Africa Scientifique – Background & Rationale

Africa Scientifique is a unique Training and Capacity-building programme conceptualised by African Gong. It is designed to support young and emerging African scientists, researchers, academics and science communicators’, for the advancement of research expertise and capacity on the continent, and to build advanced skills, expertise and practice of science communication and research dissemination with publics in Africa.

These goals are critical, given the pressing developmental challenges on the continent and the imperatives to close the knowledge gaps that exist at all levels, and which impact on the pace of development on the continent. These critical ‘knowledge gaps’ result in the African populace being left vulnerable in profound ignorance and lacking the basic scientific information and understandings, that would enable them to make the empowering informed choices that would improve their health, resilience in the face of opportunistic infections, especially newly Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID), well-being and quality of life.

A critical imperative for the Africa Scientifique programme development has been the implementation of the Lagos Declaration and Call to Action on Science Communication and the Public Learning and Understanding of Science (PLUS) in Africa. There are a number of critical drivers within this seminal document which frame the Africa Scientifique programme rationale, as follows:

  • In communicating science to African populations, scientists need to take into consideration relevant cultural norms, beliefs and practices.
  • African scientists, researchers and academics are encouraged to learn to communicate their research findings to the public in a language that is easy to understand. This would enhance more effective community engagement practices in research, and the promotion of public understanding of the sciences. It will also facilitate public debate on issues relating to science and technology.
  • There is an increasing demand for African professionals with skills in the public communication of science and technology.
  • The need for the training of communicators in Science; science journalism, and the mass media, and the strengthening of communication links between scientists and the general public.
  • The urgent need for the popularization of science and technology in Africa, so that citizens can learn and understand science, thereby making informed choices that will improve their health, resilience in the face of EID’s, well-being and quality of life.
  • The need for African scientists, researchers and academics to learn to communicate to their unscientific audiences and publics in a language they understand, in order for scientific knowledge to be shared, particularly in rural areas.
  • The need for communication between researchers and policy-makers and to build the interface between researchers and the users of scientific results and technology.
  • Knowledge is power, and in order to appreciate and benefit from scientific achievements, Africans need to learn science and to popularize scientific knowledge.

The attendant transformation and sustainable development agenda inherent in the Lagos Declaration and Call to Action on Science Communication and PLUS in Africa, drive the call for universities and research institutions in Africa to engage with the broader community, science and society engagements and the PLUS. The acute vulnerabilities of Africans in this regard, is in no small measure directly attributable to the marginalised state of science communication and the PLUS – policy, practice and capacity-building on the continent. In addition, the parlous state of science education on the continent creates an imperative for African scientists, researchers and academics, to engage in advancing societal scientific literacy, and thus, to empower African citizens with the scientific knowledge that will transform the quality of their lives and well-being.