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Director's message

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ICSU Regional Office for Africa Director's Message

Its the second half of 2014; time really flies! You will recall that I ended my message in January with the statement "Our plate is indeed full, but with the assistance we get from our partners and African scientists, we often manage to stretch our capacity to achieve much more; and this time we will need to do so much more than ever before". Yes we have and continue to do exactly that because Africa's needs are vast and diverse. Just looking back to the past six months, we are pleased that we successfully carried out all planned activities and engaged with scientists, partners and stakeholders more than ever before. This despite the Office going through a five-year review, which as we all know can be nerve-wrecking. However, we took it in our stride and now that it is behind us, we look forward to the recommendations on how we can improve on what we are doing. We also hope that the process of reconstituting the Regional Committee for Africa will now be finalised so we can get strategic advice on scientific issues again. The Office has been effectively without this resource for the past six months while the review was going on.

The next six months come with their own challenges. The process of exploring the most suitable host organisation in South Africa by the Department of Science and Technology is proving to be complex and keeping ICSU ROA in limbo. Where this has a potential to hurt most is in its effect on staff contracts, especially ex-patriate staff. However we remain hopeful that the matter will be resolved before negatively affecting continuity of our activities.

With the ICSU General Assembly fast approaching, from end of August to early September, pressure is mounting to have African ICSU Family speaking with one voice. We hope that recent efforts to ensure this will bear some fruit. The opportunity to interact face to face with Africa National and Scientific Unions members during the pre-GA meeting held on 25 June was a rare and wonderful one; plans are on the table to have a post-GA meeting a year after the GA to evaluate the past and plan for the next GA.

Work on the 5-year proposal to Sida is on-going and a continuous effort. We hope that, if successful, the grant will enable real implementation of Africa's science plans and those of other ICSU Regional Offices. In particular, we look forward to having research projects financed through competitive grants. The Future Earth initiative has proven to be a useful framework for integrated implementation of science plans, but realistic financial resources are needed to make this a reality. The long anticipated meeting to sensitise development aid funders to come to the party around global environmental change research finally took place in Johannesburg in May, and we look forward to it yielding much needed positive results to make the implementation of Future Earth in Africa a reality.

We believe in Africa's potential to contribute positively to both global science and technology issues and global sustainability. Therefore we will work tirelessly to mobilise all the resources to make this a reality. This needs all African scientists and partners, on the continent and beyond, to work in a concerted fashion.

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