Thursday, 5 October 2017

NEWSLETTER #25 - SOCIETY OF AFRICAN EARTH SCIENTISTS

Volume 6, Issue 3. July-September 2017


     CONTENT
  1. Chair's Foreword
  2. African Development Summit 2017, Abuja, Nigeria - SAES proposal
  3. Earth Science Book Review
  4. Earth Science Events
  5. References and Selected Reading

CHAIR'S FOREWORD

In the current issue, we share the proposal submitted by SAES to the 2017 African Development Summit in Abuja, Nigeria. 


AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT 2017, ABUJA, NIGERIA  - SAES PROPOSAL

1. Forward and Areas of Consideration
By way of preliminary comment, the Society of African Earth Scientists (SAES) wishes to commend the choice of focus of the Summit on “achieving socio-economic growth through community based and inclusive innovation”. However, the Society also wishes that the summit sets out to achieve what it claims: by being more inward looking to Africa’s own resources and talent, especially among its youth population, when it comes to socio-economic growth through community based and inclusive innovation.
   We have addressed issues that we believe are relevant to the six priority areas of the African Union Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024 (STISA 2024) [2], especially priorities number 1 and 6. The issues addressed in that vein therefore are in line with the requirements of the ADS 2017 concept paper. However, the one small but important critique SAES may deem necessary to express here  is that the tone of the ADS concept paper, appears to repeat that age old mistake whereby   having provided a wonderful platform for ourselves as Africans to progress on a collective basis in the discussion on development, we then subvert our potentially liberating development strategies by an excessive willingness to structure our development efforts (and even governmental legislation)  in accordance  only with the needs of foreign financiers to guarantee an acceptable environment of low risk  investment  in which they can profit  handsomely from our science and technological industries.
    Of course there is a need  to attract  investment into Africa for development to progress. However, this should not be at the expense of  Africa-centred strategies  with  the goal of  facilitating an environment designed with the primary purpose of nurturing indigenous talent and innovation rather than the main focus and often the only focus being on providing a safe environment for low-risk  foreign investment.
    It should be obligatory that Africans  are the deciders of the shape of  programmes that will progress our development rather than these being conceived and imposed from outside because that is where the finances come from.  We must be alert to conflicts of interest s where outsiders who advise us that to develop we must employ the newest technologies also offer to provide/maintain these technologies at a price which they will dictate. Meanwhile, such new technologies increase our dependence on outside assistance, and prevent us from developing our own  truly indigenously  controlled technology industry and infrastructure suited to our own indigenous “societal needs” as STISA 2024 stipulates.
   Having expressed these issues of preliminary critique, we cover the four areas of contribution by SAES for consideration at the 2017 African Development Summit on 9-10th October in Abuja, Nigeria.  Specifically, the SAES  propose that programmes  delivered to citizens, particularly the youth of school and college age, could take the form of workshops that raise awareness of the technical and general issues concerning the following  four areas:-

- Renewable energy
- Geo-awareness
- Youth innovation and employment /self employment
- Indigenous geophysics research and publication

The prominence of youth in these proposals is based on the belief that just  a small amount  of  technical knowledge and insight given to  African young people will be taken and exploited  to the maximum as they  seek  by all means to innovate their  way out of  serious need and lack of gainful  employment.


2. Renewable energy
There is real scope for raising awareness of renewable energy through workshops on both solar and wind energy. SAES proposes that solar and wind energy workshops can be delivered to schools. A programme of solar energy workshops has already been rolled out to schools in Abuja, Nigeria  by the Nigerian Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure  (NASENI) with notable success.
   These workshops teach youth participants to think about how small off grid electrical energy systems can be set up. With this basic knowledge youth attendees have  basic tools to establish small scale solar electric energy systems and thereby the means to create business and work around this basic knowledge. With such initiative there is scope for self employment/ employment opportunities, helping to move Africa towards its sustainable development goals.

