The Regional Partner collaborated with the Kenya National Academy of Science (KNAS), the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf), the National Research Foundation Kenya (NRF) and the Government of Kenya to host the annual TWAS-SAREP Regional Young Scientists’ Conference (RYSC) in Nairobi, Kenya from 23-25 October 2019. The theme for the conference was Water-Food Climate/Energy Nexus and Policy in Africa. The conference addressed critical issues pertinent to Africa’s development challenges in an interdisciplinary approach as identified in the African Union’s Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) 2024. Both plenary and poster presentations were made at the conference. Deliberations entailed the science as well as the policy dimensions of the four sub-themes, namely: Food Security in Africa; Climate and Environmental Protection; Water Resources Exploitation and Management; and Energy and Sustainable Development in Africa.
The event had over 130 participants from Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Participants were selected from over 259 applicants. Prof Raphael M. Munavu (KNAS President) gave the opening remarks and the keynote address was given by Prof. Victoria Ngumi, PhD (Vice Chancellor, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology). Other prominent expert speakers included TWAS Fellow, Prof Laban Ogallo who spoke on the “Research and capacity needs for addressing climate change challenges for environment sustainability and sustainable socioeconomic development in Africa”; Prof Mghendi Mwamburi from the University of Eldoret, who gave an expert talk on "Emerging trends in Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development"; Prof Daniel Olago from the University of Nairobi presented on "Water Resources Exploitation and Management in Africa"; and Prof Miriam Kinyua from the University of Eldoret who gave an expert presentation on "Food Security in Africa: An Elusive Possibility". Each session was led by an expert presentation which set the scene for the presentations by early career researchers.
Furthermore, the participants also took part in the skills-imparting session on Science Diplomacy and Science Communication. TWAS-SAREP also showed the TWAS documentary titled “Science in Exile”, which led a facilitated discussion on immigrants and refugee scientists, and intergovernmental relations in the African countries that are a barrier to free movement of scientists to explore new scientific knowledge. The conference provided a platform for young scientists to network and interact with senior scientists and their peers on the interdisciplinary topical issues that the conference addressed. ASSAf through Ms Phyllis Kalele (Senior Liaison Officer, African Collaborations) also conducted an introductory session to Science Diplomacy and the rationale was to expose the early career researchers to policy related issues. This sesion ignited conversations about the much-needed engagements between policy makers, governments, multilateral organisations and scientists to tackle societal issues using science based evidence for solutions, and to advance the process of enacting policies collectively.