It has been just 4 months since the Annual Meeting of the African Science Academies, held in Kampala. Already, the Network of African Science Academies (NASAC) and its members have agreed on a draft strategic plan for African Academies. This new initiative, known as the African Science Academies Development Agenda (ASADA) is being driven by the African Academies themselves, with plans well underway to finalise and formally adopt the plans later this year.

ASADA meeting

ASADA meeting

The 5 year plan provides a road map for science academy development and associated evidence based science advisory activities on the continent. The plan is built to support four strategic goals:

  1. Positioning and strengthening NASAC to fulfil its role as the voice of African science academies
  2. Initiating and strengthening science academies in Africa
  3. Fostering collaboration among science academies for the advancement of capacity development and science in Africa
  4. Focusing on the development goals of Africa and their implementation by promoting and undertaking scientific activities that align with the Agenda 2063 and the STI strategy for Africa of the African Union.

The discussions were lively at times, and also humorous. Professor Tomori (Nigerian Academy of sciences) brought the house down with his simile of how the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and NASAC should work together. The organisations have unique niches, with AAS being an organisation of individual Fellows and NASAC a network of academies. Prof Tomori explained their differences, their roles and how they related to each other.

Attending this meeting was heartening, seeing the African academies committing to working together with such a sense of ownership. Unusually, this initiative has not led to the establishment of a new African institution, simply strengthening an existing one, in this case NASAC. A key part of the new programme will be partnerships, with a stronger scope than previously for academies both within and outside Africa to work together on issues of common interest.

This kind of demand driven framework should help the Royal Society and other academies to think how they work with African Academies in future. I’m grateful to the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)  as the host academy for including me in this pivotal meeting.