African Physics Newsletter

African Strategy for Fundamental and Applied Physics

An initiative has been launched so that African physicists define their own priorities for research on the continent.

The ability to generate scientific innovation and technological knowledge and translate them into new products that are of value to society are key instruments for a society’s economic growth and development. As remarkable as these abilities are for other regions of the world, Africa’s science, innovation, education, and research infrastructure, particularly in fundamental and applied physics, have over the years been under-valued and under-resourced.

Physics for Africa

With the ambition and motivation to change this, the African Strategy for Fundamental and Applied Physics (ASFAP) initiative was recently launched. The ASFAP initiative´s aspirations are:

  • to set the foundation and framework for the participation of African physicists in defining education and physics priorities most impactful for Africa;
  • to demonstrate the potential benefits of physics for African society;
  • and to have African countries participate in a global village of technology that is in the interest of every nation in Africa.

The ASFAP initiative aims at producing a long-term strategy for reforming and transforming the basic physics research and application, higher education, and scientific research systems in Africa to energize and unlock the minds for brighter economic prospects. Key considerations in this process will include a strong desire for investment in African science for economic growth driven by physics-based technologies and its beneficial impact as well as the needs of other sciences that draw heavily on advances in physics. An African strategy for fundamental and applied physics is essential if Africa is to take its place as a co-leader in the global scientific process and reap the consequent socio-economic benefits.

Research in physics to support national agendas

The ASFAP initiative is co-founded by Kétévi Assamagan (Brookhaven National laboratory, USA), Simon Connell (University of Johannesburg, South Africa), Farida Fassi (Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco), Shaaban Khalil (Center for Fundamental Physics, Zewail City, Egypt) and Fairouz Malek (CNRS and Grenoble University, France), who form the ASFAP Steering Committee (STC). The ASFAP-STC launched the ASFAP initiative to help ensure that the continent aligns its scientific research in physics to support national agendas towards human and physics education development in medium and longer terms.

The ASFAP initiative’s launch event took place during the online workshop organized jointly by the African Physical Society and the African Light Source in November 2020. The ASFAP project was also presented during the 107th Plenary of the European Committee of Future Accelerator and the 12th Annual General Assembly of African Academy of Science, both held at the end of year 2020.

Report production

The initial ASFAP process will last a few years and eventually produce a final report to inform the African and broader communities about the strategic directions likely to have positive impacts on physics education and research in the next decade. It should help African policymakers, educators, researchers, communities, and international partners in national, regional, and pan-African organizations prioritize educational and research resources and activities.

With the report in hand, the ASFAP-STC will explore ways to adapt the overall ASFAP strategy generated. In particular, it will communicate the report to and work with African policymakers, international partners, and sponsors on implementing the defined strategic directions. After a review of the impact from the previous strategy, the process will be repeated every 7-10 years.

Working groups conveners researched

The ASFAP initiative proposal, as well as its organization structure, international Advisory Committee, physics groups and so forth, are detailed in its webpage. Accessing the webpage will give the list of working groups. Many are looking for conveners and co-conveners; for all, there is the opportunity to join their mailing list and participate in the process.

Please consider participating in this important initiative.

A large endorsement

The ASFAP initiative is endorsed by:

  • the African Physical Society;
  • the South African Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology;
  • the Network of African Sciences Academies;
  • the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics;
  • the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization;
  • and the Hassan-II Academy of Science and Technology, Morocco.

In addition, the ASFAP initiative is supported by the CERN Director General, various international institutes, and leading scientists in Africa and beyond.

Farida Fassi, Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco

This article has first been published by the African Physics Newsletter - © American Physical Society, 2021

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