Science Africa UnConference Report

Last week the NGO founded by Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, the Planet Earth Institute, hosted its annual Science Africa UnConference. The event brought together some of the biggest names in African science, education, government and business to share their ideas regarding science, technology and innovation in relation to African development.

The day included high-level presentations by guest speakers, panel discussions, workshops and networking. The day began with an introduction from Lord Paul Boateng, who recently replaced Dr Álvaro Sobrinho as the Planet Earth Institute’s Chairman, after which Nick Staite unveiled the PEI exChange, an online platform for exchanging ideas and helping them to become reality.

After the introduction of the PEI exChange the agenda led neatly on to a session facilitated by Alison Coward attendees spent a portion of the morning considering their own “Big Ideas for Africa”. During this sessions attendees enthusiastically joined the experts to exchange ideas and share information, “everyone wanted to connect, exchange ideas and drive change for Africa”, said the Planet Earth Institute. Ideas presented ranged from the local to the pan-African, from complicated science and technology to ideas created of pure simplicity.

The late morning and afternoon saw the much anticipated guest speakers taking to the stage. First up was the South African Minister for Higher Education, Honourable Minister Blade Nzumande, who discussed some of the great scientific and technological discoveries African scientists have uncovered. This presentation was followed by Maya Kulycky who talked about IBM Research-Africa’s efforts to improve healthcare on the continent using data.

Further panel discussions and workshops followed the presentations. Attendees discussed a wide-range of topics including space science and agriculture (a topic Dr Álvaro Sobrinho has also recently written about). Sir Christopher Edwards, Planet Earth Institute trustee closed the day with a few well-chosen words.

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