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IUPAC-AAPAC Joint Meeting on Chemistry in the Development of Africa
Durban, Republic of South Africa, 11 July 1998


by John M. Malin, Ph. D.
International Activities Administrator
American Chemical Society

Comments by Prof. D.A. Bekoe on the role and function of AAPAC in promoting chemistry on the African continent.

Prof. Bekoe reminded the participants that the role of the African Association for Pure and Applied Chemistry (AAPAC), i.e., to foster chemical research and the application of chemistry and allied sciences to capacity building in Africa is quite congruent with the goals of IUPAC. He noted the special problems caused in Africa by population growth. In regard to food production, for example, new lands are brought into cultivation only after the old lands have been exhausted. Prof. Bekoe added that research funding in some countries is weak and getting weaker, having in some cases been reduced by two-thirds. Even so, AAPAC is developing opportunities for joint efforts to obtain support by giving chemical researchers a voice with governments.

Prof. Bekoe suggested that AAPAC can help promote teaching and learning in ways unique to Africa. The solutions sought should be Africa-relevant because learning strategies and cost effective solutions are not necessarily the same in all parts of the world. Through the International Chemistry Conference in Africa (ICCA) series, AAPAC has already established a dialogue on chemical education. AAPAC discussions on environmental chemistry, theoretical chemistry and natural products chemistry are stimulating young researchers. Now those new scientists will need access to faster, modern methods of obtaining and analyzing data.

Prof. Bekoe noted that AAPAC and IUPAC both have long-term objectives to foster chemical research and the application of chemistry and allied sciences with special emphasis on capacity building. Therefore, he said, it is necessary that there be liaison between the two organizations with the goals of (1) strengthening of national chemical associations in the region, (2) working together to encourage chemistry-related industry, particularly large industry, to contribute to sustainable development, creation of wealth and improvement of the quality of life in Africa, (3) finding ways to work with and learn from IUPAC and other bodies such as ICSU, COSTED, UNIDO and UNESCO, (4) improving the resource base of AAPAC and (5) developing more effective scientific communications in the region.

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