2014 has come and gone, with a mixed bag of blessings and challenges for most of us. We now look forward to a very prosperous 2015 that brings many happy returns to members, partners, stakeholders and friends of the ICSU family.
Looking back, we cannot help but hope that the New Year will come with more stability for the Regional Office compared to last year.
Firstly, it has been a full year since we last had a Regional Committee, and we miss having an oversight body that will not only offer strategic guidance, but also act as a sounding board where necessary. That said, we are fully informed of the reasons for this delay on ICSU's side, and hope to have finality as soon as ICSU's Committee for Scientific Planning and Review (CSPR) has had its first half-yearly meeting, which will be held on 26 - 27 January 2015.
Secondly, the Review Panel finalized its report after reviewing the Office for several months, and we hope to get further direction on the Panel's recommendations as soon as they have been considered at the next CSPR meeting.
Thirdly, numerous discussions took place among key role players to prepare ICSU ROA's final 5-year hosting period in South Africa. One thing we know from those is that the Office will be hosted by the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) from the beginning of the new financial year (April 2015), but lots of issues still need to be unpacked and agreed upon before then. These include the design and signing of a new Memorandum of Agreement between and among the parties involved. Hopefully this will happen timeously and without much disruption to the Office's functioning. Moreover, this move presents an opportune moment for the Regional Office to work more closely with the Academy and its partners, which had already started at a small scale with encouraging results.
We are excited to have established a solid working relationship with the Network of Africa Academies of Science (NASAC) around a big grant we have applied for. Although all practicalities will only start to unfold in this new year, we are in no doubt that this is the beginning of new possibilities for the Regional Office, NASAC, as well as the scientists working closely with both organisations. Lots of synergies are waiting to be put to good use.
We call upon all ICSU members and stakeholders to continue working with us to achieve the goal of strengthening science for the benefit of society in Africa. We also hope that the substantive number of partnerships we have built on the continent and beyond will come in handy for realizing this ideal in the real sense. Yes Africa still has a long way to go in terms of scientific development, but it is not impossible to get there.
Dr Edith Madela-Mntla
Director: ICSU Regional Office for Africa