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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