. We hope to hold conferences in Europe, Asia and South America in the coming years. SASA’s membership is diverse and international. Membership is open to any individual, organization or institution that subscribes to SASA’s vision of advancement of science to improve the economic, health and social conditions in Africa. SASA’s mission is reflected in its programmes which include:

  • Annual conferences
  • Research Excellence and Fellowship Award (REFA) programme
  • University Collaboration and Brain Circulation programme
  • Science Fairs for High School Students programme
  • Student Mentoring and using Internet Resources to Advance Science programme
  • Community Research Worker and Citizen Science Training programme
  • Code of Conduct, Ethics and Academic Integrity
  • Health Surveillance and Promotion
  • Funding Science in Africa Using African Resources
  • Publication

Why does being part of the ISC matter to your organization and its members?

By being part of the ISC, SASA would benefit by expanding its cast of contacts and links with member organizations of the ISC. It will also make SASA known more widely, facilitating potential partnerships with other ISC members and other organizations.  Such partnerships could enhance SASA’s global outreach and the impact of its programmes and projects. SASA’s comprehensive pan Africanist vision, multidisciplinary focus and its diverse membership are its strength. The society’s members include researchers, academics, professionals and others who have a special interest in advancing science and economic development in Africa. Our members work in a variety of domains including government, universities, institutes, and medical settings. By being part of the ISC, SASA hopes to facilitate collaborations and partnerships between its members and the wider membership of the ISC.  Such links could enhance, compliment and supplement the activities, projects and programmes of the ISC in Africa and beyond; it will, in fact, extend the cast and nature of ISC activities.

Q: What are your key priorities for the next few years? What do you see as the key priorities for science in the coming years?

SASA’s focus is multidisciplinary and focus areas include biomedical and health sciences, genetics and genomics, agriculture fisheries, energy, engineering, technology, environmental science, mining and metallurgy, African women in science and ethics of doing science in Africa. Our key priorities will reflect our multidisciplinary focus.

  • Facilitating  scientific publications by early career African scholars,
  • Promoting Africa-sourced funding of science in Africa,
  • Partnering  with African governments in promoting science in Africa,
  • Advising African governments about science policy,
  • Holding joint scientific conferences with African academic institutions and government agencies,
  • Encouraging African High School Students to participate in science and competitive science fairs.
  • Promoting a Pan African Code of Scientific Conduct, Ethics and Academic Integrity

Priorities for science will differ in different regions of the world. In Africa the key priorities for science include overcoming the challenges of:

  • building science capacity, lack of funding, faulty funding and/or corrupt use of funding,
  • translating African science results into policy and lack of appropriate and effective mechanisms,
  • holding Pan-African Science conferences in which scientists actually discussed the challenges to them doing their work, and the challenges to their work being (a) relevant, and (b) used….in Africa,
  • science publication in Africa  and shaping research to answer African questions
  • publishing quality and fraud-free Africa based journals of science,
  • loss of African scientists, either physically or in terms of research agenda
  • increasing African women’s participation in science

Q: We recently published our Action Plan for the next three years. Delivering the projects in the plan will depend on close working with our members. Are there any of the projects that you are particularly interested to get involved with?

SASA’s programmes and key priorities listed above are also reflected in the list of projects and programmes listed under each of the four domains of the ISC 2019 – 2021 Action Plan. SASA is particularly interested to get involved with all projects developed under the Evolution of Science and Science Systems domain and most projects under the Digital Revolution, Agenda for Sustainable Development and, Science in Policy and Public Discourse domains. SASA’s specific projects of interest are listed below:

  • Open science in the global south
  • The future of scientific publishing
  • The public value of science
  • Data-driven interdisciplinarity
  • Global data resources and governance
  • Knowledge production and diffusion as global public goods
  • Gender equality in science
  •  Refugee and displaced scientists
  • International science for global sustainability
  • Science-policy interfaces at the global level

We realize some of the projects are already in progress but members of SASA are eager to get involved at any stage in any of the domains’ projects listed above.

Answers provided by: Joachim Kapalanga, MD, PhD, Professor, Western University, Canada, and Gulu University, Uganda; Alain Fymat, PhD, PhD, Professor, International Institute of Medicine and Science Inc., Rancho Mirage, California, USA; Njoki Wane, PhD, Professor, University of Toronto, Canada; Sam Lanfranco, PhD, Emeritus Professor, York University, Toronto, Canada; Emilio Ovuga, MD, PhD, Emeritus Professor, Gulu University, Uganda.

Find out more about the Society for the Advancement of Science in Africa and discover all the members of the ISC on our members’ pages.

Photo: Africa From the ISS, NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr.

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