Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No.2, March 2000

2000, Vol. 22
No. 2 (March)
..News from IUPAC
..West Africa Chemical Society
..Reports from Symposia

..Awards and Prizes
..New Books
..Reports from Commissions
..Conference Announcements
..Conferences

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Chemistry International
Vol. 22, No. 2
March 2000

 

News and Notices from Other Societies and Unions

The West African Chemical Society: A Catalyst for the Development of African Science

This article, by Prof. Richard-Emmanuel Eastes (Département de chimie, Ecole Normale Supérieure, 24, rue Lhomond, 75005 Paris, France; E-mail: reeastes@voila.fr) and Jean-Paul Pradère (Director of Research at CNRS Laboratoire de Chimie Organique, UMR 6513 au CNRS, Faculté des Sciences et des Techniques, 2, rue de la Houssinière, 44322 Nantes cedex 3, France; E-mail: Jean-Paul.Pradere@chimie.univ-nantes.fr), was originally published in L'Actualité Chimique in January 1999 (pp. 30-33) and is reprinted here with their kind cooperation and permission.

Summary
Introduction
Founding of the West African Chemical Society
Aims and Objectives of the S.O.A.CHIM.
Activities of the S.O.A.CHIM.
Annual Congress of the S.O.A.CHIM.
Sequence of Events at the 4th S.O.A.CHIM. Congress
Assessment of the Congress in Cotonou
Conclusion
Notes

Summary

The West African Chemical Society (Société Ouest-Africaine de Chimie [S.O.A.CHIM.]) was established in 1994 by a group of scientists from nine West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea Conakry, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Togo). The aim of the society is to develop chemical sciences in West Africa, both from an educational and research point of view. To this end, the society uses four means of communicating information: seminars, a monthly information bulletin, the Journal de la Société Ouest-Africaine de Chimie (published twice a year), and the annual S.O.A.CHIM. Congress, the last two of which took place in Cotonou (Benin) in 1998 and Niamey (Niger) in 1999.

This article offers a report of the congress that took place in Cotonou in August 1998, and attempts to establish the situation regarding chemical sciences in sub-Saharan West Africa. Furthermore, this article stresses how important it is for African universities to forge links with Western laboratories.

Introduction

From 3-7 August 1998, the West African Chemical Society (S.O.A.CHIM.) held its 4th Annual Congress in Cotonou, Benin. Several university department heads and directors of institutes from different African countries took part in this international scientific conference. It also appeared an effort had been made by national delegates to make it financially possible for doctoral students to participate in this conference. Among the hundreds of scientists present at the congress, some of the French-speaking conferees had been invited to shed a different and complementary light on the chosen theme for that year: ìChemistry and Quality of Lifeî. They endeavored to present the results of work that may be used immediately by the African chemistry community, both for research and teaching purposes.

This article, which briefly introduces the S.O.A.CHIM. and its various activities, gives a report of the congress in Cotonou and offers a rapid assessment of research and teaching in sub-Saharan West Africa.

Founding of the West African Chemical Society

The West African Chemical Society was established in Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso) in 1994 by about 100 chemistry, biochemistry, and biology researchers and teacher-researchers from French-speaking universities in the West African cities of Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Bamako (Mali), Conakry (Guinea Conakry), Cotonou (Benin), Dakar (Senegal), Lomé (Togo), Niamey (Niger), Nouakchott (Mauritania), and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).

Aims and Objectives of the S.O.A.CHIM.

The S.O.A.CHIM., which is at the heart of a genuine and innovative ìsouthernî attempt at cooperation, aims to unite chemists from West Africa, creating within the group a synergy for the development of chemical sciences. The main objectives of the S.O.A.CHIM. are as follows:

  • to contribute to the development of all aspects of chemical sciences;
  • to be an information center, a meeting forum, and a place of exchange for its members;
  • to ensure the dissemination of results obtained in African research laboratories;
  • to consider ways of improving teaching and scientific research despite frequent lack of resources;
  • to propose and support any industrial, economic, and professional prospects relating to chemical sciences; and
  • to represent the individuals concerned and their disciplines before the public authorities of the different states and before regional, international, and nongovernmental organizations.

Therefore, the S.O.A.CHIM. represents an important attempt at cultural and economic development, as well as a genuine tool for the integration of African chemists into the international community.

Activities of the S.O.A.CHIM.

The S.O.A.CHIM. is organized into divisions according to the main areas of chemical sciences and into more specific subject areas, such as inorganic chemistry, theoretical chemistry, spectroscopy, natural substances, etc. The initiatives of the S.O.A.CHIM. are mainly intended to encourage collaboration on subjects that concern problems with the development of the member countries, including the following:

  • extraction and promotion of local natural substances;
  • study of methods for limiting and controlling air and water pollution;
  • chemistry of agricultural inputs (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.);
  • promotion of inorganic raw materials, and geological and mining research;
  • chemical and biochemical methods of controlling the quality of foodstuffs; and
  • chemistry of pharmaceutical products, etc.

These initiatives are centered around four main areas of exchange:

  • workshops, conferences, and seminars;
  • S.O.A.CHIM. information bulletin;
  • Journal de la Société Ouest-Africaine de Chimie, refererenced in Chemical Abstracts; and
  • annual congresses.

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