I had the honour and privilege to open the Planet Earth Institute ‘UnConference’ last week in London, alongside Her Excellency Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim GCSK CSK, President of the Republic of Mauritius. Over 200 people joined from across the world to collaborate on Africa’s science and technology agenda.
The full round up from the PEI is below:
“Our third #ScienceAfrica UnConference started with a bang at 9am BST on Tuesday July 21. It was a day of provocative panels, workshops and discussions on science, tech and development in Africa, and the role of the private sector in addressing the continent’s greatest challenges. Here’s a quick round up of what happened on the day.
Our chair, the Rt Hon Lord Paul Boateng, one of our trustees, opened the event by exploring why science and technology are key drivers for sustainable development on the continent, and the private sector’s role in accelerating this endeavour. Our chairman, Dr. Alvaro Sobrinho, also spoke about the Planet Earth Institute’s work to achieve Africa’s scientific emancipation.
Following this, Lord Boateng asked all attendees to be upstanding for the new President of Mauritius, Her Excellency Dr. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim GCSK CSK. We were absolutely honoured to listen to Her Excellency’s inspiring address on advancing science and technology on the continent.
We then heard a range of leading figures at the heart of Africa’s science-led development agenda speak about strengthening links between industry and scientific communities. HE President Gurib-Fakim, Dr. Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology, South Africa, Alan Kalton, Commercial Director, IBM Research-Africa, and Dr. Sobrinho astounded our guests with their insights.
After a short break, we launched into eight simultaneous workshops. Our workshop leaders encouraged attendees to dive into the issues at hand, including harnessing wearables and sensor technology for social impact, Africa’s role in the global research community, and the potential of cognitive computing to support African science.
After lunch, another distinguished panel discussed the Partnership for Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology (PASET) in Africa, and why developing these skills is vital for the continent’s future.
And then another round of thought-provoking workshops kicked off. This time around, topics ranged from communicating science and innovation to fighting HIV/AIDS, and 3D printing science equipment in Tanzania. Again, our attendees got stuck into the discussions.
To round off the day, Lord Boateng asked workshop leaders to feed back the key take aways from their sessions. After hearing some of the fascinating insights that emerged from the workshop sessions, Lord Boateng and Sir Christopher Edwards urged attendees to ‘Vukuzenzele’, a Zulu aying that means ‘Wake up and do it yourself’, a very fitting motto for our UnConference!
Thanks for everyone who attended the ScienceAfrica UnConference and those who tweeted on the #ScienceAfrica hashtag. And thanks most of all to our partners who are helping us build a movement for science in Africa! See you all next year! ”