AU rewards scientists

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Seven top African women scientists were recently awarded prizes in life and earth sciences and basic science, technology and innovation at the national, regional and international levels under the prestigious Afican Union (AU) Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards Programme.

Rose Gana Fomban Leke (Yaounde I, Cameroon), Ebtehal El-Demerdash (Egypt), Maureen Coetzee (South Africa) and Dosso Mirelle Carmen (Ivory Coast) all won the earth and life sciences sector prize.

In the basic science, technology and innovation sector, the prize was shared between Nermin El Semary (Egypt), Ehteresia Pretorius (South Africa) and Kakou Yao Rita of Ivory Coast.

They all walked away with a cash prize of $20 000 and a silver medal each. The awards, which were launched in 2008, are in recognition top African scientists for their scientific achievements and valuable discoveries and findings.

The programme is implemented at national level for young researchers, regional level for women scientists and at continental level is open to all scientists. However, Zimbabwean scientists were reportedly not privy of the prestigious AU Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Awards Programme launched in 2008.

AU Chairperson Jean Ping said it was incumbent on Africa, as the cradle of humanity, to cultivate excellence and strive to take its rightful place on the world stage.

“The lack of adequately trained academic staff has rendered African universities globally less competitive, leading to a brain drain from the continent.

According to a 2008 ranking of world universities, only four African universities featured among the top 500 . . . and despite the influx of students into African universities, only six percent of Africans have access to higher education, compared to a world average of 30%.

This is regrettable, given the acknowledged correlation between the percentage of a society’s university-educated population and the society’s social and economic progress,” he said.

Ping hailed the seven laureates saying their achievements fully validated the proposition that women in general and African women in particular could excel and fully develop their potential in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.