During the course of the 13th International Public Communication of Science & Technology (PCST) Conference held in Salvador, Brazil, from the 5-8th May, 2014, it became clear to the few African delegates in attendance that there was a driving imperative to address the challenges of public communication of science and technology on the African continent. In addition, the realisation of the need to enhance the capacity, visibility and collaborative partnerships among African practitioners was demonstrated by the highly visible and systematic good practice of the Latin American and Caribbean – Science Communication Network, known as RED-POP, which was formed with the strategic and sustained support of UNESCO Latin America & the Caribbean Region.The rationale for this development was further informed by the poor legacy of the PCST-2002 Conference held in Cape Town, South Africa, in delivering the leadership and framework for the aspirations and expectations of a post-event pan-African network of practitioners.

African Gong was thus, conceptualised and formed with the strategic support of UNESCO Africa region, based on the good practice model of RED-POP.

Below is a list of the founding Steering Group Committee members of African Gong, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, 2014:

  • Chairperson: Dr. Elizabeth Rasekoala (Nigeria & South Africa): Founder, African-Caribbean Network for Science & Technology (ACNST)
  • Dr. Ashong Clifford Ashong ( Nigeria ): Senior Lecturer, University of Uyo, Nigeria
  • Mr. Joao Emidio Cossa (Mozambique): Director, Ministry of Science & Technology, Higher Education & Vocation Technical, Mozambique
  • Mr. Maximino Carlos (Sao Tome & Principe): Senior Science Journalist
  • Mr. Ochieng Ogodo (Kenya): Senior Science Journalist and Regional Co-ordinator for Sub-Saharan Africa, Scidev.net
  • Dr. Herbert Batta (Nigeria): Senior Lecturer, University of Calabar, Nigeria
  • Mr. Adalberto Varela (Cape Verde): Director, Ministry of Science & Innovation, Cape Verde
  • Mr. Rodrick Sambakunsi (Malawi): Senior Researcher & Project Manager, Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, Malawi
  • Mrs. Deborah Nyirenda (Malawi): Senior Researcher, Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, Malawi
<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-806" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">Prof. Aziz Bensalah</a>

Prof. Aziz Bensalah

North Africa Regional Chair

Prof. Aziz Bensalah is currently Professor at the Mohammed V University of Rabat in Morocco and was previously Professor at the National Centre for Scientific and Technical Research in the same city.
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<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-1118" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">Dr Judith Gbenoudon</a>

Dr Judith Gbenoudon

ECOWAS Regional Chair & Co-ordinator for Francophone Countries

Director for Informatics and Pre-achieving at the Ministry for Higher Education and Scientific Research, in the Republic of Benin

<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-1124" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">Mr Roderick Emmanuel Sambakunsi</a>

Mr Roderick Emmanuel Sambakunsi

SADC Regional Chair

Based in Malawi, and currently working for the Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme.

<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-1127" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">Dr Bernard Appiah</a>

Dr Bernard Appiah

Head of Capacity-Building and Research Programmes

Dr Bernard Appiah wears many hats; he is a Pharmacist, Science Journalist, global health scholar, public engagement specialist, and science communication scholar and practitioner, with a special focus on Sub-Saharan Africa.

<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-1132" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">David Mbulumi</a>

David Mbulumi

Head of Media Operations

David Mbulumi has a rare background that combines an academic background in laboratory sciences and a career in journalism and communication.

<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-1136" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">Ms. Deborah Nyirenda</a>

Ms. Deborah Nyirenda

Membership Co-ordinator

A PhD fellow from the University of Liverpool and University of Malawi-College of Medicine joint PhD Program.

<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-1140" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">Ms. Funmi Eyeoyibo</a>

Ms. Funmi Eyeoyibo

ECOWAS Deputy-Regional Chair

Funmi Eyeoyibo has over twenty years’ successful track record of working in the public, private and civil society sectors of Nigeria.

