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Vol. 27 No. 1
January-February 2005

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also www.iupac.org/symposia

Chemistry in Africa

by Graham E. Jackson

The 9th International Chemistry Conference in Africa was held in Arusha on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, 2–7 August 2004. Its theme was “Chemistry Towards Disease and Poverty Eradication,” and as such, concentrated on problems relating to Africa. The conference was sponsored by, among others, IUPAC, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the American Chemical Society, and Bruker SA.

Over 100 delegates attended the conference from 60 countries, the largest contingent coming from Botswana. Lectures were held in the Arusha International Conference Centre, which is also home of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda; hence, security was tight.

Zabein Mhita, deputy minister for science, technology and higher education, delivered a speech on behalf of the minister, setting the overall tone for the meeting. In her address, Mhita emphasized the lack of productivity of chemical publications in Africa, citing a 1997 survey in which the vast majority proved to originate either from South Africa or Egypt. She regretfully noted that 29 African countries produced no cited publications at all. She then proceeded to outline a strategy to rectify the situation that included collaboration between African countries and the establishment of regional centers of excellence. Many discussions about the way forward for chemistry in Africa continued throughout the conference.

The scientific program included the following lectures:

  • “Structure, Function, Synthesis and Application of Germination Stimulants for Seeds of the Parasitic Weeds, Striga and Orobanche,” Bianne Zwanenburg, University of Nijmegen
  • “International Collaboration in Drug Discovery and Development from Natural Sources,” Gordon Cragg, Natural Products Branch, Development Therapeutics
  • “Environmental Chemistry: Practice and Applications,” Isai Urasa, Hampton University, USA
  • “The Fascinating Chemistry of Some Constituents of Tanzanian Indigenous Plant Species,” Mayunga Nkunya, University of Dar es salaam
  • “Chemical and Biological Studies of Some Medicinal Plants,” Mohammed Mosihuzzaman, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh
    l “Towards Metal Ion Sequestration via Molecular Imprinted Polymer Technology,” Donnati Mosha, University of Dar es Salaam
  • “Economic Drug Discovery and Rational Medicinal Chemistry,” Kelly Chibale, University of Cape Town
  • “Fine Particulates and Human Health: A Neglected Research Area in Africa,” Shen Wandiga, University of Nairobi
  • “The Chemistry and Pharmacology of the Cameroonian Dorstenia Species,” Berhanu Abegaz, University of Botswana

Most of the presentations focused on natural product chemistry and its relevance to fighting diseases endemic to Africa. Kelly Chibale, gave a particularly good lecture in which he emphasized the need for collaboration. Proceedings of the conference are to be published in Pure and Applied Chemistry.


After the conference, a CHEMRAWN XII Workshop was held in which Ikenna Onyido presented a report on Chemistry, Sustainable Agriculture, and Human Well Being in Sub-Saharan Africa. This report will be the subject of a future feature article in CI. > See May 2005 issue.

Graham E. Jackson <Jackson@SCIENCE.uct.ac.za> is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. He served as the IUPAC representative at the 9th International Chemistry Conference in Africa.


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