3. Geo-awareness
There is scope for geo-awareness  to enhance our understanding of the earth and the manner in which the quality of life of African citizens both socially and economically  can be improved through access to geo-parks and the employment of geo-tourism . Dr Enas Ahmed, an Egyptian Palaeontologist and Geologist, proposes how geo-awareness can be enhanced through the employment of geo-tourism and geo-parks workshops  in Africa’s developmental approach.
“Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most-populous continent. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, both the Suez Canal and the Red Sea along the Sinai Peninsula to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. All of that great area gives us variety of environments, climates and biodiversity.
 With the Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs - we found lack in the geo-Awareness in most African countries especially in the rural areas of the continent facing mostly the same issues and sensitive to changes.
The key role in protecting these areas and supporting  people to keep their environment safe and apply the roadmap  for the SDGs is 
-          To convince the native people of  the role of their environment in their life and how they could benefit from their environment in a sustainable way .
-          Also encouraging them (the native people) to accept the concept of the geo-tourism and geo-parks in their life and how this will bring income to their life whilst at the same time achieving the SDGs. “
NB: In supporting the African environment and African geo-awareness, Dr Ahmed  has established an organisation called, The Africa Environment Protectors Organisation.

4. Youth Innovation
A central plank of the SAES African Development strategy is that it must be spearheaded by the encouragement of youth innovation.  Youth Innovation is seen as the crucial accelerator of African Development. It requires relatively little input and investment but it reaps huge rewards with positive consequences in the shape of improved prospects for youth employment, self-employment, and lasting legacy of African Development.
   The SAES strongly believes that technological and scientific competitions for monetary prizes among young people of school  and college age will engender a healthy motivation to scientific and technical innovation.  SAES would like to pilot this idea with the formation of a competition to create sustainable battery design. Battery technology has the prospect of transforming the renewable energy development race.


6. Indigenous Geophysics Research and Publication
Africa  is in need of home-grown researchers and science writers with a perspective from within the Continent.  In this vein SAES is proud to support the work of one of its members, Henok Tewelde, who has made a sterling effort in developing a text of geophysics exploration techniques entitled “Introduction to Exploration Geophysics”. It will be of significant practical and research value to practitioners from Africa. A poster of the publication is attached below. The publication is available on Amazon.





EARTH SCIENCE REVIEWS

Global Ecology by Vaclav Smil
Routledge, London and New York, 1991

This is a work that shines light on reasons for the rapid rate of  biospheric changes that threaten the perpetuation of life on Earth and the way in which we are able to respond to these changes with effective remedial strategies.  These different ways of globally managing these changes throw up different opportunities and challenges which the author explores. Furthermore, Global Ecology increases our understanding of change  as well as of our weaknesses and strengths in being able to manage the transition to a sustainable social and natural environment.



EARTH SCIENCE EVENTS




7-11 October 2017
International Conference on Water Management in Arid and semi Arid lands
Venue: Movenpick Resort, Dead Sea, Jordan
VISION: International conference


9-10 October 2017

AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT


Venue: Yar'Adua Conference Centre, Abuja, Nigeria

VISION: An international conference focussed on the goal of achieving socio-economic growth through community based and inclusive innovation, as informed by African Union Agenda 2063 and African Union Science and Technology Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024,

20-24 March 2018


Earth Sciences for Society

A joint congress organised by
Arab Geosciences Union, African Association of Women in the Geosciences, African Geoparks Network

Venue: Faculty of Sciences, Chouaib Doukkali University, El Jadida, Morocco

VISION: The "Geodynamics, Geo-education and Geoheritage Research Group" of the Geology Department, Faculty of Sciences, El Jadida (Morocco) in collaboration with the Arabian Geosciences Union (ArabGU), the African Association of Women in Geosciences (AAWG) and the African Geoparks Network (AGN) organize a jointly the 2nd ArabGU International Conference (AIC2), the 9th AAWG Conference (CAAWG9) and the 3rd International Conference on Geoparks in Africa and MiddleEast (ICGAME3). This joint congress is hosted by the Faculty of Sciences, Chouaïb Doukkali University, El Jadida (Morocco).

REFERENCES AND SELECTED READING


  1. African Union Agenda 2063, https://au.int/agenda2063/about
  2. African Union Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa 2024  (STISA 2024), https://au.int/en/documents/29957/science-technology-and-innovation-strategy-africa-2024





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