<a class="pum-trigger  popmake-1143" data-do-default="" style="cursor: pointer;">Mr. João Emidio Cossa</a>

Mr. João Emidio Cossa

SADC Deputy Regional Chair

Mr. Cossa has worked for 13 years in the Communications Field, in various roles and public institutions.

In developing African Gong, we envision a network that is multi-disciplinary, inclusive, interactive and multi-level in its membership, constituencies and partnerships, for the purpose of the exchange of information, regional and continental co-operation, including the African Diaspora. Other critical delivery parameters for the network include training, capacity-building, resource mobilisation, development and sharing of good practice in science communication and the popularization of science and technology, on the African continent. A critical component of this inclusive landscape is the commitment of African Gong to Language Diversity and thus, to work towards operating and delivering across the three-main sub-Saharan African working Languages of English, French and Portuguese, and also, Indigenous African Languages.

Our key goal is to encourage the creation, dissemination and utilisation of science and technology for addressing pressing developmental needs on the African continent in a sustainable manner. A pivotal role is envisaged for the harnessing of the Indigenous knowledge and participatory capacity of Africa’s scientists and communicators, to enhance social inclusion, as well as cultural and political engagement. This network will also engender opportunities for international research collaborations, projects and networking in various international fora and conferences.

African Gong has envisioned a pivotal objective for its activities as that of closing the profound ‘knowledge gaps’ that exist at multi-stakeholder levels on the continent (local communities, social scientists, indigenous knowledge systems), multilevel capabilities and transnational dialogues. A distinct hallmark of this transformed landscape in science communication should be the synthesis and delivery of scientific and other knowledge in dynamic and empowering multi-stakeholder partnerships, which reduce the ‘knowledge gaps’ at the individual, community, policy, institution and government levels and at socio-economic (race, gender, social class) levels and reduce the knowledge gap in legislation and implementation.

Framing the Science Communication & PLUS Agenda in Africa

African Gong is ambitious in aiming to achieve a re-imagined and re-fashioned landscape of transformative science communication and the public learning and understanding of science (PLUS) for sustainable development in Africa. Key parameters of the hallmarks of this innovative landscape include the following:

  • Citizen-centred approaches that prioritize gendered social and cultural paradigms to transform the Eurocentric and masculine-biased programmes that currently dominate. These also involve the mainstreaming of indigenous knowledge systems (IKS) into ways of conceptualizing, delivering and practising science communication and the PLUS, so as to tap into local, urban and rural communities and their traditional indigenous ways of knowing and understanding natural and scientific phenomena. There is also the need to address language diversity so that science communication and the PLUS materials, resources and engagements can be produced, disseminated and interacted in diverse local African languages and incorporated as early learning tools in school curricula. This would deliver enhanced reach, sustainable impact and empower local communities and our youth.
  • The active involvement of social scientists to help address sociocultural contexts. There is a growing acknowledgement that multidisciplinary scientific endeavour is critical to enabling societies to overcome multiple development challenges. The imperative of multi-disciplinarity should thus, also apply in the ways that science is communicated—the what, the how, the where, the tools, the methodologies and so on. Science communication and PLUS initiatives should then be co-designed in transdisciplinary, trans-science contexts to address multifaceted development challenges and engender mutual and transformational learning. Integrating social science and co-framing and co-producing the science communication and PLUS agenda will stimulate and support innovation and enhance inclusion.
  • Effective joint leadership and control by local actors (governments, civil society and community-based organizations) as well as international groups. The utilisation of participatory approaches to determining and achieving alternative, empowering and inclusive visions of a scientifically literate society. Building consensus on directions and mechanisms of progress and development in ways that include marginalized and non-scientific views and voices is a key challenge. Science communication and science and society strategies that are based on good-quality and appropriate community engagement are the key to achieving development goals.
  • An emphasis on the long-term sustainability of initiatives, such as training a new generation of multidisciplinary science communicators and journalists to work for and with their fellow citizens to communicate the pivotal role of science in sustainable development and the betterment of societies, in an inclusive and empowering dynamic.