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American Physical Society March 2009 Meeting
Report on the Forum for International Physics sponsored
Physics in Africa Session
Abebe Kebede1, Paul Gueye2 and Dave Ernst2
1North Carolina Agricultural and Technology, Physics Department, Greensboro, NC
2Members-at-large, Forum for International Physics, American Physical Society, College Park, MD
On March 16, 2009, the Forum for International Physics (FIP) co-sponsored a 3-hr long “Physics in Africa” session held during the 2009 American Physical Society (APS) March meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A. Kebede from NCA&T chaired the session. Four physicists from Africa were invited to this session that was attended by about 30 participants to provide an overview of the past, current and future of research and education in physics throughout this continent for both academic and policy-making aspects: Alex Animalu (physicist, Nigeria), Mzamo Mangaliso (past President National Research Foundation, South Africa), Arame Boye-Faye (head of the Research Division of the Ministry for Scientific Research and professor at the University Cheih Anta Diop of Dakar, Senegal) and Bernard M'Passi-Mabiala (Chair of the Physics Depamrtnet of the University Marien NGouabi of Brazzaville, Congo). The session was followed by a panel discussion.
Prof. Animalu provided a broad in-depth presentation of how physicists within Africa could contribute to worldwide forefront research. He presented his research work “On the differences between theories of conventional and high temperature superconductivity” in which he enlightened the theoretical work performed in collaboration with some colleagues, and how this contributed in the advancement in the field of superconductivity. Dr. Boye-Faye followed with her presentation on “Physics in Africa: the Case of Senegal”, in which she addressed the problems related to the student population (outpacing the university capacity by about 10 fold), the lack of equipment, and the very small direct contribution from the Government (less than 0.3% of GDP) to research. Prof. M'Passi-Mabiala addressed the audience with a review of the physics department (education, research and statistics) at his university and some ongoing inter-African collaboration to establish a consortium to leverage the expertise of faculty in neighboring countries for a more efficient educational implementation and advancement. The overall message from these talks was striking in their common content and centered around the following:
Four speakers introduced the panel discussion that followed:
Abede Kebede led the panel discussion and engaged the audience on various topics relevant for Africa, especially on the need for a single African Physical Society that will link up communities and research groups within Africa as well as outside Africa: internet access, conferences, funding, comparison between non-US international agencies/institutions (ICTP, Sweden …) work, astrophotography … There was a general agreement in the fact that more can be done by the US physics community to establish stronger ties with African physicists and develop more efficient/higher impact projects to advance physics. The session concluded with informal discussions on how such effort could be developed. Additional information on some relevant activities can be found at: http://sirius-c.ncat.edu/asn/afps/index.html. It is noteworthy to mention that: copies of the first publication of the African Journal of Physics were provided (lead mostly by African physicists residing and practicing physics in the US) and the Ethiopian Physical Society-North America was introduced during the APS-FIP reception (to facilitate research and education in their own country.
Views and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors and are not necessarily shared by the editor or the APS/FIP. We reserve the right to withhold names of authors in order to reduce the risk of additional personal hardship, for instance for speaking out on human rights issues.