Young Scientists

Doing experimental science in Africa

A session of the YASE meeting was dedicated to the tricky issue of experimental science in Africa. Speakers give here their views.

Veronica Okello, Machakos University, Kenya

There are a lot of challenges. It wouldn’t call them difficulties, but there are a lot of challenges. One of them is that we do not have the instruments. We have the knowledge, but we don’t have the instruments.

Alpha Kabinet Keita, University of Montpellier and Center for study, research and training in infectiology of Guinea

The first laboratory I had the luck to set up in Guinea was at the National Institute of Public Health. This laboratory was set up in a rather special context. During the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease, many institutions had come in Guinea for aid. And these institutions had left equipment in the country. And even before, equipment had been left in the country, that was not used. When I realised that many equipments were already there, we set up a laboratory. And what we couldn't find on the spot was bought in Europe and shipped to Guinea.

François Piuzzi, Association for the scientific improvement of Africa

A challenge is to have equipments, and equipments that works for a long time. There are the problems of consumables, of breakdowns, of spare parts, and that is virtually impossble to solve.

Arouna Darga, Sorbonne Université

Young scientists have to be trained so that they can, when funding sources allow them to access equipments, maintain these instruments and repair them when they break down.

Veronica Okello

I think there is a bright future. Because, like in my case, I came to Kenya and I thought that I was lost. I thought that I was just going to stay at home and do nothing. But for the two years that I have been in Kenya, I have actually done amazing work, through grants, international grants that I got, that increased or improved my visibility within the university, so when my visibility within the university improved, management got involved. So when management got invoved, I got local funds, to involve my students more.

Alpha Kabinet Keita

What may have been simple in my case, because I started building the laboratory in the aftermath of the epidemic which drew the world's attention to the country, may seem very difficult for someone else who could not benefit from the opportunity of an epidemic for example, my apologies to put it like that.

Arouna Darga

This is what we do, for example, at GeePs (my laboratory): we buy instruments for a given purpose, and then we transform them to develop new techniques. It is a challenge for experimental research in Africa.

François Piuzzi

My main hope is that it would be done directly in Africa. There would then no longer be any need to import things. There would be no import taxes, and repairs could be made on site, without the need to move anything.

Veronica Okello

Another way is to involve management. Management should put some funds, put some money aside in their budget so that each and every financial year, at least they buy some instruments. And of course now relying on international donors, but first, we must find our own solutions.

Interviews by Jean-François Haït


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